The use of telecom expense management (TEM) has become increasingly popular over the past two decades. Organizations are seeing time and time again that managing telecom expenses is a key driver in being able to save thousands of dollars each year. Even a single employee who is abusing telecom practices can cost an organization a substantial amount of money. With TEM, it becomes possible to pinpoint employee abuse of mobile services as well as to identify telecom billing errors.
For now, let's explore how TEM can be streamlined with other operational practices to decrease mobile expenses and enhance the overall productivity of operations. The tips outlined below are aimed at organizations that spend less than $500,00 a month on telecom expenses
Collect and Review Invoices
It may seem like a burdening task, but each telecom invoice needs to be collected and reviewed on a monthly basis. With TEM, you gain the advantage of having a centralized database for all invoices, making it incredibly simple to store and review the invoices as needed. Your accounts payable department can provide you with a list of each telecom vendor you partner with as well as the numbers that go along with each vendor account.
When reviewing invoices, you will want to make sure all the numbers match. If you come across a vendor account number yet do not see invoices for that specific vendor, you will know that you are missing pertinent invoice information. You will need to contact the vendor and ask for the last 12 invoices to be sent to you so that you can carefully review them for any errors.
Centralize All Collected Invoices
Depending on how large your organization is, as well as how many main offices you have, there is a good chance various vendors will not be sending all invoices to the same location. To keep the collection and reviewing of invoices as simple as possible, you want all of them to be stored in a centralized database. Ideally, this database will be a single TEM database.
To ensure all invoices are sent to the right location, you will need to contact the vendors on an individual basis and update the location you want the invoices sent to. Keep in mind that it can take up to six billing cycles for the invoices to make it to the requested location.
For each month that invoices are sent to the wrong location, you will need to contact the vendors on a repeated basis to remind them to update their system with the correct address.
Use Automated TEM
When TEM vendor information is sent via emails, this can be difficult to keep up with each invoice. You want the process to be automated, ideally by a TEM software that supports automation. For each invoice, you will want to check for the following:
- Is the account still valid?
- Have previous payments been made?
- Are there any charges that were not present on the prior month's invoice?
- Are there any sub-accounts that were not present on the prior month's invoice?
- Are all rates accurate?
Thankfully, there are TEM systems available that automatically validate each and every charge for you. By taking advantage of one of these systems, you no longer have to focus on invoice validation. Instead, you can focus your attention toward the resolution process for any discrepancies that are pinpointed by the TEM software.
Pay and Close Out Invoices
Your accounts payable department needs to receive a report from you on a weekly/monthly basis that outlines all payment and allocation information. It is best to generate and send them a report that can automatically be uploaded to the accounting system being used; this streamlines the TEM system with your accounting software and makes it simple to pay and close out invoices.
To officially 'close the loop' on each invoice, you will need to have the accounts payable department export and import a weekly/monthly file to the TEM system; this ensures there is a billing record that is archived in the TEM system, making it simple to review past payments and billing invoices. Any time a payment is in question, you can simply view information in the TEM system rather than having to call the vendor.
Choose the TEM System Wisely
Lastly, to enhance streamlining the TEM system with your overall operations, you must choose the system carefully and wisely. It will need to possess the capability to generate the following monthly reports:
- Spend by vendor
- Spend by account
- Spend by service type
- New accounts
- New services by vendor
When your TEM system can generate these reports, it makes it easy to review the reports and identify trends and anomalies.
Streamlining your TEM system with your overall business operations will help decrease non-essential expenses. You will be able to see where money is being spent that does not contribute to the profitability of the company. You can then cut these expenses and direct the saved monies toward practices and processes that boost productivity, lower your overhead expenses, and enhance the company's bottom line.
About the Author: Nancy Peckham
Nancy began her career in telecommunications in 1983 as an account executive with Republic Telecom, a regional long distance carrier. She was named district sales manager for the Wisconsin region in 1987 when Republic Telecom was acquired by Mid American Communications. She recognized a need for independent, objective telecommunications consulting which led her founding Valicom. Since its launch in 1991, Valicom has been a leader in providing telecom expense management solutions and serves enterprise and mid-market clients in a variety of industries and verticals across the U.S. Nancy earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, founded and served as president of the Telecommunications Professionals of Wisconsin (TPW) from 1989-1992, and was executive vice president on the board of directors of the Society of Telecommunications Consultants (STC). Nancy is also a founding member and executive council chair of the Independent Telecommunications Expense Management Association (i-TEM).