Best Practices for the Telecom Lifecycle Management Process
Telecom Lifecycle Management Involves IT, Procurement & Accounts Payable
Today’s best practices in telecom lifecycle management enable streamlined, integrated processes that allow IT, procurement and accounts payable to work together efficiently. But if you don't have an automated lifecycle management process, the silos still remain. If you have separate, disjointed teams all interacting with telecom services and carriers, it's likely that:
(1) Telecom provisioning does not get accurately documented, therefore, your organization lacks a centralized, accurate inventory of services and equipment. And without an accurate inventory, you lack an authoritative record for use in auditing invoices.
(2) Inaccurate invoices get paid, resulting in over payments for services such as disconnected lines and overcharges.
(3) Discounts won through painstaking procurement negotiations are not always realized, because no one has the time to ensure the discounts show up on the invoices.
(4) You incur late fees because payments get misapplied, and the carrier views them as unpaid, or simply because it takes too long to approve invoices and process payments.
(5) It's difficult – even impossible – to track your global enterprise's actual spend versus budgeted spend.
(6) You become over-reliant on telecom carriers for information about your services and spend.
(7) Budgets and forecasts for voice and data spend are unreliable.
When the procurement department procures, the network group manages routine changes and the AP department pays – but there are no integrated, automated processes to connect these activities – it becomes exceedingly difficult to maintain budgetary controls. Success depends upon the right telecom expense management software and service team to manage the telecom lifecycle. Even organizations that do an exemplary job of managing network engineering, unified communications, procurement and telecom contracts sometimes fail to communicate with each other.
While most enterprises already view and manage IT services with a lifecycle management approach, some may not have defined specific lifecycle management processes for telecom and mobility services, which have their own specific requirements.
Here's a high-level view of how Cass manages the telecom lifecycle for its clients.
(1) Source: Typically clients source carrier services on their own or with the help of Cass. Once contracts are in place with approved carriers, the Cass team ensures that the new telecom contract data is stored within ExpenseSmart™, the Cass telecom expense management (TEM) software application.
(2) Order: Now the client's internal IT staff and other employees are able to order communications services, devices and equipment using Cass order and telecom provisioning tools within ExpenseSmart or by using other methods, such as other telecom provisioning software or IT service management tools that are integrated with the Cass TEM application. (Cass integrates with leading IT service management applications including ServiceNow.)
(3) Inventory: However the client chooses to do provisioning, Cass and the client develop an efficient system so that changes get updated in ExpenseSmart, the Cass TEM application where the client's centralized inventory is maintained.
(4) Process Invoice: Next, carrier invoices are directed to Cass, where the Cass service team uses the automated system and tools to compare the invoice with inventory data.
(5) Audit & Optimize: The Cass team audits the invoices – at the level of line-item detail. When errors are detected, the Cass team communicates these discoveries to the carriers and manages the recovery of overcharges, typically by securing a credit in the amount of the billing error. This closed-loop process ensures that the client pays for services at rates that accurately align with the terms of the telecom contract. On a regular basis, the Cass team reviews the clients' actual costs and usage data, and makes recommendations for optimization.
(6) Pay: Using its in-house capabilities as a Federal Reserve member bank, Cass manages its clients' bill payments, ensuring that payments are applied to the correct GL code. This provides greater convenience to our clients, and eliminates workload for the clients' accounting operations team.
With this service, clients benefit from maximized visibility into every step of the process as well as accurate financial reporting. At any time, clients are able to view amounts saved through optimization recommendations that were acted upon as well as recoveries from identified billing errors. Clients have a variety of tools to help them view and manage inventory and costs by division, location or other employee group. Most importantly, vast amounts of spend data are organized for analysis purposes. Future business decisions – including sourcing decisions – can be based on a complete understanding of costs, usage and other trends.
Why Focus on the Telecom Lifecycle?
The business case for investing in telecom expense management services is based on the organization's opportunity to reduce costs, improve service levels, and mitigate risk when you view the entire telecom lifecycle as a continuous business process. Common benefits of a formal telecom expense management program include:
Reduce invoice processing and payment costs
Eliminate duplicate payments and over payments
Minimize late fees and shutoffs
Identify unauthorized, unnecessary, and unused services
Ensure contract compliance and recovery of billing errors
Gain control, visibility, and accountability over all expenses
Establish and maintain an accurate telecom inventory
Optimize asset and usage utilization
Leverage buying power and negotiate the best rates
Increase capacity of staff or realign to strategic goals
More Telecom Expense Management Information
For more information about working with Cass to manage your telecom lifecycle, view our videos, telecom expense management white papers and TEM case studies or contact us today.