By Tanya Seda, Chief Strategy Officer
With all the upheaval and economic uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, many enterprises are assessing services to lower costs as more and more workers return to the office. Typically, the one area of significant savings that is often overlooked is the telecom bill itself. IT staff are so used to going to the TEM provider or the carrier portal to grab quick reports, that the bill itself goes unseen.
This “flaw”, i.e., being tied into an ongoing process without periodic analysis is easily fixed. Having a professional conduct an audit will often uncover excessive rates, services not disconnected, change charges and taxes, surcharges and fees for services that aren’t being used. Reviewing hundreds of monthly invoices is a time-consuming and daunting task that few companies are inclined to undertake. On top of that, telecommunications billing is notoriously confusing and complicated, making it difficult to compare charges to equally confusing contract terms to validate correct pricing and terms.
There are telecom expense management systems (TEMS) that automate the process of auditing and monitoring your telecom invoices. However, billing errors are only a symptom of a larger problem. For example, if you moved from MPLS to SDWAN but forgot to disconnect the ports associated with access, it is hard to know where to begin if you haven’t been tracking port to access for troubleshooting. Just in case things aren’t confusing enough there typically are multiple invoices for one service.
Many enterprises have no idea how many telecom services they’re using due to patch work nature of the provisioning processes. The regional or international nature of telecom services exacerbates this problem geographically dispersed enterprises will typically contract with multiple carriers to reach every location.
Another issue is that employees will order services, somebody in procurement will review and approve the contract, then the Accounts Payable team takes over when the invoices arrive. Unfortunately, there is not effective communication among all the parties involved. For example, a DevOps project might require an S3 bucket (AWS) for a 3-month marking blitz in the UK. They use their credit card and expense the charges and management is not informed the service was ordered or how it was paid. Three months pass and this service is left lingering due to poor internal communication.
New technologies and services have increased the number of telecom options, making it difficult to choose the best mix of price, performance, and availability. Adding to the confusion is the fact that many companies do not have staff familiar enough within the telecom industry to negotiate contracts effectively and assure market pricing. This creates a “refinancing” landscape where it’s easier to stick with existing services and established relationships then to negotiate with new vendors to get better volume discounts and terms. A company never gets true market rates in this situation.
TEMs can help determine if your connectivity services could meet your business requirements more precisely and cost-effectively. They will work with you to identify the accurate services for each location and develop a roadmap that reduces costs and business disruption. Professional services are available to help handle the deployment from end to end.