A lot of talk and industry reports about wireless TEM focuses on the IT side of the house. We brought in one of our mobility experts and asked them to enlighten us on the finance departments WEM (wireless expense management) needs. What follows is Part II of an interview with Phil Caruso, Senior Consultant from MTS, as we discuss the wireless TEM requirements of the finance people; the data that they need to see, and the systems and processes they need to be successful.
Part I of the interview can be found here.
[JR] You mentioned policy. It always seems to come up when we talk about wireless expense management.
[PC] I know, I seem to beat it to death, but a well written and enforced wireless policy is the single biggest factor in controlling wireless spend. Without it, all you can do is work at the margins, like raising your pool of minutes, instead of looking at what the minutes are used for.
This is only going to become more important as data goes from “all you can eat” to limited. Most vendors have already put limits in place, and those that still market "unlimited" data plans will start to throttle your usage after a predefined limit, so it ultimately isn't really unlimited. Data limits, and more data hungry phones like iPhones and Android devices, are going to make data the new challenge in keeping costs in check.
Again, getting in front of this with published wireless policies, like "don’t stream the Lord of the Rings trilogy onto your phone", is going to be important. It’s a good time to review your current policy and see if those kinds of limits are in place. The rapid changes in mobile technology mean that your policy has to remain a living document.
[JR] The last topic you mentioned earlier is allocating expenses. Isn’t that something the GL system will take care of?
[PC] Yes, but you have to feed it the data. Remember the old adage, garbage in, garbage out. There are a lot of companies out there that manually put that data into their GL system using a spreadsheet that assigns each wireless line to a specific cost center. That's a very labor intensive monthly task and is extremely prone to error. Other companies try to divide up the usage at the vendor level, having different pools for different areas of the company. This diminishes the overall efficiency and cost savings that pooling can ultimately provide the enterprise.
I'm also a firm beleiver that just allocating the costs, ie. providing a number, doesn’t empower the business unit managers. They’re just as frustrated as the finance department that costs are rising, and they want to be able to control those costs within their organizations.
This type of control mandates the need for a tool such as a TEM solution, that reports and provides full visibility to the usage data within their department to those department managers. These department managers can end up being your allies in maintaining control of costs.
With this increased visibility, you may notice costs magically decrease as soon as people know that it’s their supervisors, and not just some faceless finance types at Corporate, that see the details of their usage.
[JR] This has all been good information, but it seems limited to corporate liable phones. What about individual liable phones?
[PC] There’s still an expense with IL [individual liable] phones and it still needs to be allocated and evaluated. A good TEM system can help you keep track of spend on IL stipends and allow you to make good decisions on whether to continue with IL or migrate to CL.
The downside with IL is that the lack of usage data makes it hard to really be proactive in evaluating IL spend. However, there are new technologies that may make that IL data available and TEM providers like MTS offer those solutions as well.
If you would like to hear this interview in its entirety, please download the Podcast: Mobility Management from the Finance Perspective