By Tanya Seda
Over twenty-five years ago enterprises started to dedicate resources to this “thing” called Telecom Expense Management (TEM). It was focused on processing and auditing the sometimes-pallets full of invoices in order to find and correct billing errors and identify cost savings opportunities. The services moved from manual audits to more and broader automated processes, and numerous companies have evolved to build a robust and still-growing industry segment.
That said, at the time, most companies still considered TEM a tactical tool like other expense management systems. Over time, though, some TEM providers recognized that tools are only part of the solution and began offering a managed services-based solution that blended technology with hands on operational and strategic expertise to create an outsourced model that brought dramatically more value to the customer. And that value has just increased, especially given how much more complex the typical enterprise’s network and communications environments have become.
Today Managed TEM has expanded from traditional landline and wireless communications to include support and oversight of the remote worker and their infrastructure needs, cloud and IoT environments and advisory for optimized and cost-effective enterprise communication strategy. As a result, for companies which employ Managed TEM see improved alignment between IT, finance, and line-of-business leaders. The reason for this is the fact that through Managed TEM it’s possible to present a holistic view into the entire telecom spend across business units, carriers, and service types. Industry research has shown that organizations that have implemented a Managed TEM solution reduce IT operational costs by an average of 32% vs. those that have not.
Moreover, the combination of tools and expert operators offers near-perfect control over processes such as invoice management, inventory updates, quote and order placement, and contract validation to ensure telecom spending is under control and even generates substantial savings. Managed TEM providers will optimize wireline and mobile communications networks, provision network conversions and new assets and manage mobile devices and expenses more efficiently. As a bonus, by automating and streamlining telecom processes, TEM allows for better employee productivity by allowing them to focus on further strategic technology initiatives rather than mundane—but arcane—telecom services management and reporting.
A Managed TEM program takes a holistic approach to managing the expenses and usage of fixed and mobile telecommunications assets and services. This macro approach maximizes efficiency and minimizes the costs associated with managing enterprise technology environments. A comprehensive TEM strategy aligns the right technology, processes, people and policies to achieve cohesiveness throughout the TEM journey.
Managed TEM is a dynamic and iterative lifecycle process and there is much more value to be gained by expanding the program to include other key areas as well as by introducing and socializing industry best practices. Examples of these extended activities include sourcing and contract management, ordering and provisioning management, expense management and advanced mobile expense and device management.
Contract benchmarking and contract management improve the overall enterprise communications program for technology assets and services. For example, there may be many geographically-dispersed carriers and contracts in place with little available oversight of enterprise-wide technology spend and by extension, little opportunity for cost-efficient consolidation activity. A Managed TEM with a benchmarking and sourcing practice allows enterprises to secure the best contracts with carriers offering the most advantageous rates, and terms and conditions.
Quoting, Ordering and Provisioning Management is another element in the TEM framework that enterprises need to bring greater discipline to for success. These functions include quoting, ordering and setting up network services and mobile assets. Typical in-house processes lack of automation makes it difficult to implement custom approval workflows and processes which address the specific needs of each internal department, but a Managed TEM can provide that automation and workflow as well as help desks to offer one-off support as needed for quick problem resolution.
The pressure of changing technology standards and options often outpaces actual technological progress, stressing the existing network infrastructure and challenging the enterprise to keep up with the increasing demands of the business. New technology requirements that hit us in 2020 and the sudden shift to a work-from-home model introduced video conferencing or live streaming that put enormous stress on existing networks, which often were too old and slow. The enterprise had to respond by applying ad hoc, selective fixes and upgrades, often producing suboptimal results. The inadequacy of existing telecom networks may change how the enterprise caries out significant activities to holistically evaluate their networks. Many Managed TEMs helped the enterprise review their network configurations, benchmarking and optimization and resulted in network infrastructures that are better aligned with projected usage rates and prepared to support strategic corporate initiatives. Managed TEMs are equipped with data about the enterprise inventory, orders, invoices, allocations, and contracts that in-house teams simply don’t have.
A Managed TEM solution enables enterprises to reduce telecom expenses by actively managing the full mobile and network-related communications lifecycle. The solution streamlines and automates the entire telecom lifecycle including inventory management; procurement and order management; invoice processing, auditing and cost allocation; mobile expense and device management; and advanced business intelligence and reporting.
Just as important, a Managed TEM provides structure, visibility and agility as well as the offloading of complex but important operational functions, enabling the business to focus on what it does best, while being supported by a provider that is doing what it does best for their customer.