By Scott Davis
Properly managing telecom, mobile and unified communications play a key role within overall enterprise IT infrastructure. According to Gartner, telecom service spend represents 15% of global IT spend. Enterprises seeking to tackle the management of this complex environment while simultaneously reducing costs most often turn to third-party TEM companies.
TEM (Telecom Expense Management) providers empower organizations to cut internal costs while gaining better visibility and control over their telecom environment. As more enterprises turn to cloud services, TEM companies are adapting to support not only traditional fixed and mobile capabilities but the wider world of IT communications, including cloud services, IoT, and beyond.
In fact, as more business functions become digitalized, enterprises of all sizes are challenged with finding ways to optimize costs and manage efficiencies across all forms of communications and cloud services. As such, understanding the types of TEM companies available to support the scale and scope of your program will give you a leg-up when beginning the search.
TEM services provide enterprises with the ability to order, provision, support and manage costs of large-scale communications and associated IT services, as well as often providing analytic tools for C-level technology decision making. TEM helps companies control costs and avoid unplanned budget expenses, and can also assist in streamlining operations and strategic financial planning. It is a proven and efficient way to identify overspending patterns, reduce waste and create short-term and long-term savings.
There are a number of TEM companies offering various types of solutions. Enterprises can choose from several options ranging from basic TEM SaaS services to fully-managed TEM or TEM business process outsourcing (BPO) engagements. The most common TEM delivery types fall within the following three categories:
Software only – In this option, the TEM company provides the software, but the organization chooses to self-manage internally. The software may be server-hosted or vendor-hosted. Most commonly, the company offers a SaaS solution with a web-based TEM tool for customers to manage all or part of their telecom lifecycle process in-house.
Software and services (hybrid) – With a hybrid model, a TEM company provides TEM software as well as additional services, such as invoice data entry. The customer still retains staff to handle TEM but are able to outsource certain tasks.
Fully-Managed Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) – For enterprises who want to outsource telecom completely, they can turn to a vendor capable of a full-service business process outsourcing (BPO) engagement. With this option, the BPO provider will typically take care of the entire process of ordering services and auditing expenses, including invoice processing, inventory management, disputing bills with carriers and more. The BPO provider functions as the customer’s telecom staff and many offer online reporting and ordering tools.
Every telecom and technology environment is different and evolves over time. The right choice depends on your organizational objectives and in-house resources. Do you have staff who have the time and experience to manage telecom using software, or would you prefer to outsource? It also depends on the size and complexity of spend as well as future plans for your communications environment.
Consider the wider financial impact of your decision. A comprehensive, integrated TEM solution leverages technology-enabled process automation and centralized data management in order to maximize savings over time. Deployed as a managed service, TEM can be self-funding. It also eliminates the need to invest in hardware to host the software, provide IT resources to administer the system, manage updates and more.
What are your objectives? Start with the end in mind. What are your goals and long-term objectives, both for your organization and for managing your communications spend? What do you want the TEM provider to be responsible for? What are your KPIs that determine success? If you have plans to evolve your communications, can the TEM provider help?
Evaluate potential hard and soft cost savings. Especially if you have a complex service mix or limited visibility, a TEM provider will be able to help optimize your telecom costs.
What are the automation capabilities for scaling? Review the TEM platform and its automation capabilities for scaling to services that go beyond traditional fixed and mobile. Does it provide required levels of reporting and inventory management detail without diminished service quality? Consider the quality of analytics and the range of services brought under management.
Perform due diligence on the company. Is the company the right fit for your unique needs? Ask vendors to provide recent references of deployments of a similar size, scope and services mix.
The right partner will be committed to achieving your organization’s long-term objectives and will help maximize the value of your communications spend. When selecting a TEM service provider, be sure that they understand your IT environment and have experience providing solutions to similar organizations. They should be able to offer TEM software and services, as well as analytic capabilities to drive improvements.
To learn more about what TEM companies actually do, check out this video.
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