Not having the right level of expense support could cost your organization hundreds of thousands of dollars, even millions of dollars in many cases over multiple years for larger enterprises. It’s an important area for consideration for network operations teams and worthy of some focus in this blog.
The term telecom expense management (TEM) has been around for some time. Some of the older TEM firms such as MBG and Profit Line started in the early 1990s, while many other well-known TEMs such as Tangoe, Asentinel, Avotus, and Rivermine started circa 2000. Tellennium also started around the same timeframe, 1999 to be precise.
The industry has matured, and the acronym TEM can now also be considered to represent technology more broadly as opposed to just telecom. Hence, the modern-day acronym TEM can also be thought to represent “technology expense management.”
At Tellennium, we have progressively evolved to embrace this much wider understanding of enterprise expense management, which includes a more comprehensive and all-inclusive approach to the management of all communications network services, expenses, and assets.
This wider-net expense management mindset and methodology is where the industry needs to be now even if it lacked the technology and raw “know how” in its earlier days. At Tellennium, we refer to this as the Management of Things.
Let’s look at some key ideas or things you should know about the world of telecom expense management – or also known today as technology expense management – and the three different levels of service available for enterprises today.
You will want to be cognizant of these three levels of service because they should be top-of-mind when evaluating your current TEM provider or choosing amongst multiple TEM vendors in your TEM vetting and discovery process.
Today’s modern-day enterprise technology arena includes a myriad of expense management challenges. There is a never-ending stream of communications network minutiae to be managed, so giving the appropriate level of thought to the right services needed for your organization in today’s complex enterprise corporate environment is more important than ever.
3 Levels of TEM Provider Support
1. Host and Load: Customer-Driven TEM
Some enterprise organizations have invested more in internal expense management infrastructure relative to process development, embracing a best practices TEM approach, and bringing in highly experienced subject-matter-experts to support their enterprise expense management efforts.
For these organizations, it still makes good sense to partner with a TEM provider, even if only to receive baseline TEM support; the TEM provider can ply its expertise to the task of (1) providing a modern-day TEM technology platform and (2) supporting best practices around the key TEM function of receiving invoicing.
Given the constant changes that are never-ending within the TEM industry, and the rapid acceleration of technological advances, enterprise organizations realize significant benefit from even this baseline of TEM support.
Put plainly: Homegrown TEM technology solutions will not be up to the task of properly supporting enterprise TEM data-management needs. Moreover, the key expense management task of loading invoice data simply cannot be performed at the same level of expertise that a highly competent TEM can. There are just too many challenges that service providers present with in terms of the myriad of different invoicing formats and billing platforms utilized; expert 3rd Party TEM support is needed.
For these enterprise organization’s that feel they have brought in the requisite layers of internal subject-matter-expertise and have otherwise invested in an adequate TEM infrastructure, managing other day-to-day operational imperatives such as: building inventory, sorting through and processing missing invoices, performing financial cost allocations, and performing thorough audit and optimization analyses will be the responsibility of the internal TEM team.
2. Fully Managed TEM Service
The next step up so-to-speak in the spectrum of TEM provider support would be the fully managed TEM service. This level of support is very popular with many internal enterprise expense management teams that are self-aware enough to know that they do need outside TEM expertise and support and that the Host and Load option won’t suffice.
This option simply offers more layers of support around the internal network operations and expense management team. and It is highly recommended beyond the entry-level host and load package if network operational budgets permit.
The TEM provider will shoulder responsibilities for driving optimal operational best practices and realizing the most network savings possible. Key TEM functions such as: invoice processing, processing missing invoices, performing financial cost allocations, performing rigorous audit and optimization analyses, and driving the management of the dispute management process to realize maximum savings with all service providers and carriers.
This level of service is very common for enterprises today because it addresses the real need for a modern-day TEM technology platform along with the requisite investment in TEM 3rd party subject-matter-expertise. There is no question that if enterprise operational budgets permit, the investment in this additional level of TEM support will be cost-justified for the enterprise and return on investment will be positive.
3. Full Suite Managed TEM Service – Plus / More
This is what we recommend at Tellennium if the customer situation is right and network operational budgets permit. In this model, the internal enterprise expense management team is provided the highest level of support possible from its TEM provider/partner.
The internal expense management team can be focused on its highest value activities and management priorities, most notable simply monitoring and facilitating the best communications between the TEM provider – which is essentially performing all operational and expense management work – with the internal TEM senior management team.
This TEM package promises the enterprise the best investment in day-to-day network operational best practices and modern-day TEM platform technology, while also investing in forward-leaning TEM support and subject-matter-expertise. This guarantees the enterprise its best hope for effective TEM lifecycle management in the aggregate and over the long term.
This option provides premium-level support for all key areas of the modern-day enterprise TEM domain. All “block and tackle” day-to-day support functions are supported by the TEM provider and critical TEM focus areas such as inventory are built and maintained by the TEM provider, ensuring that this is done right (e.g., inventory not simply built from billing data); all moves, adds, changes, deletes (MACD) activity is monitored and tracked in keeping with current industry TEM best practices.
Moreover, high-value and forward-leaning professional consultative services are also provided to ensure proactive and ongoing management of the full TEM lifecycle for the organization. These TEM services include RFP management and contract negotiation support, along with out-on-the-horizon network design considerations, which secure “out-front” savings by intelligent design and consideration of all network-operational TEM best practices.
Like most things in life, there is no one size that fits all. This is also true for the world of TEM. When evaluating how best to partner with a TEM provider, senior management teams need to be honest about where they are in terms of their organizational investment in TEM technology and best practices. How big is our internal team? How strong is our internal team? What is our network operational and expense management budget? What TEM platform are we currently using, if any?
The one thing we are certain of is that partnering with a TEM is almost certainly a wise decision for enterprises in today’s complex and ever-changing world. Taking some time to honestly assess your organization’s present state will put you in the best position to make the right decisions relative to your organization’s optimal future state.
To learn more about our TEM program at Tellennium, please schedule a brief demo of our solution.
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