Monthly Archives: April 2011
If you’re not sick of it yet, we continue in our overview of telecom expense management tasks that can be streamlined with a good TEM software, we’ve covered inventory management, cost allocation, telecom contracts and telecom invoice management. Another challenging thing to keep track of is….
Change & Order Management
Telecom expense management software has to have a robust tracking mechanism for changes, as personnel get hired or fired, devices get retired and replaced, and buildings open and close. Lucky for you, we thought of that. The platform has various places that changes can be recorded, from ordering new handsets, to canceling lines or data plans. This ensures you have an accurate historical record for everything you own, allowing proper record-keeping and reporting.
In our ongoing discussion of telecom expense management tasks that can be streamlined with a good TEM software, we’ve talked about inventory management, cost allocation and telecom contracts. Next we hit one of the biggies…..
Invoice Processing & Payment
Speaking of document management, one of the biggest pain points of telecom has got to be invoices. Little missiles of irritation that arrive in the mail to ruin your day. Sometimes by the boxful. And you know you should really look at all of those – line by line, every single month – to make sure they are accurate. But really, who has the time?
So you’re left with two challenges. Can I minimize this mountain of paper? And is there a faster way to review these to see if we have problems? You’ll be happy to know the answer to both is YES.
Invoice data can get in the software two ways – electronically via import, or manually. And this is where you might want to outsource some invoice processing work to a partner like Valicom. Invoices can be shipped directly to us, and we will scan and enter all the information into the system. The invoices will be available for viewing as a PDF at any time, and all the payment data will be attributed to the proper inventory items and cost centers. Then comes the fun part of audit and approval.
Which brings us to our second trick – automating the invoice review process. The software has a built-in variance tool. Most invoices should be the same, month in and month out, so when they aren’t, you know something has changed. Perhaps you were anticipating that, but perhaps not. Either way, if it is flagged for you, then you know to look. The system can also check for certain types of charges that are often tacked on by mistake, like installation fees and taxes. This can save you a lot of time, as you can choose to only look at items that need attention.
And once the invoice review is done, and they are tagged for approval, the software can generate a feed to your Accounting system with all the details. Then they can cut the checks there, or your vendor partner can cut the checks, pay the bills, and just send the feed to Accounting so they know it’s done!
Stay tuned for the next task list – Change Management.
As we’ve been discussing ways to make your life easier and save you time, document management comes to mind. In the modern era, no one wants a file cabinet stuffed full of papers hulking in the corner of their office. And they certainly don’t want to have to dig through it to find contract information. A contract should be electronic, easy to find, and cross-referenced with the items it pertains to. How else are you going to verify your inventory items are actually being billed at the rate you agreed to pay? And what if you need to check when a certain asset falls out of contract, or if it is still under warranty? Again, let the software make that simple. Scan, upload, attach. You’re done. Go back on break.
Another telecom management task that will conjure up memories of your Mother, or maybe your Father, is the age old question – “Who is going to pay for this thing?” Now that you know what you have, your CFO probably wants to know who is responsible for each particular business expense. Those Accountants, always so picky. But that is what you pay bean counters to do - count beans. And sometimes they even want the beans split into pieces! It is not uncommon to have one inventory item being paid for by multiple departments.
A good telecom expense management platform can make that easy. Just add in your Cost Centers, to whatever level of granular detail you need, then start allocating items. Sales, Operations, Marketing, Warehousing, whatever. If it has stuff, and it is supposed to pay for that stuff, let the software keep track of it for you. Then when you go to pay bills, or run reports (we’ll get to both of those later), it will all come out neatly on the back end. And you can go on break.
And as soon as I’m back from break, I’ll post the next task you can manage – Telecom Contracts. Stay tuned…..
Being a certified woman-owned business (WBE) Valicom offered some words of wisdom on “Managing Your Telecom Expenses: The Best Money You Never Spent” to the readers of Diversity Business magazine. Covering the complexities and costs of telecom, it offers concrete steps to getting a grip on expenses.
