Telecom expense management (TEM) is the process through which an enterprise’s IT and accounts payable/finance departments work in sync to acquire, provide and support any corporate fixed and mobile communications services.
“We are trying to simplify your financial control by reducing costs and increasing productivity with workflow management,” says Anthony Buono, enterprise solutions specialist with Simplify Inc.
Buono says there are benefits to telecom expenses management as well as facility management, including reduced operational costs, life-cycle management, and improved productivity and control.
“Our industry-leading software platform (Advocate) is the core benefit of Simplify’s services and we strive to deliver to our clients a full lifecycle management solution,” he says.
Smart Business learned more from Buono about how businesses can benefit from TEM and facility management.
How does TEM reduce costs and help workflow management?
Basically, the IT/telecom team orders products and services, while the finance team approves invoices. The teams typically work hand-in-hand, and the TEM solution works to bridge any gaps. Instead of chasing after each other to ask questions back and forth, the application automates some of the process work they would do, such as approving invoices.
Typically, many companies choose to contract a third-party service provider in order to utilize an application that controls and leverages the automation of the invoice management process. Additional services play a key role in a complete solution, including sourcing, ordering and provisioning management, inventory management, contract management, usage and dispute management. The goal is to develop a customized workflow to complete a telecom lifecycle management solution that includes reporting and business intelligence.
Why is TEM applicable to businesses with multiple telecom vendors?
Last year, in Magic Quadrant for Telecom Expense Management, technology research and advisory company Gartner Inc. wrote ‘For most organizations, fixed and mobile communication services are among the top five business expenses, but (organizations) often do a poor job of managing processes relating to communication spending.’
This is one key area that companies need additional help with, especially organizations with multiple telecom carriers. They may obtain assistance with the up-front services to help save money on telecom carrier options, but those organizations are typically left handling the invoice process. Where multiple carrier invoices are standard, a TEM solution is the perfect fit to streamline the workflow for the invoice management process. If a company has one invoice, it’s manageable. But if they have three or four carriers, it gets more complicated.
Based on client feedback, Simplify has added layers of services to our custom application called Advocate that include Enterprise Cost Management.
What are some examples of cost management in telecom, and how do they work?
Some clients with multiple carriers have difficulties approving the invoices manually in order to make accurate payments. If that payment to the carrier is not made on time, then service may be cut off, resulting in downtime for the business.
Consider changes to inventory that impact the invoice and approvals that aren’t timely. Service is disrupted requiring a manager to step in and call the carrier to get the service back up and create a dispute. Why not rely on someone else to do that?
Our Advocate platform powered with our ECM solution allows clients to rely on the automation of the application to upload all invoice details for viewing and approval. This eliminates the need for stacks of invoice files on the desk and working through massive Excel spreadsheets to track all invoices every month.
How does workflow automation impact telecom costs and efficiency?
The key is to transfer the current process each client uses today and embed that as part of the workflow utilizing the TEM platform. Where most companies may look at the top 10 percent of the invoices coming in every month, the other 90 percent are slipping through the cracks. The system will automate the receipt and validate each invoice for any various overage fees and charges for services not rendered.
This is a huge benefit of automating with a software application. Additionally we leverage our relationship with the carriers to convert a paper invoice into an electronic file for uploading into the platform. If a company doesn’t have an expense management platform, they do that manually. So if they are a small company, they may get multiple paper invoices from their carrier. Larger carriers like Verizon or AT&T will give larger companies an online portal, which they have to visit to track down their invoice information. Companies typically spend hours and hours manually organizing all that data in Excel spreadsheets. It’s chaotic to think that’s the case, but it is.
What should companies look for in facility management?
Some of the key features to look for in a facility management service include capturing maintenance contract expiration dates, scheduled maintenance, pictures of assets to control and a complete work history of contractors and service provided. Companies should always be looking for partners that think outside the box to help them in ways that would create additional cost savings. Simplify has partnered with a company that provides a full service application in order to manage the workflow of service requests into work orders, allowing complete Facilities Lifecycle Management by tracking expense allowance and invoice reporting.
Anthony Buono is an enterprise solutions specialist at Simplify. Reach him at (203) 888-3146 or email@example.com.