BlogTelecom Audits – Effective? Yes, But There’s More.

Telecom Audits – Effective? Yes, But There’s More.

March 9, 2017, Expense Management

While telecom audits are effective tools in helping organizations uncover savings, an ongoing Telecom Expense Management (TEM) solution will take you even further to drive ongoing business value   

By Jason Williams & Jessica VanVorst

The Telecom Audit is a valuable process that will help you uncover savings from your organization’s telecom expenses. The term is sometimes used in a narrow sense to refer to a specific process such as invoice validation. However, I am referring to the telecom audit as the process of taking a comprehensive look at the current state of an organization’s telecommunications environment. It is primarily a manual process that baselines your telecommunications environment and identifies historical billing errors and credit opportunities. It also exposes some potential improvement opportunities to reduce expenses through service optimization.

The Audit is Where You Start

If you have never implemented a telecom audit, we typically recommend it as a great first step. It will often deliver immediate, hard-dollar returns and uncover opportunities for process improvements within your business. We start by performing an initial baseline audit on your current telecom charges.  We review your invoices and contracts and in the process, identify opportunities to eliminate unused services and recover credits for overcharges. Our initial audits uncover billing errors that we are able to trace back to the “in service” date, capturing erroneous charges spanning back up to 24 months.

Since these audits can yield immediate savings, some organizations rely on audits as their primary telecom expense management mechanism. While they have benefits, experience tells us that this is not a good recommendation as a one stop solution. The telecom audit is closer to a static snapshot – giving you a great baseline view. However, this approach actually leaves untold dollars on the table. For a more long-term approach for driving business value, best-in-class organizations have turned to implementing a Telecom Expense Management (TEM) program.

Where Do Audits Fall Short

Once you have a one-time audit in place, unless there is ongoing management, the gains you had may be lost for the following reasons:

  • Employee turnover – Staff changes trigger device and service MACDs (moves, adds, changes, and disconnections.) These changes mean that extensions and devices must be reassigned and inventory must be updated. Without a TEM solution, these changes are difficult to coordinate and verify. Errors tend to accumulate and the ability to validate invoices, track wireless devices and plans, and manage expenses is undermined.
  • Lack of adherence to policy – Appropriate use policy is often defined but rarely enforced. An ongoing usage management solution, drawing on data from call accounting and invoice management systems, can provide the information necessary to identify misuse of telecom resources.
  • Manual processes – Without adequate software support, managing sourcing, procurement, invoice and inventory are labor-intensive manual processes prone to errors.
  • Multiple applications and databases – A holistic approach to telecom expense management is impossible when inventory, invoice and usage data are managed with separate applications and databases.
  • Changing technology – As the telecom network evolves and technology is upgraded, these changes need to be reflected in the telecom management systems real-time – a process greatly simplified with a TEM solution.
  • Increasing network complexity – New office locations, new requirements and the deployment of hybrid systems on the path to unified communications all add complexity to the network and can create problems for manual expense management systems.

Without a centralized, automated TEM program, these errors and inaccuracies quickly accumulate and impair the organization’s ability to manage telecom inventory, reconcile invoices, keep track of corporate telecom requirements and determine if carrier contract commitments are being met. While the next audit might identify and temporarily resolve some of these problems and inefficiencies, the dollars lost between audits are largely unrecoverable. And because the organization does not have sustained visibility into the telecom network over time – only snapshots provided by audits – it cannot identify trends, make forecasts or do the strategic planning necessary to generate ongoing value and enable future success.

TEM Provides Ongoing Value with Automation and Centralized Data Management

Technology-enabled TEM solutions can help organizations leverage the information gained through an audit to implement permanent process improvements and maximize long-term savings. But not just any TEM solution will do. TEM solutions that offer the greatest return on investment are those that leverage software to automate best practices and provide continuous value. These solutions will maintain the optimization achieved through the audit process, adapt to changing conditions (such as the incorporation of new technologies into the telecom environment), and provide continuous improvement of processes – such as wireless expense management and contract management – that might otherwise spiral out of control.

As you consider a long-term plan for helping your organization optimize telecom expenses, look to TEM for its ability to deliver greater returns.

Want to learn more about this topic?   Check out this white paper titled:  Why Telecom Audits Alone Are Not Enough.

About the Authors:

Jason Williams is the Optimization Manager at Calero, responsible for Wireline Audit, Wireless Audit, Inventory and Procurement.  Jessica VanVorst is the Inventory Team Lead at Calero, responsible for Inventory builds and large scale implementations.  Together they have decades of practical experience in network infrastructure, telecom, audit and TEM.