Within the world of Telecom Expense Management (TEM), now also referred to as Technology Expense Management, there are four main areas that enterprise expense management teams need to focus on continually and in a forward-leaning manner.
These four areas fall under the umbrella commonly known as TEM Lifecycle Management, also known as Communications Lifecycle Management by others within the TEM industry.
This term represents an emphasis on a comprehensive, proactive, and ongoing approach to managing an enterprise’s communications network. This is a continual and never-ending discipline that should be considered alive and always evolving.
TEM is like taking a shower or exercising: You are not relieved of the good judgment to do this tomorrow because you did do this yesterday. To be most effective, it needs to be a lifestyle, not an anomaly. And hence the term lifecycle management.
To excel in TEM Lifecycle Management, it’s not a bad idea to consider to a TEM partner. By doing so,you can leverage their TEM platform and highly skilled subject matter expertise.
TEM Lifecycle Management – 4 Areas of Responsibility
1. Inventory Build
2. Invoice Management
3. Order Management
4. Contract Management
Let’s explore these important expense management areas and how optimizing management of these areas will help drive both communications network performance and cost savings.
TEM Lifecycle Management
1. Build Your Inventory
This is the foundation upon which all top-notch TEM programs are built. Why, might you ask? It’s simple: you cannot manage effectively that which you cannot measure accurately and in a timely manner.
A strong TEM program almost always means having a competent TEM partner these days. There are many reasons why this is the case but one big one involves the need for a strong TEM technology platform to house and report on all communications network data.
And a robust and trusted repository of all communications network data that is clean and transparent down to the most granular levels (e.g., USOC component) is one of the single most important capabilities that a competent TEM partner | TEM program provides.
A top tier TEM provider will place a premium on the importance of a meticulous and highly granular inventory build:
Verification of Service & Asset Details
Investing in the process of verifying all network service and asset detail (e.g., PIC/LPIC, features) is crucial.
This is a step that many TEM firms forgo because it involves more time and effort to go beyond surface level billing information alone. Many TEM firms will build their service inventories based upon billing information alone because it is easier and cheaper to do this way. However, this “quick and dirty” approach can result in incomplete inventories and therefore, missed savings.
As mentioned, this is an especially important functional area within a sound TEM program; you will want to flesh this out cleanly with a prospective TEM partner if you are presently evaluating bringing on a TEM partner for the first time or replacing an existing TEM partner you are dissatisfied with.
Services Testing & Network Audit & Optimization
Once you have complete visibility to all services and IT network assets, the other critical component involves testing. It is important to prioritize ongoing testing to ensure that all services are reviewed and optimized to the greatest extent possible for both function and cost.
For example, precise and detailed IT inventories at the physical location level help facilitate true contract rate validations, which are needed for Moves, Adds, Changes, and Delete (MACD) inventory changes and troubleshooting activity.
Network service and asset data are very organic in nature. This data should be treated as a living entity that requires constant attention and care to ensure accuracy.
Important items summary:
• MACD Changes: All moves, adds, deletes, and changes should be updated in as automated fashion as possible and easily reported on by the TEM technology platform.
• Service Installs & Deletions: These service activities should be automatically updated within your TEM system and be easily reported on for the benefit of your TEM team.
• Pricing Changes: TEM monitoring best practices should be employed by your TEM team and the TEM platform should automatically alert to pricing changes for strong and responsive inventory management.
2. Managing Invoicing
This is naturally an important day-to-day expense management activity. This core TEM functional area must be strong in executing the basics such as properly receiving invoicing, reviewing and validating invoicing, and making payments in a timely manner to avoid late fees.
This area tends to be problematic for larger enterprises with multiple locations across the United States or even the world.
Large volumes of telecom and utilities invoicing across a plethora of vendors can make Invoice Processing | Invoice Management very difficult, if not impossible without a strong TEM technology platform and highly experienced TEM team employing current TEM best practices.
Important items summary:
• Invoice Receipt: Enterprises need to leverage their TEM platform and operational best practices to ensure timely receipt of all invoices, especially if the enterprise has multiple locations and finds its invoicing decentralized across the United States or the world.
• Invoice Validation: Once invoices are received, TEM technology and TEM team best practices need to be employed to review and validate the invoicing in a timely manner. (Overpaying is too common so front-end screening needs to be strong, employing both systems automation and experienced subject matter experts.)
• Invoice Payment: Late-payments tend to be quite common for larger enterprises. This is especially the case for those not leveraging a strong TEM partner or those needing to replace an incompetent one.
3. Managing Orders
Order management is a key business process that is often not given proper attention by less skilled expense management teams and/or those not willing to invest in TEM technology. According to Gartner:
Much of the functionality attributed to order management is embedded within and touches components within the CRM, ERP and SCM markets as it guides products and services through order entry, processing and tracking.
In sum, it’s not enough that service data make it into your system effectively. Once within your TEM platform, the technology must be set and configured to facilitate efficient movement through important stages of processing and be pliable to highly transparent expense management reporting.
Important items summary:
• Order Entry: Data must enter the TEM platform accurately and efficiently.
• Order Processing: Orders must be processed effectively and in accordance with TEM best practices. (Ask any prospective TEM about their approach.)
• Order Tracking: All orders should be cleanly tracked and easily reported against with the TEM system.
4. Managing Contracts
Contract Management is an area where we often see internal TEM teams overlook the importance of this expense management area of responsibility, especially if they have not used a TEM partner in the past. Thinking about the ongoing management of contracts for all your TEM vendors is no small task, and failure to monitor these can result in missed savings opportunities.
For example, not switching to a comparable service of an existing service with a different carrier could result in losses of hundreds of thousands of dollars over, say, a 3-year contract term. And it can be this basic. Yes, moving incumbent vendors can be challenging but it often makes sense to do so, especially if taking a longer-term view of the entire expense management lifecycle.
This is as task that you will want professional assistance with. There is so much to consider relative to overall ongoing strategy and all corresponding tactics to secure the most competitive marketplace pricing available.
Important items summary:
• Contracts – Current State | Future State: Currently, how is your organization situated as relates to your existing vendors list? And how does this translate in terms of competitive marketplace pricing et cetera? What strategic and tactical considerations over the long term (18 months +) will influence go-forward decision-making?
• Vendor Benchmarking: When assessing current vs. future market conditions, you will want to be able to perform clean, apples-to-apples comparisons where possible between vendors. You will want to closely evaluate the pros and cons to all service offerings, as well as their respective price points and contractual implications over the long term. What makes the most sense?
• Vendor Contract Negotiations: Once you know what you want, you still need to interact with relevant stakeholders to execute your plan. And this means negotiating with all relevant vendors. This is no easy task so you will want professional services support from a competent TEM authority.
Lifecycle management is an important concept within the TEM industry. It is a paradigm of viewing TEM in an aggregated and 360-degree fashion that is alive and ceaselessly rolling forward.
This requires attentiveness to the four fundamental areas we focused on within this blog. It’s critical to build a robust and clean inventory, process invoices and service orders effectively, and manage vendor contracts strategically and tactically in an ongoing fashion.
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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