3 Ways Dedicated Support Helps Utility Expense Management

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Having great support within the expense management world – whether it be for utility expense management or the closely related discipline of telecom expense management for that matter – is something that is generally underappreciated until it is truly needed. 

When your accounts payable department gets swamped with a myriad of utility invoices that it cannot pay on time, late fees will pile up quickly. Your organization will be in acute pain. Or you end up overpaying for services erroneously billed because your internal team is not properly supported in the process of bill reviews. Again, painful, very painful, and costly. 

Employee morale will suffer, and management will fall under great duress in trying to remedy these situations in a reactionary way that often makes the problem(s) worse. And this is only the tip of the iceberg amongst many other issues that will certainly develop without competent and experienced utility expense management support personnel.  

These are only two simple examples but the common theme here is unneeded pain. And this pain comes from a lack of proper support for key expense management service areas.

Utility Expense Management – Experienced Support

In this article, we will highlight the virtues of securing proper support for your utility expense management program by partnering with a reputable expense management provider.   

A competent provider will be able to lend their technology and processes to the mission, in addition to their experienced personnel, which is often overlooked and undervalued, yet just as important to strong program management for utility services. 

Some things will always be timeless, and human talent is one of them. It may fall out of favor, but it will never be completely out of style. (Warning: Many firms nowadays outsource support services, many of which are overseas, to reduce costs. We caution against this, and we’ll address below further.) 

Let’s review in greater detail how this underappreciated area of support really does drive value and savings for your organization, even in this modern era that is obsessed with the virtues that technology brings to the table. 

3 Ways That Dedicated Support Teams Drive Value for Utility Expense Management

Industry-specific expertise is invaluable for strong utility program management: We often speak of the virtues of the three levers that expense management leaders can pull. They are technology, processes, and people.  

You really do want strong expense management fitness in each of these areas; they are all needed, but people will always be especially important because they are necessary in critical ways:

 

1. Technology must be built, maintained, and managed by people

We can all agree that expense management technology platforms and their capabilities, especially those currently in service by competent expense management providers, are important and will only continue to get better.And they will get exponentially better with artificial intelligence taking center stage these days. Yet, human oversight and management will always be needed as a final say in all matters involving our technology.
A dedicated and skilled human support team that a reputable expense management provider can provide will know how to best leverage and employ the technology in use. Moreover, they will know how to oversee its use in conjunction with strong utility process management.

They will also possess the industry knowledge that is hard won via many years of experience and is truly invaluable, especially as it relates to more nuanced expense management decisions (e.g., optimization analyses or sourcing support).

Takeaway: Fully embracing technology is necessary nowadays, but this emphasis should not cloud the fact that it will not fully eliminate human oversight and management, even in technology-laden fields such as the expense management industry.

A dedicated utility expense management support team will add tremendous value which often translates to hundreds of thousands of dollars –millions for many larger enterprises – within a common 3-year utility expense management agreement.

Finally, we highly recommend domestic-based support. You will always want a quick turnaround, especially for matters that you deem both urgent and important. If the support team is overseas in a distant time zone, this naturally will present challenges.
Also, would such a distant support team be as knowledgeable and nimble with all that is going on domestically, and within the industry?

2. Expense management processes must have human oversight and ongoing management

Processes are only as useful as there is the ability to properly sustain and enforce them. You need an experienced and knowledgeable team that can effectively manage established expense management processes that are informed by best practices.

Processes provide the needed structure for each area of support within an expense management program. For example, inventory management, invoice management, dispute management, ordering and provisioning, help desk, audit and optimization, usage management, etc.

Takeaway: No matter how good the technology employed, or the knowledge possessed by skilled employees, both these areas must be anchored by strong processes to produce maximum results for your utility expense management program.
The same needs and goals pursued in a traditional telecom expense management program are just as relevant here with respect to utility expense management.

3. Experienced and skilled human support will bring ingenuity and experience to issues in real-time

This is where hard-won experience kicks in. Yes, natural abilities or aptitudes may make some expense management consultants shine a little brighter than others.

However, in the expense management world, years of experience make a really big difference. There is much to consider. For example, different utility providers may utilize different billing practices, there will be industry regulations to comply with, and alternative energy technologies will come into favor, while others will fall out of favor.

These areas of management require highly nuanced considerations that experienced and mature analysts are well-positioned to make; this is where the depth of experience and industry knowledge really have an impact on long-term program results.

Takeaway: Having readily available skilled and experienced personnel with deep domain-specific knowledge is an invaluable asset, no matter the functional area within your utility expense management program.

Closing Thoughts on Dedicated Support for Utility Expense Management

It can almost seem old-fashioned nowadays to stress the importance of people within a technology-focused industry. But it’s worth a reminder from time to time that people still matter.  

The technology of artificial intelligence is front and center stage right now, and that’s fine, but other things like great dedicated support still matter, especially within the expense management industry.  

In your next discovery sessions with potential utility expense management partners, be sure to inquire about how they intend to staff their team and support your expense management program because highly skilled personnel – or the lack thereof – can make or break the quality of your overall program. 

If you’d like to consider Tellennium in your utility expense management vendor comparisons, contact us to schedule a brief demo of our solution.

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