In today’s current enterprise marketplace, you will want to partner with a TEM provider if you are an expense management leader running a modern-day enterprise telecom/technology expense management (TEM) team.
This is so for several reasons. One reason is that you will need to leverage their TEM technology platform, which in today’s ‘big data’ world is more of a need to have rather than a nice to have.
Another important reason is that you will need their subject matter expertise and specialization capabilities because no matter how talented your internal team is, it won’t be enough to scale effectively in today’s hectic and chaotic enterprise arena.
For example, technological change is tough to keep up with and mergers and acquisitions are prevalent within the industry, which makes things more complicated.
This article will focus on the three things you should do before selecting a TEM partner. These things will go a long way toward preventing the big disappointments that we know all too many of our TEM customers have experienced in the past.
3 Musts Before Selecting a TEM Provide
1. Speak to people with genuine experience with TEM
It seems obvious, right? As is the case with most things in life, people tend to assume they know much more than they do (explained by the Dunning-Kruger effect.)
Or we can point to the common phrase, “You don’t know what you don’t know,” but you get the idea – people tend to overestimate their ability to understand and/or manage things and are often ignorant of their ignorance.
Speak with industry colleagues, consult with industry research organizations such as Gartner, do your own thorough research, and interview in detail – at a minimum – three to five TEM providers so you can compare the pros versus the cons that each offer.
The key takeaway
Educate yourself thoroughly before taking anyone’s word or hastily jumping into a TEM solution because you may be experiencing pressure. Take the time to understand the TEM industry, TEM providers, and your organization’s expense management needs in detail. This will give you the best chance to select the right TEM partner for your organization
2. Put key TEM provider differentiators under a microscope
As you become more confident in your knowledge of the TEM industry and how partnering with a TEM provider can help optimize your team, you will want to closely compare your key “must haves” against each TEM provider’s ability to deliver.
Remember: Not all TEM providers are created equal. The ownership model of a TEM (e.g. PE model vs. private ownership) is important to understand; this will give clues to their priorities. And certain TEM providers have better TEM technology platforms than others; this is another big one to evaluate closely relative to TEM platform configurability as well as dashboard and reporting capabilities.
What about customer support? There are providers who choose to save money by outsourcing support functions overseas and/or hiring more junior personnel to keep overhead lower. If TEM customer support is important to you, you will want to know about this before making your TEM vendor selection.
Do you have international support needs? Or is your focus primarily, say, a North American focus with locations across the United States and Canada?
All these considerations, amongst others, will determine the right solution for you and your team. (One size does not fit all within the world of TEM.)
The key takeaway
Having the wrong TEM partner can be just as painful or worse than not having a TEM partner at all. We’ve heard horror stories relayed to us by our TEM customers that worked with bad TEM providers in the past.
Take your time and get this decision right. It’s worth waiting longer, i.e., two or three more months if necessary to properly complete your TEM provider vetting process before proceeding here. There is simply too much pain involved in choosing the wrong TEM partner so don’t let this happen to you.
3. Work with your TEM provider to document business objectives in all forms of your agreement
Talk is cheap in this world. We all know this and, unfortunately, there is no shortage of slick-talking sales personnel under quota pressure to say anything to you to gain your signature.
We are all familiar with the drill here: “I closed the deal, now let operations figure out the rest.” You absolutely must put all key business objectives and key performance indicators (KPIs) in writing within your TEM agreement.
And it’s not enough to have things mentioned loosely within the agreement. It’s critical that all parties clearly and in plain language understand what success and failure look like with respect to your TEM partnership.
Your TEM agreement will contain various components such as referenced attachments, addendums, schedules, appendixes et cetera. It’s a TEM imperative that you and your new TEM partner document everything, as noted, very cleanly within the relevant portions of your TEM agreement.
To put this another way: Your internal TEM project manager should be able to work with your TEM partner project manager in weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly meetings to assess TEM service delivery performance.
If done right, there will be nothing subjective about this. Your internal TEM project manager will be able to hold your TEM provider fully accountable for performance standards and objectives they agreed to and signed off on after the deal is done.
The key takeaway
Holding your new TEM partner fully accountable – not ‘kind of’ accountable – is what you want here. This means spelling out everything in plain black-and-white language within your TEM agreement, which will include your Service Level Agreement (SLA) and all other supporting contractual documentation
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