Utility Expense Management Part 1
Mastering Utility Expense Management: Why It’s the New TEM

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Utility Expense_Management pt1 - Mastering Utility Expense Management Why It’s the New TEM

If you are an expense management leader within a larger enterprise and have grown accustomed to the modern-day challenges of telecom/technology expense management, then this article will resonate with you. 

We’ll cover eight reasons why utility expense management – also commonly referred to as utility bill management – requires the same type of approach that you have taken to manage all your telecom expense management (TEM) operations and associated expenses. 

There’s a great deal going on with utility expenses that require constant and ongoing management – very much like TEM – to ensure that your organization has the right services at the right rates.  

It’s imperative that this is managed vigilantly and proactively to ensure that expenses do not balloon out of control, which can easily occur if not actively engaged with a strong expense management process. 

So, let’s look at some of the areas a reputable utility expense management provider – some of which also manage TEM/MMS services such as Tellennium – can lend support to ensure your organization maintains strong operational control over all utility services and associated costs.

8 Ways Utility Expense Management Helps Your Team Save Time & Money

1. Technology platform facilitates best practices for data management

Like TEM, to manage utilities well, you will need a robust technology platform that will help effectively and efficiently manage all your organization’s utility data. The old ways won’t work i.e., Excel spreadsheets, Access databases, homegrown solutions, or outdated enterprise platforms not properly configured to handle utility data in bulk. Bad data will always translate to poor expense management results. So, getting good data is foundational to successful utility expense management (as it is for any expense management program, be it telecom expense management, mobile expense management, etc.). Shoring up this technology need alleviates the need for multiple system involvement and eliminates manual processes while reducing any need for multiple audit vendors. And all these things reduce any likelihood of budget overruns. A strong technology platform with robust data housing, configuration, and reporting capabilities will also provide your management team with powerful visibility into all utility vendor invoicing services and charges. These system dashboard analytics and reporting capabilities empower strong real-time utility expense management.

2. Centralized invoice tracking and collection processes built for long-term program sustainability

Whether telecom-based or utility-based, invoices need to be processed accurately and in a timely manner.  As part of this process, the following areas add value to the utility invoice management process:

Tight invoice tracking: Knowing exactly where each invoice is within the utility expense management process is needed for ongoing and sustainable utility lifecycle management.

For example, electric, gas, water, and waste management vendor invoicing all need to be tracked closely and tightly. This process is informed by expense management best practices for efficient and accurate invoice processing and payments.

That which is measured and monitored closely can be managed well and therefore accurate tracking capabilities are important.

Invoice process automation: In our present era of digital transformation, automation will always be an important area to embrace, and it’s no different here.  Your utility expense management provider will provide support for common tasks such as OCR scanning, EDI vendor data imports, or any needed paper invoicing data transitioning into the system for invoice processing.

When support is delivered correctly by a competent utility expense management provider, efficiencies are derived that reduce manual labor costs and reduce processing errors.

Invoice charge monitoring, alerts, and validation: The technology platform employed by your utility expense management provider can pre-configure alerts that respond to certain instructions relating to due dates, charge variances, features, etc.  

 This type of functionality acts as the first step in the audit process and helps to reduce costly processing errors for your organization. 

3. Accounts payable process management is streamlined

It’s important for modern-day enterprises to integrate with partner systems i.e., enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems to facilitate the updating of pertinent information relating to the AP process.

A utility expense management partner will be able to help support such integrations and thereby facilitate more expedited updating of cost allocations across business units. This will also reduce manual processing errors and drive more automation within the process. 

4. Audit and optimization best practices strengthened with AI technology

Most of the same challenges that exist for traditional TEM and/or managed mobility services (MMS) services also exist here. So, the same automation practices and artificial intelligence capabilities need to be employed to ensure that the organization is paying the correct amounts for its contracted services.  

Moreover, optimization analyses will need to be performed in a proactive fashion to see if savings opportunities can be developed going forward relative to vendor management, services used, plans employed, etc. 

A strong utility expense management partner that does a good job in this regard will provide strong data visibility, and vendor performance monitoring, and will assure your organization that it is doing all things to ensure the right services at the right cost in an ongoing fashion. 

Just like TEM or MMS, utility bill management teams need to verify that utility invoices are accurate. But this is not enough.  

They must also seek ways to creatively optimize vendor selection, services selection, and plan selections in a forward-leaning fashion to provide the organization with the right services at the most competitive costs.

5. Dispute management practices built for long-term vendor management sustainability

When billing errors are identified, close work between your utility expense management provider and applicable vendors will need to be performed to realize savings for your organization. 

A strong utility expense management provider will assist your team by deploying best practices around key areas such as dispute tracking and workflow management, facilitating inter-company communications & collaboration, as well as providing all relevant reporting and analytics around this key utility management area. 

6. Utility procurement support facilitates long-term program sustainability

All the concerns that are associated with typical TEM or MMS are relevant here as well. Vendors need to be evaluated on capabilities and costs.  

This could mean an informal process of reaching out to multiple vendors or involve a more formal RFP process, which entails a great deal of support to complete all vendor comparisons in a highly thorough manner. 

Many utility expense management providers will offer this type of support, and it’s worth it for most organizations, provided, of course, that the provider you are working with is competent and reputable. 

7. Invoice payment and bill aggregation practices minimize common payment issues

We often like to call attention to the importance of strong centralized management in TEM, and it’s the same for utility bill management. Decentralization usually results in chaos and diffused responsibilities that usually translate to poor expense management results.  

So, the management of utility invoicing in a manner that allows for centralized management control and bill aggregation will empower your team. 

Your utility bill management provider will leverage their technology platform and all its capabilities to maximize control over this area and drive desired performance in this area for your team. 

8. Dedicated support teams focus resources on problematic issues for quick and effective resolution

Strong, accessible technical support will be needed, especially for larger enterprises that have relationships with many vendors and use various services across different vendor platforms.  

A reputable expense management provider will offer support packages so inquire in detail about them to assess what is best for your organization when interviewing prospective vendors.  

Don’t make the mistake of undervaluing strong technical support. It’s one of the most important value-add services that an expense management provider can provide. 

Closing Thoughts for Utility Expense Management

Just like telecom/technology expense management or mobile expense management, utility expense management is an area fraught with trouble if your organization is not partnered with a reputable expense management provider to lend a hand. 

Competent 3rd party support for utility expense management will help your organization better manage costs, monitor billing, evaluate savings opportunities, proactively manage utility vendors, monitor regulatory requirements, and provide overall management support to drive operational efficiencies and reach financial program objectives. 

If you’d like to consider Tellennium in utility vendor comparisons, contact us to schedule a brief demo of our solution.

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