Let’s face it, the topic of Telecom Expense Management (TEM), also known as Technology Expense Management is not exciting. And the sub-topic of information technology (IT) network inventory management seems even less appealing if that’s possible. However, modern day enterprises need to take IT inventory management seriously because it’s literally the bedrock of a sound expense management program and your business continuity.
Not knowing precisely what you have in your inventory leads to higher, unnecessary spending. If you are not clear on what you have and why, you cannot definitively determine if billing is accurate. More importantly, even if it’s accurate, does this service make sense now? And, if so, is it being offered at a competitive price relative to current market conditions? Both the audit and optimization exercises mentioned cannot deliver maximum value without a clean inventory.
To effectively perform all the other managed services within an effective enterprise expense management program, your inventory needs to be comprehensive and accurate. Many things are involved in a strong IT inventory management program but let’s focus on three very important areas that are critical to achieving a clean inventory and keeping it properly maintained. They are: (1) comprehensive detail, (2) service testing, and (3) service information updates.
1. Prioritize Comprehensive Network Inventory Management Details
Many TEM firms will take the easy way out so-to-speak when it comes to building-out an IT network inventory. For example, they will use basic information, which is often obtained mostly from billing invoice information. Details used usually include the service account number, the billing identification number, the billing address, the monthly recurring charge (MRC), and perhaps the universal service order code (USOC).
To include such information is a good start, but it’s not good enough. To gain real control and authority over your enterprise’s assets, you will want more information and due diligence performed with respect to the overall inventory and asset management process.
Verification of Details
At Tellennium, we believe in investing in the process of verifying all network service and asset detail as possible (e.g., PIC/LPIC, features). This is a step further than most TEM firms go because it involves more time and effort to go beyond surface level billing information.
For example, real time data will be reviewed in tandem with historical data for more precise analysis of the data; this is opposed to, say, reviewing one invoice – often a few months old – in a more cursory fashion, which is usually the case in many TEM reviews. More effort will also be devoted to verifying specific location detail to evaluate opportunities within services, as opposed to primarily focusing on largest spend areas which is another common expense management industry practice.
Finally, all analyses will be performed in a more coordinated way to evaluate the inventory through a bigger picture lens which does not simply focus on service rates or asset costs, but more thoughtfully considers service/asset purpose and optimization opportunities on a forward-looking horizon.
It will take more time in the near term to verify inventory details such as all physical location information, along with every account number, circuit, service line item, and other network asset and component detail. However, there will be far greater savings over the long term for the enterprise that leverages a TEM that invests in comprehensive work on the front-end IT network inventory build and analyses.
This means testing low use lines and evaluating up and down circuit speeds. What purpose are they serving? And does it make sense to keep these lines in service? It also means identifying and scrutinizing unusual network service use activities for fraud.
The network services should all also be tested for serviceability and relevancy in accordance with organizational needs.
This type of extremely detailed and granular review generally surprises management in terms of how much money is wasted on unused services, non-optimized services in use, and services exposed to fraud.
Moreover, this highly granular review of all service component detail allows for access to critical TSP codes so your enterprise can receive priority service restoration in the event of an emergency such as earthquakes, fires, or storms.
2. Services Testing & Network Audit & Optimization
Once you have complete and full visibility to all your services and IT network assets, the other critical component to a comprehensive and useful enterprise inventory involves testing. After the analyses involving service use, service needs, and fraud, the pertinent question is: For services needed and wanted, are they working properly? And for IT network services and IT network assets currently deployed, are they being utilized in the most effective and efficient manner, in other words fully optimized?
It’s at this point that the value of a comprehensive and accurate IT network inventory really makes itself clear. This is the basis upon which, for example, network audit and optimization analyses are performed. Extremely precise and detailed IT inventories at the physical location level also facilitate true contract rate validations, which are needed for Moves, Adds, Changes, and Delete (MACD) inventory changes and troubleshooting activity.
Organizations that have made the investment in doing a proper and highly detailed IT inventory set themselves up for high-value / high-return network audit and optimization work.
It’s this type of work that positions the organization up for proactive savings moving forward, which is where the material savings are found relative to TEM programs. Yes, retroactive audit findings are nice to get but it’s proactive and aggressive forward-looking IT network management that drives the real savings that enterprise expense management teams seek.
3. Inventory Updates
Once you feel good about your inventory relative to comprehensiveness and accuracy down to the most granular billing location details, your organization needs to turn its focus to real-time updating of all information as your IT inventory details change. This is easier said than done but, again, it’s worth the effort in terms of the dividends this will pay over the long term for the health of your overall expense management program.
When evaluating a potential TEM partner, take the time to inquire with them about their expense management technology platform and the operational practices they employ to ensure compliance with best practices relative to enterprise service and asset inventory management.
Key areas to be mindful of:
MACD Changes – Are all moves, adds, deletes, and changes recorded in an automated fashion and easily reported on by the technology platform / system?
New service installs and deletions – Are these automatically updated and easily reported on by your TEM technology platform?
Pricing Changes – Do changes in service pricing trigger a review of the activity and result in updating of the IT inventory?
The business of telecom expense management, also known as technology expense management (TEM) is complicated for sure. Enterprises today realize they almost certainly need a TEM partner to augment their internal TEM team to give themselves the best chance at achieving a strong and healthy enterprise expense management program.
The TEM technology platform (inventory management software) is very important. Does the technology meet all key requirements needed to maintain a comprehensive and accurate IT network inventory? Moreover, does your TEM partner employ current best practices relative to IT network inventory management?
In the end, these are key questions to ask and answer because the overall health of your IT network inventory depends upon a solid TEM platform and a very strong TEM partner. And the overall health of your enterprise expense management program will always build upon a comprehensive and accurate IT inventory. It’s the spine of your TEM program.
To learn more about how we go about our TEM program at Tellennium, please view our site.
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