The quality of your inventory is one of the most important aspects of a TEM program. This is so because – when done properly – it will serve as your primary/central data repository for all your organization’s IT assets, network expenses, subscription services, and equipment. It’s the bedrock for a TEM program that lives and breathes on data.
All data, of course, will reside within the TEM technology platform of your TEM provider. And powerful system dashboarding and report capabilities will naturally provide the desired transparency for enterprise expense management teams to make timely and effective management decisions.
A few key “must haves” are key to supporting a top-notch or “A-grade” inventory:
- TEM Data: Comprehensive, accurate, and highly granular data.
- TEM Platform: A powerful and highly configurable application that can house large amounts of detailed data parsed in a wide range of ways.
- TEM Platform Usability: The best TEM platforms will be extremely powerful in terms of processing data, but they also need to be highly user-friendly, allowing for easy dashboarding and reporting capabilities to facilitate transparency and decision-making.
A-Grade Inventory vs. B-Grade Inventories
The degree to which TEM providers provide an A-inventory will vary. It will depend on their TEM mindset and approach to inventory, the quality of their TEM platform, and the capabilities of their expense management team.
It will also depend upon the appetite of the customer for a great A-grade inventory, which is based on the most comprehensive data available from various sources (detailed below) versus an okay or B-grade inventory. (A baser or B-grade inventory is built primarily from invoices or more surface-level data.)
For example, many TEM providers will want to charge more to TEM customers to build an A-grade inventory utilizing customer service records and other more granular detail beyond basic invoice data. (Many TEM customers are not knowledgeable enough to know how important this TEM area is and will therefore be lulled into thinking that the easier/cheaper option is best.)
A-grade inventories are more accurate and comprehensive. This quality of inventory will dig into deeper details with respect to all your organizational data. For example, TEM providers that focus on building A-grade inventories for their clients will work harder to build it right and keep it right than many TEM providers that choose to take the easier and less expensive route (e.g., inventories built primarily on invoice details).
Excellent data drives superior TEM results, whereas mediocre data allows for subpar TEM performance.
Let’s look at how TEM inventories can differ before looking deeper into what an A-grade inventory looks like in more breadth.
4 Common TEM Inventory Build Examples
1. B-grade basic TEM inventory, example 1
There are TEM providers that will simply account for, say, the number of invoices, vendors, and GL codes within scope. It will be much easier, quicker, and less expensive to produce this type of inventory, which explains why it is common if not ideal.
2. B-grade basic TEM inventory, example 2
Other TEM providers will focus mainly on charges derived from invoicing, not including the details behind each charge on the invoice. Again, this will be much easier, quicker, and less expensive to produce this type of inventory, which explains why it is also common and just as lacking in our view.
3. B-grade basic TEM inventory, example 3
This type of inventory will be a type of amalgamation of the two inferior inventory examples noted above. This can be better than either example 1 or 2 alone, but it’s still not where it needs to be. This is still a subpar inventory and it will not generate optimum TEM program results.
4. A-grade TEM inventory example
This is the type of inventory that you want for your TEM program. It will require more effort to create, but it’s worth it. We feel this way at Tellennium and build our inventories to this standard for all our customers.
This type of inventory build seeks all relevant/pertinent communications network data for all your organization’s network expenses, subscription services, IT assets, and equipment. It does so down to the most granular level of detail possible.
This means leveraging all carrier service detail available. For example, customer service records (CSRs), carrier online inventory, supplemental data reports, and carrier service guide details are also used in conjunction with billing/invoice data.
A-Grade TEM Inventory is Key
We believe it is extremely important to be as comprehensive and accurate as possible when first building the inventory, then subsequently maintaining it.
To build this type of inventory, we obtain the initial set of invoices, and letters of authorization (LOAs) permitting information access and establish online portal access with all relevant vendors. This data acquisition process is focused and thorough and purposely so to minimize future TEM issues. (Like dad used to say, “do it right the first time.”)
At Tellennium, our TEM platform is designed to flag our TEM team when new services are added to an existing account or represent a newly established account, which is one example of keenly attending to all incoming data details to ensure the overall integrity and sustainability of your TEM inventory in the future.
A-Grade TEM Inventory Highlights
An A-grade inventory will identify all services (local, long distance, WAN, etc.), all service types (analog line, trunk line, PRI, etc.), features/details (call forwarding, phone line features, hunt group info, circuit IDs, etc.), and physical addresses.
For traditional local services, our team will call and test each line on every account. This will reveal a few things:
- Does the line work properly?
- Does it belong to the customer?
- Is it being utilized?
A-grade inventories will process voice circuits, checking usage by obtaining utilization reports and/or traffic studies to review utilization rates. Wireless services and devices are also inventoried and managed in the same manner.
For data services, we gather inventory in the same way, by identifying the service types (e.g., Internet, PnP, MPLS, etc.) and all applicable details (e.g., circuit IDs, speeds, types, etc.).
We then test each circuit to ensure it is connected as well as review each circuit’s traffic utilization.
Strong TEM inventory management is extremely important to a healthy and sustainable TEM program. This is not an area that you want to skimp on and therefore why we only build A-grade inventory for all our customers.
We’ll continue to expand on the importance of inventory in future articles. For now, the takeaway is hopefully clear: There’s only one type of inventory build that you want for your expense management organization and it is A-grade – comprehensive, clean, and as detailed as possible.
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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