There are many things to be mindful of when evaluating potential TEM partners. And we have written several other blogs detailing many of these, as it’s an extensive topic to address.
In this article, we’ll focus on what we would consider a couple of fundamental areas where we believe TEM providers often fall short. We want to focus on these together because they are important areas that you most certainly do not want your TEM to cut corners on.
Ironically, it’s these areas that some providers will try to cut corners if permitted, to increase their profit margins. So, keep your eyes wide open, especially during evaluations.
This is true whether informally interviewing TEM providers, or via a more formal RFP process. In either case, we recommend interviewing a minimum of 3 to 5 TEM providers with different profiles (e.g., their size, ownership model, expertise focus) and TEM industry footprints (e.g., market segment specialties, enterprise company size targeted).
When evaluating potential TEM partners, ask penetrating questions around these fundamental areas. Your goal is to ensure your next TEM partner decision is a good one; you want to avoid the all-too-common TEM that oversells and underdelivers on Sales promises.
2 TEM Provider Mistakes to Avoid
1. Don’t choose a TEM with poor customer support
What we are pointing to here is essentially sub-par customer support. This can manifest itself in several different forms, all resulting from the desire to keep profit margins as high as possible. Let’s examine a few:
Avoid unseasoned support
Many firms hire youth over experience. No real surprises here as this group is typically right out of college and have very little experience. They will be on the highly affordable end of the labor-cost spectrum, and they tend to be obedient and eager to please.
To be clear, there is nothing wrong with this group, but you do not want them gaining their experience at your expense. In other words, you want your tough problems worked on by highly seasoned personnel that have deep industry domain experience.
Do not be afraid to inquire about this in interviews. Who on the team will be assigned to certain practice areas or tackling complicated problems?
Avoid excessive overseas support
Many firms will outsource their customer support functions to keep costs low and TEM firm margins high. As we have often noted, this may be good for them and their investors, but it often ends badly for U.S.-based employees and customers.
For example, more experienced and knowledgeable employees in, say, the United States will often be laid-off in favor of far cheaper labor overseas.
This would not necessarily be a problem for you the customer if you were guaranteed the work quality would not suffer and that you would not notice a difference.
The problem here is that the quality of the work almost always suffers, if for no other reason than it is difficult to coordinate team activities and communications across continents and different time zones, especially when time differences may be 10 hours or greater.
Moreover, many of the overseas firms know they are being selected for cost, so they staff accordingly, with staff overrepresented on the youthful and inexperienced side.
Avoid a firm that sees highly seasoned experts as expensive
Yes, older employees with experience and extensive educations can be expensive. But it’s this way for a reason.
These are the folks who can make major differences in results in audit and especially optimization work. You want seasoned folks with track records for results taking the lead for you here.
We are talking about differences in savings recommendations and realized savings that can translate to a difference between hundreds of thousands of dollars and perhaps millions over a course of years, say, 3 to 6 years or more.
2. Don’t choose a TEM that does not prioritize inventory development / management
We have stressed the importance of inventory in other articles as well but it’s important to do so because it one of the most important areas to “lock-down” in a strong TEM program. It’s, in fact, the data bedrock of all well-kept TEM programs.
Avoid an inventory that is built primarily from invoice data
A really detailed inventory that is built primarily from customer service record detail and not simply invoice data is what you want here. Ask TEM providers that you interview very detailed questions on their approach and process for inventory development and maintenance.
Avoid an inventory that is not designed to be tested
The ability to perform meaningful testing of your inventory services is very important. Strong TEM teams and programs will vigorously analyze their network to assess operational effectiveness and cost management.
The team will conduct an analysis of service use, service needs, and fraud. They will then ask themselves other pertinent questions such as:
• For services needed and wanted, are they working properly?
• And for IT network services and IT network assets currently deployed, are they being utilized in the most effective and efficient manner, in other words fully optimized?
Avoid an inventory that is not updated daily
The ability to update MACD changes (Moves, Adds, Deletes, Changes) in an automated and updated fashion is important. You will also want to inquire about new service installs and deletions, in addition to price changes. How are updates managed by the prospective TEM?
You will want to look for strong automation and real-time updating. And don’t be afraid to want to do a deep dive into the firm’s TEM software / platform to see how it is designed to rise to this management challenge.
There’s a lot to TEM. You have probably realized that by now if you are reading this. This said, the two areas covered here: (1) Customer Support and (2) Inventory Management are extremely important.
You will want to evaluate a great deal when interviewing prospective TEM partners, and you will want to prioritize both these areas for inspection because they can truly make or break the success of your overall TEM program.
If you’d like to consider Tellennium in your TEM vendor comparisons, contact us to schedule a brief demo of our solution.
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