By Tanya Seda, Chief Strategy Officer
Telecommunication expense management (TEM) and business workflows go hand in hand; one function within the TEM ecosystem that does not get as much attention as it should is outsourced bill payment. That’s unfortunate, because incorrectly or delayed invoice payment can represent a substantial expense and leaves a large hole in an otherwise streamlined and optimized TEM process. Companies who employ TEM solutions know that they play an important role in the management of assets and expenses, yet the payment for those are most often left to traditional accounts payables groups, not ideally suited to the complexities of carrier and services billing.
On the other hand, a TEM-based bill payment service can incorporate functions that are customized to support the unique billing models of a company’s suppliers and the payables requirements of your business. The incorporation of bill pay functionality into the various modules of a TEM-based model helps a company manage its IT expenses much more effectively.
With an integrated approach, an enterprise can better keep track of the assets, usage and expenses as well as perform a “deep dive” to analyze key performance metrics and identify—and reconcile–anomalies. Adding automated bill payment to this workflow greatly improves accuracy because it is based on the review of assets and charges from each service provider.
TEM bill payment has another valuable benefit as well: the ability to reduce or eliminate the recurring billing errors. At times, billing errors arise due to bad communication or inconsistent information from the supplier. Too, using different tools that are disconnected with the TEM workflow often leads to additional errors.
When utilizing a TEM from end-to-end, if a service is ordered it can be tracked through the entire process, all the way to the bill payment, which reduces or even stops revenue leakage. Without having bill payment in your TEM workstream the final check is left out of the process leaving the invoicing ripe for undetected errors. It just makes good sense to integrate this final financial component into the rest of the TEM process you have in place already.
You could argue, a many companies do, that they’ve got a handle on the bill payment part of things. But that’s not usually the case if they were to take a closer look. The objective of a TEM bill pay program is to account for every piece of information from the initial order to the actual payment and that is not something a traditional finance group can do easily. Few invoice types are more complex or prone to errors than network and services bills. Here are some points of exposure:
No longer are the services provided by a telecom company limited to the enterprise wired connections or cell phones. You now have to be able to manage and accurately understand your cloud services and usage as well. A TEM can help monitor the billing landscape and look for optimization opportunities.
SIP services are another area where the billing gets tricky. One must understand usage requirements and managed service components as well as international long distance usage. Today, every customer has a smartphone which supports a variety of applications. A TEM can track the amount of data that is being consumed by each and every user. Remember: the quantity of data has a direct bearing on the bill your business receives.
The number of services provided by technology service providers continues to increase. We see this through M&As as well as new players entering the market. This is where the enterprise really needs help: there’s only so much finance staff to go around, and none of them are TEM experts. This is where a TEM can augment your staff. You need to manage an IT network portfolio that consists of customers located in different parts of the country and the world. Moreover, the requirements of every location are unique, especially internationally. In these cases, the use of the TEMs billing programs helps enterprises control its costs and maintain an accurate database of the correct rates for services purchased under your provider contracts.
The days are gone when a specific service provider controlled and monopolized its stack of services in any given territory. The enterprise completely understands that they need a TEM who can handle their technology spend. New entrants in the technology domain have new billing platforms and structures that need to be understood and managed in order to ensure your bill is correct. The use of a TEM provider who offers bill pay can streamline corporate payments to optimize, increase security and improve the bottom line.
Processing vendor payments in a timely and accurate fashion can be, frankly, a nightmare. Often without even knowing the reason, companies can suffer from service outages and late fees because there was delay or a problem with the in-house invoice payment. Adding a TEM payment capability creates a critical end-to-end process, one that is a closed loop, tying payments to invoices, all the way back to physical and services inventories. This accurate linkage is a huge cost-avoidance tool, and also eliminates AP manual work, adding cost savings to the value proposition.
One unexpected advantage of a TEM billing solution is its ability to reduce or eliminate recurring billing errors—mistakes that exist month to month in the invoices and are therefore hidden from obvious view.
Businesses looking to close the loop on controlling the costs of their communications infrastructure risk leaving a lot of money on the table without adding specialized TEM bill payment processing to their workflow. It’s the last “checkbox” for an accurate, automated way to control cost and avoid service disruption.Learn More About Our Bill Payment Service