What Contributes to Successful TEM Programs?
Successful TEM (Telecom Expense Management), WEM (Wireless Expense Management) and MMS (Managed Mobility Services) programs have four critical elements in common. These elements apply to organizations that have had a program in place for several years as much as for those that are evaluating programs.
Executives should help define the rules and measures for tracking the program’s success. Executive support is critical because TEM, WEM, and MMS programs have many different stakeholders who may have conflicting goals. Executives can help align competing goals and prioritize what is most important. Also, executives can drive adoption of the program. After implementation, executive support will help ensure that the system is utilized to track all telecom and IT assets. When executives use reports from the program and participate in annual reviews of its effectiveness, they help to strengthen it.
Ability to Process Bills
The wide range of carrier billing formats and a lack of standards is a big challenge for invoice processing. An effective system must be able to process both paper and electronic formats. Electronic bills come in many unique formats. A good expense management system should be able to process all bills and normalize the data across different carriers. It must also flexibly adapt when carriers change their billing formats. If bills are only available in paper format, the system must be able to ensure accurate data entry for large volumes of paper invoices. Finally, organizations should not forget the importance of the telecom bill payment process.
Dashboard reports are great, but enterprises also need access to detailed, granular information. Ideally, reports will have hyperlinks to allow users to drill into more details. Getting granular information will often depend on the level of detail obtained during bill processing. Existing programs can benefit from reviewing the level of detail provided and discussing ways to improve the information. Sometimes, information is limited by what the carriers provide. Solutions providers can leverage client participation to request more detail from carriers.
Saving money has always been one of the core elements of a successful TEM program. That still holds true today, even though fixed/mobile telecom expense management, and related technologies have evolved to offer many additional benefits to organizations. The scope of savings has also evolved.
TEM, WEM, and MMS programs provide four main cost savings areas:
- Labor efficiencies
- Indirect savings
- Improved security
- Savings on telecom expenses
Labor efficiencies include automation of manual procurement processes, inventory management, invoice processing, usage charge-back and reporting, reducing help desk support and consolidation of invoices to reduce the volume of payments.
Indirect savings come from activities like ensuring that orders are placed with preferred providers with lower contract pricing. Unifying processes and improving collaboration provide other important benefits.
Security enhancements and risk mitigation from asset tracking and reporting on usage help improve security, which can also produce cost savings from breaches and cybercrime. Depending on the priorities set by executives this may be enough.
However, most programs also rely on direct hard dollar cost savings. An effective program will provide recovery of refunds for billing errors. There will also be cost avoidance by reducing future spending. Wireline optimization will drive savings by switching to higher capacity, lower cost services, eliminating unused services and identifying services with no contracts. For wireless services, there will be ongoing opportunities to optimize voice and data usage to match consumption to plans and dynamically updating as mobile plans change. Elimination of late payment penalties and service disruptions for late payments, nonpayment, or lost bills can also produce direct and indirect savings.
Executive buy-in, the ability to process bills, granular reporting and cost savings are all critical to driving success. New programs should consider these areas as part of their evaluations. For existing programs, it is never too late to work with the solutions provider and have an open, constructive discussion on ways to improve in these areas.