From cell phones to BlackBerrys, does keeping Finance equipped with up-to-date wireless communication tools have to be so costly?
Not if you stay on top of everything you’re using. Many telecom expenses fly under the radar — but they can really add up. One company recently cut the number of telecom providers by more than half and actually stopped paying for services they didn’t really need or use. The result: big savings, with expenses in some areas decreasing as much as 50%.
Regardless of the size of your company, experts who specialize in managing telecom costs swear by these proven strategies. If you’re not doing these, you may want to start.
- Make sure there’s a written policy — a crystal-clear one. Some companies have a “hands-off” policy when it comes to telecom, allowing employees to choose whatever devices or plans they wish. Like anything else, if you don’t want your staffers to take advantage, you need a definitive written policy detailing what is and, more importantly, what isn’t allowed when it comes to telecom in your firm.
- Limit the power. For convenience purposes, many companies grant an array of employees — from Procurement to IT — the power to sign off on telecom expenses like cell-phone bills. The problem: No one has a full grasp on what’s going on and, as a result, many favorable terms, volume discounts and other available provider perks are missed. In addition, it’s easier for duplicate service charges to occur. So, make one capable employee the telecom quarterback — everything must go through him or her first. It may take some getting used to, but the end result will be well worth it.
- Less is more. When it comes to telecom carriers, remember this equation: Fewer carriers equal greater leverage. Why? The more business you do with a carrier, the more power you have to negotiate terms and discounts. But it’s important to have a balance. Having a single carrier for your entire company isn’t prudent, either. For one, the presence of another carrier can greatly enhance your chances of getting favors from your main carrier. And most companies can’t expect a single carrier to cover all of their needs.
Key: Spell out exactly what your needs and goals are when it comes to telecom. Then, research a few carriers that will help you meet those goals.
- Forget the expense reports, do it yourself. If you want staffers to be more conscious of telecom charges, make them submit expense reports when it comes to their cellphones, BlackBerrys and other electronic devices, right? Not so fast. For one thing, it adds more steps to your monthly process and makes it easier for reporting mistakes to crop up. The remedy: Cut out the middleman, and pay all employee bills directly.
- Make it someone else’s problem. Of course, you may very well find your needs are too vast to handle in-house. In this age of prominent outsourcing, why should telecom be any different? While it’s definitely a judgment call, a common number companies go by is 500 users or greater for outsourcing. One option: a virtual accounting department. There’s a slew of consulting companies that specialize in telecom expense management (TEM). These firms say they can save companies up to 15% in telecom costs. How? By using their pull to get vendors to agree to favorable contracts, creating more effective telecom plans and axing any services that get zero usage. Handing over the reigns to a TEM firm is a big commitment, so be sure to analyze the projected savings from a few different angles to be sure it’s the right move for you.
Still interested? Here’s a few industry leaders in telecom expense management: