How to automate your telecom invoice process

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How to automate your telecom invoice process

Within the Telecom Expense Management (TEM) world, A.K.A Technology Expense Management these days, the processing of telecom invoicing is one of the key fundamental practices that a TEM provider can assist your team with.

When telecom invoice processing is performed well and in line with TEM best practices for this TEM service, it can save your company hundreds of thousands of dollars, perhaps even millions of dollars for large enterprises up front over the course of multiple years; you will be saving money and time by not incurring higher overhead costs due to waste and excessive fees resulting from poor invoice management practices.

In this article, we’ll focus on three key aspects of a TEM program that employ best practices with respect to invoice management.

Often, it’s the retroactive savings from audit or optimization exercises that get the most attention. But hopefully, this will help your organization reduce its financial exposure and need to recoup TEM savings in the first place.

3 Critical areas for telecom invoice process automation

1. Leverage strong electronic data interchange (EDI) practices

Naturally, the name of the game with respect to invoice processing is to reduce manual touches of paper for human beings. We want human oversight of the process and human involvement only when electronic automation is not available. 

At Tellennium, we push to get vendor billing information from EDI feeds, whether the carrier be domestic or international in nature. It’s so important that we encourage all customers to accept EDI feeds wherever possible and we’ll do so with no extra charges for our management. (Make sure any TEM provider you choose to partner with can address all your EDI questions to your satisfaction. This is a key area for management.)

The advantage of an EDI invoice is that invoice data is broken-out at the USOC component level, which facilitates greater transparency and understanding of charges. (EDI files deliver Level 9 – call detail; Level 8 = USOC/service code.)

This includes, for example, call details for per minute audit capacity as well as USOC component details that are extremely granular and useful for rate audits and inventory audits, both of which are incredibly important TEM areas for managing your TEM program well and helping to drive expense management savings.

A strong TEM program around electronic data automation and TEM best practices for invoice processing will proactively save your enterprise a great deal in avoided late-payment fees and/or disconnect charges for erroneously unpaid services.

And these are savings beyond reduction in headcount savings. Moreover, employee resources are hard to find these days due to the current worker shortage and therefore expensive.

Maximizing opportunities for EDI automation helps your organization save money and scale effectively simultaneously.

We also believe it is important to facilitate going paperless with telecom invoicing as green initiatives become more popular each year.

2. Leverage strong optical character recognition (OCR) technology

This is another major area to ensure your organization is progressive about leveraging the latest and greatest technology. At Tellennium, we employ customized and proprietary technologies around OCR to facilitate streamlined data import functionality. (There are different OCR technologies employed by different TEM vendors, just make sure you are comfortable with the approach of any TEM provider you choose to partner with.)

It’s this Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology that enables software to read, map, and present paper invoicing in the same manner and detail as electronic invoicing. And this is critically important because it allows more automated data processing.

It’s this type of data and invoice processing that permits data transparency and data management down to the service code and USOC level of billing detail, all of which directly supports other critical TEM managed services support areas relating to:

I. Cost Allocations

II. Contract Management

III. Inventory Management

IV. Policy Auditing

All noted services will cost your organization significantly more if processing manually. And it’s not simply the man hours that will be costly and painful, especially over the course of a year or two. The real pain will result from human mistakes made that will require fixing and retroactive wrangling with vendors over disputes.

When evaluating TEM providers, spend time asking questions around this area in detail. Your potential TEM partner will need to add genuine value for you and your TEM team in this area, otherwise keep looking.

3. Leverage strong robotic process automation (RPA) best practices

Today, you simply must automate to the greatest extent possible to be successful. Robotic process automation technology is certainly leveraged within the TEM industry.

The TEM industry utilizes Robotic Process Automation to drive savings, especially for larger enterprises with millions in annual communications network spend. At Tellennium, we leverage the RPA technology to facilitate the carrier import of data as well as downloads of data from telecom carrier portals.

To summarize, we employ the latest RPA technology to automate:

I. The downloading of electronic invoicing from carriers

II. The downloading of data usage files from carriers

III. The downloading of data relating to inventory from carrier websites

Automate, automate, automate wherever possible is the obvious but clear takeaway all competitive organizations should internalize these days.

It’s best to let computers excel at the tasks humans are not so great at and empower humans to focus on work that requires the ingenuity and creativity that humans are best suited to. It’s win-win-win for computers, employees, and management in terms of task alignment, organizational savings, and long-term scalability.

Conclusion

Because automation is so critical to Telecom Expense Management these days, we wanted to highlight important ways it helps in the extremely critical bedrock TEM activity of retrieving all pertinent data in the most efficient, accurate, and detailed manner possible.

It’s this very unglamorous area of TEM operations as relates to invoice processing that is often overlooked, yet so critical to a healthy TEM program. Be sure to keep these TEM items in mind when evaluating your next prospective TEM partner.

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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Rob Halik is a Senior Analyst at Tellennium, specializing in Managed Mobility Services, Telecom Expense Management, and Utility Bill Management. With over 25 years of industry experience, Rob provides enterprise expense management insights to help businesses optimize their operations and reduce costs. This article is a collaborative effort by our expert team members at Tellennium, including Greg McIntyre, Shawn Veitz, Matt McIntyre, and Todd Givens, who collectively bring over 100 years of industry experience.

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