Many enterprise expense leaders go through the discovery process to evaluate potential managed mobility services (MMS) providers, a great many of which are also known as telecom/technology expense management (TEM) providers will find themselves frustrated. Why?
Simply put it can be very confusing, especially within the world of enterprise expense management where there is no shortage of acronyms that prioritize focus on one area of expense management over another, yet support needs significantly overlap in many cases.
This is certainly the case when comparing MMS to TEM.
We will consider MMS as a service but let’s start with TEM since it is the older of the two expense management services. It’s the foundational expense management service so-to-speak.
Understanding this helps to inform understanding of all other expense management service offerings, especially MMS since they are closely related.
Telecom Expense Management
This is the big one, this is the granddaddy of them all. This term originated in the 1990s and is the umbrella term for managing all an enterprise’s telecommunications network services operational expenses. The industry focus was originally on managing telecommunications carrier services and their expenses, hence the acronym TEM.
As time went on and technological changes advanced rapidly (e.g., mobility services, cloud services), the need to manage related vendor information technology services, along with other enterprise vendor services such as utilities and waste management also became apparent.
The enterprise expense management industry felt compelled to evolve. It understandably sought to avoid being boxed into a telecommunications corner alone; the enterprise expense management industry wanted to avail itself of all the new business opportunities and therefore has attempted a rebrand to technology expense management, which occurred circa the early 2000s.
This newer term can simply be considered telecom expense management or TEM 2.0. It’s the newer name for the TEM industry that can now effectively manage more enterprise technologies and their associated expenses.
If we use the Russian doll analogy, this is the biggest doll in the expense management doll set. Many of the other related expense management terms/acronyms that besiege the industry all roll up under this TEM doll or another smaller TEM doll within the family tree.
In its simplest form, TEM is all about effectively managing an enterprise’s telecom, IT, and other common vendor services, assets, and associated expenses.
The TEM term is the broadest in scope; the MMS term is concerned with the same basic goal, just with a smaller, more narrowly defined scope around service and expense management for mobile devices.
It represents the next size-down doll so-to-speak relative to the hierarchy of expense management dolls. (We will not go into all the other expense management “dolls” now; we will explore that in another article.)
Managed Mobility Services
As noted, MMS has a narrower scope than, say, TEM because it is focused on mobile device operational and expense management support (e.g., fixed and other services are out of scope). Otherwise, it has the same basic concerns as traditional TEM: Are we effectively managing our mobile service operational needs at competitive costs?
MMS takes a comprehensive approach to managing an organization’s mobile universe. MMS is holistic – just like TEM – and mobility support is designed to support the full mobility lifecycle.
MMS concerns itself with managing all aspects of an enterprise’s mobility activities, including wireless audit and optimization, dispute management, invoice management, mobile help desk support, inventory, and data management.
This is in addition to managing devices, security, applications, and all associated mobile expenses; this can be thought of as the biggest mobility doll and second largest overall expense management doll, only eclipsed by TEM.
MMS & TEM Providers – Full Suite of Expense Management
It’s important to reiterate that most MMS providers are also TEM providers. Or, said another way, most TEM providers also offer MMS. As time went on and enterprise mobility needs increased, TEM providers realized they needed to offer the same type of operational and expense management support for enterprise mobile devices.
Many expense management providers such as Tellennium will emphasize a comprehensive managed mobility services approach i.e., like TEM, whereas some mobility companies will focus solely on, say, MDM support i.e., a smaller mobility doll under MMS and a conversation for a different day.
In your expense management discovery process, have your prospective MMS and/or TEM partner detail how they will address your mobility management needs for mobile phone services.
5 Standard MMS & TEM Program Service Areas
Here’s a high-level overview of key areas that expense management concerns itself with that your organization has real needs for, regardless of whether the focus is simply around mobile devices (MMS) or the broader definition of TEM, which includes many other non-mobile services.
1. Invoice management done well helps contain costs
Organizations need to receive, process, and review all invoices efficiently and ensure they are being billed accurately and paid on time.
A strong TEM provider will work to leverage leading-edge technology (e.g., their technology platform) and industry best practices to fully automate and optimize the process (e.g., EDI feeds, automated workflows, variance review flags).
When done well, invoice management is a low-profile area that adds real value to an organization; its value is more subtle in that it saves time, energy, and money for the organization via what it avoids doing, i.e., making unnecessary errors and using poor processes. Unwanted late payment fees and service disconnects are avoided through strong process management.
