Telecom Expense Management, once only the practice of the few large companies who had an exceptionally large fleet of mobile devices, has become a necessary practice for every enterprise. TEM helps address the complicated demands placed on businesses by the ever-increasing use of mobile devices by employees across all job descriptions.
wireless expense management
As mindWireless has watched TEM morph and accelerate over the last 20 years we have seen this best-practice adopted with varying levels of efficiency achieved.
Fortunately today, there is a wealth of information and data on the best custom fit of telecom expense management for specific enterprises.
The sheer number of communication channels between companies and their employees, their customers and partners, as well as the volume of information they exchange, is exponentially increasing year-to-year. Workforces are increasingly more mobile and more distributed due to globalization and telecommuting capabilities. The spread of consumer mobile technologies has resulted in customers driving the development of new business models, including online and mobile commerce, which must be “always on” and responsive
to customer needs. The “consumerization of IT” is real and must be reckoned with, mobile devices are no longer being sneaked into cubicles and board rooms, as smart-devices are now the business status-quo.
A fully functioning TEM program must take a holistic approach to managing the cost and usage of mobile telecommunications assets and services, as well as related processes, in order to maximize efficiency and minimize the costs associated with managing the corporate mobile environment. A comprehensive telecomm expense management strategy must carefully consider and bring together the best fit of technology, processes, people and policies to achieve success.
enterprise mobility management
The end-goal of TEM is to gain the fullest-framed picture of the entire mobile spend spectrum across business units, carriers, and service types. With such a view management is able to control processes such as invoice management, inventory updates, order placement, and contract validation. Organizations can then and only then bring extensive telecomm-spend under their control and achieve significant savings.
The Basics of Telecomm Expense Management
The need for businesses to manage an internal mobile fleet is gaining importance every day, so arguably every company can benefit from starting a TEM program.
While the art of telecomm expense management encompasses many activities, there are two prime areas of initial focus that can bring significant value to the surface: inventory management and invoice management.
Responsible and thoughtful companies strive to ensure that they are paying for exactly the right assets and services. Success or failure in this endeavor hinges on knowledge of exactly what their inventory comprises. This can be one of the most challenging activities for an enterprise to independently achieve, particularly for companies that are either expanding rapidly into more locations and hiring more employees or contracting and shutting down services. In addition, many companies rely on cumbersome manual processes to maintain and update their inventory. The double-edged nature of success and growth can be seen here when a mobile fleet is involved: a growing company necessitates TEM work.
A mobile inventory should provide granular intelligence about each asset by location, service type and business unit. This inventory cannot be static either; the data repository must be dynamically updated to ensure accuracy. A well-maintained, centralized and accurate mobile inventory (1) provides full-spectrum visibility of the mobile-telecom environment, (2) facilitates better usage analytics and bill validation, and (3) helps identify opportunities for optimization of costs and deployment design.
Ignorance of mobile spend is extremely common among large companies. This is partly due to the fact that they are the unfortunate recipients of hundreds, sometimes thousands, of invoices monthly for their mobile telecom assets and services. Keeping an accurate and up-to-date inventory of telecom assets and services is a constantly moving target; there are thousands of corporate rate plans; and most carrier contracts involve complex terms and conditions. As such, invoices can be tens to hundreds of pages long depending on the type of asset or service. Of course, this makes manual processing an extremely cumbersome and expensive task.
In addition, carriers have confusingly large billing systems and invoice formats, making the invoice management process even more tedious. The large volume and complexity of telecomm bills makes it difficult to normalize, aggregate and analyze expenses. In short, carriers are not to be relied on or trusted with sole responsibility over a company’s invoice management.
Efficient, third-party-aided invoice analysis gives companies the ability to conduct accurate audits to ensure on-time payments, reduction of late fees, detection of billing errors, and early discovery of erroneous charges, as well as identification of opportunities for long-term cost optimization. Enterprises that employ appropriate technologies to automate invoice acquisition, loading and tracking (and facilitate efficient approval processes) can ensure accurate and cost-effective end-to-end invoice management—as well as gain better visibility across their mobile assets and services.
Next Level TEM
Telecomm expense management is a continuous and repetitious life-cycle process, efficiency increases the longer it is in operation. With TEM there is substantially more value to be gained by enlarging the program to include other key telecom activities and introducing best practices. These activities include sourcing and contract
management, ordering and provisioning management, expense management and advanced mobile expense and device management.
Another key process in which companies can see dividends via improvement-of-practices is to bring greater discipline to management of sourcing and contracting for telecom assets and services. In emergent TEM organizations, sourcing may be done by procurement generalists with moderate expertise in the mobile category. In today’s modern mobile landscape there is the reality of geographically-dispersed carriers and contracts with little oversight over enterprise-wide telecom spend, resulting in little consolidation activity. With more advanced organizations, sourcing will be done by procurement specialists with moderate experience in mobile sourcing. They will have better visibility into overall spend by type of service, and will undertake some competitive bidding among carriers for larger geographies. Typically, a mature TEM organization will have a dedicated, specialist telecommunications sourcing team in place with a deep understanding of enterprise-wide telecom spend by carrier, geography, and type of service. A prospering sourcing practice allows enterprises to secure the best possible contracts with carriers offering the most advantageous rates, and terms and conditions.