Good reminder to go green and recycle your cell phones – Wisconsin E-recycling law sees great success in first year
Sometimes it doesn’t hurt to remind ourselves that the fancy technology we are surrounded by doesn’t just dissipate at the end of its lifecycle. It has to go *somewhere* and it is greatly preferable that the somewhere be a recycling center than a landfill. So with Earth Day coming up this weekend, the continued success of Wisconsin’s e-cycling law is a welcome bit of news. If your state doesn’t offer convenient e-cycling, a quick Google search will turn up a number of organizations that can help you setup a good cell phone recycling program.
MILWAUKEE — A new report, compiled by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, shows significant progress in electronics waste recycling is being made across the state thanks to the new e-waste law that took effect last year.
According to the E-Cycle Wisconsin 2010 report, more than 24 million pounds of total electronics were recycled in 2010 – 10.3 million in the first half of the year and 13.8 million in the second half.
Those electronics were collected by nearly 150 organizations that registered with the state to collect televisions, computers, fax machines, VCRs, cell phones, and other consumer products. As of spring 2011, 350 collection sites had been established in 65 counties across the state, covering 98 percent of the state’s population.
“As we stand on the verge of Earth Day, this new reports showing the growth in electronics recycling as a result of the law is great news, not just for our environment, but our economy as well,” said Thad Nation, Executive Director of Wired Wisconsin. “This increase will result in fewer toxic substances being released into our ecosystem, and will ultimately help electronics collectors and recyclers expand their services and create new jobs across the state.”
The E-Cycle Wisconsin law took effect on January 1, 2010, while a ban on putting certain electronics – including larger products like computers, printers, and DVD players – in the trash or dumping them in landfills took effect on September 1.
“What’s even more exciting is to see the potential for even greater results this year,” Nation continued. “The results show a clear uptick in the second half of the year after the enhanced electronics ban went into place. We only expect to see these numbers go up as consumers learn more about how and where to recycle their electronics.”
A survey conducted by the DNR late last year showed that the percentage of households recycling computers and TVs approximately doubled from 2006, when the last recycling survey was distributed.
Now that we’ve discussed what TEM is and why you need it, and gone over the power of a SaaS telecom expense management application, we’ll walk through the tasks you can manage to help control your telecom costs. And we’ll start with:
Telecom Inventory Management
What’s the first thing your Mother taught you? “Always put away your toys when you’re done playing with them.” Good advice. The trouble is, you don’t HAVE the toys. If you are a typical telecom manager, your assets are scattered all over the company. POTS (plain old telephone service) lines running into buildings, smartphones in salespeople’s pockets, old pagers stuffed in drawers… We could go on, but you get the idea. This isn’t a bunch of blocks that you can stack in a pile and count.
So one of the key challenges of telecom expense management has always been “How do I know what to pay for if I don’t even know what I have?”
This is where telecom expense management software comes in. Imagine a neat drop-down menu that says “Inventory”. From there you have an intuitive interface allowing you to see all the data on your inventory items. What is it, where is it, who has it, what vendor is it from, what features does it have, and what does it cost. The magic of integration! In fact, the most powerful aspect of a good telecom expense management tool is its ability to deliver the Big Picture. Here is this bit of data, tied to this detail over here and those six things over there. Click, click, click and you can see the whole telecom landscape in one place.
Which sure makes keeping track of your stuff easier!
Stay tuned for the next post, when we talk about Cost Allocation…..
Madison, WI (April 19, 2011) - Certified woman-owned telecom expense management software and telecom auditing firm Valicom is proud to be honored as part of DiversityBusiness.com’s 11th Annual Business Awards. Each year DiversityBusiness.com collects and compiles their ‘Top Business List’ on a State and National basis. The data is used to determine the most successful woman and minority owned entrepreneurs across the United States for their awards program. Making the list puts Valicom’s name in front of Fortune 500 companies, Government Agencies and College and Universities looking to do business with women-owned small businesses. Valicom and all winners of this honor are invited to the awards ceremony in Washington, DC at the 11th Annual National Business Awards and Conference, April 19-21, 2011.
