When speaking with buyers who are learning about telecom (and technology) expense management (TEM) for the first time, we often get a handful of questions. These questions may seem basic to those who have been involved in the world of TEM for some time, but they are foundational questions.
One question we often hear deals with TEM savings. In-house directors of finance or IT tend to be suspicious of third-party sources making claims of delivering TEM savings beyond what the existing internal network expense management team has produced to date. Naturally, they are skeptical, as it might seem too good to be true.
The question at hand is this: can a TEM provider perform better audits than an enterprise’s internal team alone? Who knows a company better than the internal team?
The short answer to this question is yes, a competent TEM provider will be able to deliver substantially more savings via audits than an in-house enterprise TEM team alone. There are several reasons for this that we will explain.
How a TEM Provider Delivers Results
TEM providers leverage a strong software as a service (SaaS) technology platform designed specifically for TEM purposes (e.g., automated invoice variance reviews are one aspect that generates TEM program momentum). This equips them with tools that most enterprises lack internally.
They also align experienced subject matter experts (SMEs) to key TEM areas and activities to perform the work in conjunction with the TEM SaaS platform (e.g., more complex tasks not amenable to automation will require SME support for resolution). They provide an area of expertise that most internal teams don’t have access to.
These factors are a powerful combination and why partnering with an experienced TEM partner will drive greater realized savings for not only audits but for all other TEM services as well.
Let’s review in more detail, a few reasons why your new TEM partner will be an invaluable asset to the entire TEM team in performing better audits for your organization and driving greater realized savings.
2 Big Reasons to Partner with a TEM Provider for Audits
1. Your TEM partner will leverage a state-of-the-art SaaS technology platform
It’s the information age and the age of big data. This means home-grown solutions developed 10 to 15 years ago are not adequate. Your organization may be surviving with this type of technology, but it won’t be enough these days.
The same holds for Excel spreadsheets and other more general office tools and applications. There’s nothing wrong with these tools but they won’t be enough in terms of TEM technology strength and configurability for larger modern-day enterprises.
A strong TEM platform manages large volumes of data without the system slowing or crashing. And most current TEM platforms are highly configurable, meaning they can bend to the specific needs of your organization and drill down into data at the most granular levels (e.g., Universal Service Order Code details).
TEM provider specialists can adjust the platform as per organizational requirements. After setup and implementation, the TEM SaaS platform employed to support your organization will be customized and unique to your organization. It will have your fingerprints all over it, which is what you want.
This enables large enterprises the ability to “have their cake and eat it too” so to speak. You’ll get a powerful TEM platform that’s integrated with your systems and tailored to your processes.
Of course, the TEM provider SME specialists will also be present to guide your internal team on TEM best practices. This is exactly where you want your TEM team to be concerning technology capabilities.
TEM SaaS Benefit Highlights
a) Visibility | Reporting:
Most TEM platforms deliver powerful dashboard reporting that is also easily customized for your organization. All such reporting can easily be automated for sending to appropriate audit team personnel via email or viewed within the application itself.
Moreover, premade reporting can be utilized out of the box or customized to your organization’s unique data visibility needs.
Naturally, this empowers all expense management teams from the audit team to the finance team; it’s important for all teams involved in TEM Lifecycle Management.
Examples – 4 Areas of TEM Reporting
1. Inventory Reporting Examples:
a. Moves, Adds, Changes, Deletions (MACD) activities
b. Service installs and deletions
c. Automated price change alerts
2. Invoice Management:
a. Invoice receipt activity
b. Invoice validation activity
c. Invoice overdue payments
3. Order Management:
a. Order entry activity
b. Orders processed activity
c. Orders tracked activity
4. Contract Management:
a. Current state | future contract information management
b. Vendor benchmarking data
b) Data Aggregation | Single System of Record:
This is a big one. It may seem simple but there are so many enterprises that suffer from decentralized data. Think of large corporations with hundreds of locations throughout the U.S. and even the world.
Enterprise companies will have disparate teams managing similar TEM tasks across multiple locations and – in certain cases – within different applications and systems. The TEM gods frown upon this and so should you. (What’s right? What’s wrong? What data needs updating?)
A single system of record for all data is critical. Nowadays, it’s a must-have. Anything short of one powerful system housing your data causes problems. And they are usually big ones that all translate to not having confidence in the integrity of your data.
Bottom line: If you can’t trust your data, you are nowhere, and this is especially true within the world of telecom/ technology expense management. Everything builds from this foundation so you must get it right to have a chance at making sound business decisions.
c) Enhanced Inventory Capabilities:
Some TEM platforms go the extra mile to ensure that the platform is designed to purposely handle all service and asset data relative to building out your inventory, which facilitates strong audit work for both audits and cost savings – optimization analyses.
This is an often-overlooked area, but extremely important. At Tellennium, we are firm believers in the importance of maintaining an accurate and meticulous inventory so we can’t harp on this enough.
When you interview prospective TEM partners, inquire in detail about their inventory management capabilities concerning their TEM platform. This is an often-overlooked TEM area, but its importance cannot be overstated.
2. Your TEM partner will leverage top-notch industry subject-matter-experts on their team
We have dedicated significant attention in this article to the importance of the TEM SaaS platform because it’s the bedrock to a strong TEM program and receives plenty of questions from prospective TEM customers.
Most larger enterprises with a complex array of vendors and services will also need managed services support from their TEM provider. This is because you will need highly skilled TEM subject-matter experts to properly leverage the powerful TEM platform. They will possess the highly specialized knowledge to support all core TEM services.
They will be able to execute powerfully around key performance metrics for fully managed services such as:
1. Missing invoice review and retrieval support
2. Payment reconciliation exercises
3. Network Audit and Optimization analyses
4. Inventory maintenance and dispute management support
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