Ordering and Provisioning Management
Lack of automation makes it arduous to implement custom approval work-flows and processes which address the specific needs of each internal organization and provide timely status updates to ensure end-user satisfaction. In reasonably advanced organizations, this function is more streamlined, where some mobile-procurement activity is managed in an automated system, order approvals are tracked via email and there are some help desk services provided to support the ordering and provisioning process. More developed organizations take a best practices approach to this function, assigning a specific mobile services team, utilizing a multi-tiered product and service catalog and an online telecom portal for entering new orders and tracking status. Approvals are automated with customized work-flows, and managed help desk services are available for additional end-user support. One of the key benefits to this approach is ensuring that new orders and terminations directly modify the inventory to keep it current on a day-to-day level. In addition, enterprises can glean precious business intelligence to identify delays and take corrective action to expedite the process.
The best way to approach the improvement of a TEM program requires better management of ordering and provisioning. This entails ordering and setting up mobile services and assets. In many early stage TEM organizations, this function is undertaken by a generalist procurement department using manual processes, providing minimal provisioning support.
Managing end-user and business unit usage entails appraisal of invoice data and employing call accounting practices to enable the allocation of mobile costs to designated departments. This ensures organizational accountability while identifying and reducing inappropriate mobile usage and potential fraudulent usage. In advanced TEM organizations with standardized processes, the intelligence acquired can also allow department managers to manage and temper usage based on benchmark information. Dispute management is the process by which organizations can challenge erroneous charges and recover fees from carriers.
Advanced Mobile Expense and Device Management
The exponential growth of mobile devices and their usage in the enterprise has made it apparent that special attention must to be paid to the management of mobile devices and wireless networks. Moreover, recent trends in the industry, such as the increasing practice of “Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)” are multiplying the management, data governance and security concerns of enterprise IT managers. Real-life implementation of BYOD programs are showing that more management is needed and not less. As such, enterprises need forward-looking mobile expense and device management systems and solutions to manage, track and optimize their mobile and wireless spend while ensuring that corporate mobile policies are enforced. To achieve these goals, companies must centralize the ordering and provisioning activity and introduce appropriate approval processes to streamline the ongoing management of mobile usage. This can be achieved by using an online wireless portal that is tied to corporate approved catalogs which efficiently integrates standardized approval workflows. Wireless portals allow self-service ordering and tracking of mobile assets and provide managerial visibility and control of usage.
Other Important Needs
Companies also need to address growing end-user needs with the support of help desk services, which will help increase the productivity of end-users.
Knowledgeable, friendly help desk support can be the difference between resolution of an issue and spiraling inefficiency. In addition, enterprises should evaluate adopting Mobile Device Management (MDM). MDM solutions assist IT and app security policy management by accelerating time-to-resolution for mobile device issues, providing support for individual-liable (BYOD) and corporate-liable device management, separating and securing personal and corporate data on the device, and through enforcement of corporate mobile policies by controlling employee expenses and abuse.
Enterprise Mobile Strategy Management
According to a recent IDC study, worldwide smart phone shipments are forecast to grow 40% year over year with more than 1.0 billion units shipped this year alone. Two years ago, the worldwide smart phone market barely shipped half a billion units for the first time, to double that number in just two years highlights the universality that smart phones have achieved. Not only are mobile devices proliferating at an unprecedented rate, but their pervasiveness has changed the way consumer-employees behave and businesses must respond to remain efficient and agile. Mobile is fundamentally changing the way business is done as both customers demand new commerce models from their vendors and employees demand more flexibility from their employers with BYOD policies. This change requires enterprises to “rethink mobile”. Enterprises need to manage their mobile devices, including BYOD, to ensure both data governance for security and end-user support for productivity. Businesses need to devise and execute on comprehensive mobile strategies to ensure that they can take advantage of advanced wireless technologies.
Summary: Benefits of Best-in-Class TEM
Companies with strong telecom expense management practices gain greater oversight and control over the wireless lifecycle spend, allowing them to streamline their mobile operations and dramatically reduce costs.
- Lower Costs – Control rapidly increasing mobile and network spending.
- Gain Visibility – Gain a holistic view of the mobile lifecycle across business units, carriers and services including contracts, invoices and inventory.
- Optimize Networks – Optimize mobile communication networks for reduced costs and improved service.
- Manage Mobility – Proactively manage mobile devices and corporate wireless costs for optimized savings and policy compliance.
With over 20 years of accrued wireless management experience, mindWireless is well equipped to face any and all challenges in the ever-changing world of Telecomm Expense Management. Whether it is procurement, inventory management, mobile device management, spend-optimization or managed help desk support, mindWireless is the industry leader in getting businesses back to work.