Nancy Peckham, CEO and Founder of Valicom, was pleased with the distinction, stating “Woman and minority owned businesses are an important piece of the engine that runs America’s economy. We’re proud to be a part of that, with our strong tradition of excellence in serving our clients, while also helping them be better corporate citizens through their support of diversity.“
Having operated as a 100% woman-owned business enterprise (WBE) since 1991, Valicom provides telecom and wireless expense management services to businesses of all sizes, while also helping them fill their supplier diversity goals. Working in industries as varied as manufacturing, retail, healthcare and public utilities, Valicom marries a commitment to customer service with a proven track record of reducing, controlling and increasing visibility into voice, data and wireless costs.
In addition to serving private corporations’ telecom management needs, the rollout of the new Small Business Administration’s Woman Owned Small Business (WOSB) program offers Valicom opportunities to expand its footprint with federal, state and local government agencies. As slashed public budgets squeeze spending at all levels, Valicom’s ability to provide reduced telecom costs and better operational efficiencies is increasingly necessary. Funds saved through a strong telecom expense management program can then be re-allocated to other needs, enhancing the effectiveness of each tax dollar spent.
Valicom’s customized service solutions are delivered via their web-based telecom expense management software Clearview, offering a flexible range of packages that may include: telecom invoice auditing; RFP creation, telecom vendor selection and contract negotiation; telecom invoice processing, cost allocation and payment; wireless optimization; and other ongoing telecom management services as needed.
First things first, what the heck is SaaS… It’s just an acronym for “software as a service”, which is a fancy way to say “software that you log into via the internet, versus having to download and install it on a computer or server.” In other words, software when and where you need it.
Why do you care? Go ask your IT guy why. Quite simply, if it isn’t on your machine, it isn’t your problem. Security, updates, upgrades, patches, enhancements, anything and everything that software geeks like to do to software are all handled remotely, and it is transparent to you. No added expenses, no downtime, no worries.
Add to that the fact that you can just buy a subscription to the tool, versus buying it outright. That keep the price down, which keeps your CFO happy. A happy CFO and a happy IT guy. Workplace bliss! You’re welcome.
Taking the Tool to the TEM Tasks
As discussed earlier, telecom expense management, or TEM, consists of a variety of tasks, each one handling a different aspect of the telecom environment. So a TEM SaaS tool is designed to make it easier to enter data, track changes, cross-reference items, flag problems and push invoices from entry, to approval, to payment. It also stores everything in ONE place, wireless, voice and data, and offers loads of reports allowing you to fine tune the data for even the finickiest of managers.
And telecom expense management software is part of a larger picture. Whether you want to do everything yourself, or plan to outsource some or all of the telecom management tasks to a partner, the tool is what ties it all together. Data goes in, someone manages the information within the tool, and good reporting and clean invoice payments come out the other end.
Stay tuned for more details on how that works in upcoming posts……
A challenge facing the telecom expense management channel is the increased sophistication of our clients. And mind you, a “challenge” is not a “problem”. Having a better educated, more informed marketplace has always been a goal at Valicom, as we feel the more we all know, the better we can serve each other and our end user customers.
The challenge instead lies in offering a flexible service model, so clients have the option to manage the pieces of the telecom landscape they both can, and want, to handle themselves while still providing back office support to take on tasks they prefer to outsource. Some TEM providers can’t address this shift in the market as they are locked into a full “lifecycle management” model, where you get the whole enchilada – or you go hungry.
A preferred model would be more “a la carte”. Some Telecom Managers may have an in house team that is perfectly capable of running monthly invoice audits, but don’t want to deal with the data input issue of getting all that invoice information into a software tool. Or maybe they want to outsource bill payment, having someone else cut the checks. Some may just need someone to help write an RFP, and then show up with a big stick when it is time for telecom contract negotiation. A flexible TEM vendor can provide all, or some, of the services you need, when you need them. So when you’re hunting for a telecom expense management partner, look for one with a taco bar, instead of a one size fits no one model from the 90s. An ideal solution should be someone who provides options ranging from “you do it yourself” to “we do it together” to “we do it for you”. Then you always get what you want, even if what you want changes as your in house capabilities increase or decrease over time.