- Single cloud-based technology platform built to handle all wireless data management needs.
- Financial reporting options are available through the technology platform per customer requirements for wireless data.
- Cost allocation files are produced, and payments are made on behalf of the enterprise customer.
- Invoice receipt of different formatted invoices i.e., paper, electronic, web, and PDF processed on behalf of the customer.
2. Audit and optimization analyses help police vendor billing and seek savings opportunities
These two expense management areas get a lion’s share of the attention in TEM conversations, especially from those newer to the expense management game. And this makes sense because it’s much easier for people to understand how these services can help them in a more immediate way.
Audits are naturally needed to enforce billing compliance and are more reactive in nature, whereas optimization analyses seek to determine how operational and service selections can save money more proactively, via shrewd expense management choices.
These two areas are focused on finding savings – reactively or proactively – and they are popular for this reason.
- Purpose Review – Does the device, service, or feature have a purpose and is it being utilized?
- Rate compliance – Are mobile services being billed at the proper rates (whether a good one or not)?
- Optimization Review– Is there a better rate or pool plan, better option, or better feature?
- Platform Rate Database – Many MMS/TEM providers such as Tellennium will also utilize a rate database – included within the platform – to leverage system-generated audits to help identify billing discrepancies and benchmark rates for optimization purposes.
3. Vendor contract and dispute management help expedite results for your organization
It’s one thing to identify billing errors that need to be disputed with a vendor. It’s entirely another to work with the vendor in the most effective way to drive results and realize savings in a timely manner.
This is where a strong TEM provider’s expertise and value shine; they will possess the industry knowledge and experience to know best how to win billing disputes and rapidly secure rightful savings.
They will also be able to employ their experience and skill to swiftly maneuver amongst vendor relationships to facilitate excellent communication and effective implementation of optimization decisions.
- Managed service to audit, file, and track all wireless billing disputes.
- Managed service to work all disputes and follow-up to issue resolution with all providers.
- Complete real-time dispute tracking generated via platform dashboards and reporting.
- Realized savings credits monitoring to ensure accurate credit applications to corresponding accounts.
4. Inventory management is the foundation of all strong expense management programs
This is the bedrock of all top TEM and MMS programs if done well. You need a comprehensive and accurate data inventory to make sound expense management choices. The MMS/TEM programs with the best data will position themselves most for success.
Not all inventories built and maintained by MMS/TEM providers are created equal, so you will want to pay special attention to this in your vendor discovery process when evaluating MMS/TEM providers.
- A comprehensive inventory approach is important to ensure all services are working properly, owned by the company, and effectively utilized.
- Unified wireless reporting available for insight into all enterprise services and assets.
- Relational database capabilities allow for cross-functional data reconciliation between the inventory and invoicing.
- Bulk system update capabilities allow for expedited updates through flat files, API, Excel docs, et cetera.
5. Help desk support from highly skilled subject-matter experts make a big difference
When users experience issues or have questions regarding their company communications services, they will often need dedicated support from a highly competent technical team – that is preferably domestically based – and that can resolve issues quickly.
This type of service is another fundamental support area within the world of expense management.
Each provider will have its own approach but keep a few of the items below in mind during your discovery process.
- Help desk support via several options such as 12×5 or 24×7. Which best fits your company?
- Most providers will offer different tier support offerings i.e., 1, 2, 3. Again, best fit?
- Service level agreement turnaround times are important to keep in mind for service requests. You will want to discuss this in detail during your MMS /TEM provider discovery process.
- Where do the support staff reside? We believe domestic support is best for a variety of reasons having to do with communication issues, time-zone challenges, et
MMS & TEM Closing Thoughts
In addressing the central question of how to best evaluate managed mobility service providers, most of which are also considered TEMs, the key takeaway is that you keep top-of-mind a few things as relates to the acronyms MMS and TEM.
It’s all enterprise expense management and driving towards the same goal: effective operational and expense management for the services provided by your organization’s telecom carriers and other service vendors.
The particulars involving the services may change, i.e., mobility services vs. fixed services, but the universal needs of effective operational and expense management are the same.
So, speak to your prospective MMS and/or TEM service providers plainly and make sure they can do the same with you regarding how they will support your mobile expense management needs even though they may fall under the general category of telecom/technology expense management provider. (Again, many will.)
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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