By Tanya Seda
We are in what most experts suggest is an extended period of extreme economic uncertainty (thanks a lot, coronavirus!). That means every dollar counts, and it’s critical to leave no stone unturned (so to speak) to identify inefficiencies, unneeded spend and cost savings. That is why a Technology Expense Management (TEM) solution—and partner– is more important than ever.
One of the most important benefits of a TEM is to dig into the myriad technology invoices your business received monthly and highlight the errors that could be costing you thousands (or even millions) on an annual basis. Especially with work from home (WFH) initiatives, a TEM partner’s efforts will help eliminate the risk of being overcharged for new end devices, cloud and legacy services to support users, which is key to developing a healthy technology expense management strategy.
Below are some common, but costly, invoice mistakes that TEM solutions can help you avoid:
Enterprises and service providers often negotiate special agreements during contract renewals. What we often see is that billing programs do not always reflect those newly negotiated “specials”, and as a result, unnecessary charges appear, unnoticed on the invoice. In cases like these, it is crucial to trace the error and claim it from the vendor. That is where a TEM partner can be invaluable. Review in detail every invoice and the line-by-line expenses where a new contract was just implemented!
This is a three-part issue that occurs with some frequency but is hard to detect. First, your month-to-month invoices frequently show differences in the amount due to contracted rates reverting, wrongly, to “full retail” rates. One cause is that the service provider is including ‘overage charges”, though your telecom plan contract likely includes a set fee for text messages, minutes, and internet data, so overage fees shouldn’t be there on your invoice.
Second, “install” or one-time charges for installations and hourly data rates could cost your company thousands of dollars in overage expenses.
Third, for data circuits that have been experiencing problems, that usually means more bandwidth is required to eradicate issues. What is often overlooked is requesting a VPN utilization report for your circuits. Your TEM partner will review these reports against billing, and what will frequently be discovered are unexpected bandwidth overage charges. This information will enable you to take action to resolve the issue by upgrading the circuits in question and reduce the costs going forward.
If you have subscribed to third-party services offered outside of your service provider’s plans, those vendors may use your telecom vendor as a ‘billing agent’ for the services consumed. This approach may result in the telecom provider making errors when accounting for third-party bills on the invoice. Further, it is very common that the additional services are rarely used, but the service provider may still add these charges according to third-party billing rates. By reviewing utilization, you may be able to save considerable funds.
A common “miss” in invoices is the inclusion of activation charges on new mobile devices and other areas of your telecom infrastructure that have been waived through your contracts. It is very important to cross-check all invoices to ensure that all of the fees have actually been waived: this is where a TEM solution saves the day! Fee waivers are often inaccurately captured by invoicing software, and while some of the charges may be waived, they may not be for every new device. An accurate and correct inventory is a must, and only a TEM partner can ensure that accuracy.
With huge enterprise and the mass WFH initiatives happening, usually encompassing dozens, or even hundreds of accounts, you need to check all those accounts line by line to make sure you are not paying for the same or multiple services. Service providers’ billing teams frequently (but usually inadvertently) commit errors with handling multiple accounts for the same customer. It is better for you to trust your vendors to remain vigilant during the invoice creation process, and it is better to invest in a TEM partner that helps you detect and reverse errors before they hit you with a financial burden.
We continue to see service providers adding and creating new surcharges without the client’s prior knowledge. When negotiating with a vendor, ask them for a pro-forma invoice sample that would include ALL Taxes and Surcharges. These fees can increase the overall bill by 25%, and often carriers can have a 5-10% difference in their surcharges eroding any potential savings you had assumed would occur. Since these are not mandated by any Government but rather approved, they can have serious cost implications. Look for things like Real Estate Surcharge, Property Tax Recovery Fee, Service Tax Access Recovery Charge, and other charges before agreeing to move services from one provider to another.
In conclusion, we have found in our years of bill audit & optimization there are several areas that companies must review to save their organization millions in charges. A forensic line-by-line review of your bills is the only way to identify cost savings opportunities so spend the time at least every 6-months to assure accurate vendor billing.