2021 Inflation, Worker Shortage, Staff Augmentation

The pandemic wreaked major havoc within the marketplace and workforce. We will be counting and documenting all the effects – many of which are not yet on our radar – for years to come. The direct health and financial impacts were overwhelming and ominous. Other consequences such the worker shortage and supply-chain disruptions took time to reveal themselves as a myriad of various factors coalesced to create our present-day unstable economic environment. 

But there are also changes such as the rise in the cost of goods and services, which will affect our lives over the coming months and, potentially, years.  

How can AP, IT and telecom teams deal with these challenges moving forward?

Inflation & Technology Expense Management (TEM)

The ripple effects are too numerous to mention within this one blog, but one clear concern of the economic disruption brought about by the crisis is inflation.  

The crippling impact to supply chains, abrupt disruption of normal market conditions, and worker shortages has forced the increase in the cost of goods and services. Anyone in the restaurant industry or housing market will quickly attest to this. Although it’s true that not all industries were changed equally, it’s fair to say that most are negatively affected.  

This brings us to the telecom or technology expense management (TEM) space. While inflation has or is still occurring, it hasn’t yet increased the pricing of TEM solutions. Meaning that TEM solutions are increasing in their value to the enterprise in this “new normal.” 

Adjusting to our New Normal with TEM

The world of TEM has always been sort of a “wild west” type of industry. It’s been this way for numerous factors having to do with the volatility of the telecommunications industry, the unpredictability and constant change within the world of information technology (IT), and competitive market force drivers such as excessive mergers and acquisitions (M&A) activity that hold heavy sway over the industry.  

In addition, many consider the term “TEM” as having been diluted, overused, and misused by many telecom-related companies. Thus, creating some confusion in the marketplace for what actually is TEM. 

Let’s review areas of consideration for real TEM organizations and the potential increased value they can bring to an enterprise.

Enterprise Technology Expenses – Managing Costs

Enterprise technology management teams need to weigh various personnel considerations along with technological factors more carefully than ever given the economic pressures put on their organizations with the inflationary rise, resignations, and overall shortage of personnel.  

Outsourcing certain mundane tasks, routines, and processes that can be handled by an organization focused in those areas with better tools alleviates some of the personnel burden, often provides a digital transformation, and streamlines processes. Even more importantly, it allows the organization’s well-paid staff to focus on higher value items and projects. 

There are two distinct departments that are involved in the management of technology and related expenses:  Accounts Payable (AP) and IT/Telecom.  

Account Payable Processes: AP departments perform repetitive high-touch work. They receive invoices, perform coding allocations, make payments, reconcile, and archive. When it comes to technology related expenses such as telecommunications, there are a considerable number of invoices, circuits, devices, and charges that are constantly in a state of flux. AP personnel must involve the IT team to review, solve coding issues, and sign-off on the charges, often requiring the review of thousands of pages of invoices.  

Whenever automation and a transformation of these items into a digital process and database can be incorporated, valuable personnel time can be saved and quality-of-work/life improved, for both AP and IT. This is one of the main value propositions for outsourcing to a TEM organization. And now with worker shortages and inflation, the value of TEM is even greater. 

Technical Support Teams: The same can be said for technical support teams such as help desk teams that aid end users with mobility and/or other TEM, move, add, change (MACD) support requests.  

Many enterprises have decided to outsource the management of their mobile devices to a TEM provider for the reasons mentioned previously; automation and saving their personnel for more valuable items and projects. 

A good TEM provider will also be able to have expert staff available to augment an enterprise’s personnel in the event of a loss of workers. This staff availability helped many organizations through the pandemic as workers were furloughed or sick. And now due to the marketplace volatility, employees are leaving their jobs in record numbers so having someone to turn to quickly, who knows the organization, can be a lifesaver.

Conclusion

Because of inflationary pressures and the increased leverage that workers have gained from the recent COVID pandemic, the dynamics underlying the traditional relationship between management and labor is under extreme duress and transformation. 

This is a time of real transition and change but there are key steps to take to minimize the impact on your business and to set your company up for success over the long term. 

  1. Automate Your IT. Eliminate repetitive manual tasks. Many tasks can be automated with technology. Automation lessens a company’s dependence on employees while increasing productivity and efficiency. This is especially pertinent in technology expense management (TEM), finance, and IT. It’s key to save your best IT personnel for the most important human interaction touches and engagements.
  2. Outsource areas such as TEM. Outsourcing certain non-core functions can save an organization time, money, and headaches. It is also an easier path of scaling up and down. Key employees can then focus on higher-value tasks. Finding employees with expertise in niche areas is exponentially harder now. And more expensive.
  3. Outsourcing your telecom/mobility management is an excellent value example. At the very least, be prepared with partners who can immediately step in to assist or augment your current staff as needed because, based on the current run rate of resignations, it will be needed.
  4. Finally, Embrace remote work. For many employees, this is now a preferred way to work. It may require adjusting how you do things, but it could help you in multiple ways. Embracing remote work will not only help keep great employees, but it will also enable you to recruit new employees who now don’t need to move (e.g., recruit West Coast talent even if you are on the East Coast). It will also help to reduce office space costs. 

Businesses that leverage TEM outsourcing can project and lockin their costs for the next three years or longerThis will help them ride this cycle of inflation and mitigate the employee shortage crisis. 

To learn more about our TEM program at Tellennium, please schedule a brief demo of our solution. 

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