In today’s economic climate, Telecom Expense Management (TEM) is one of the most important cost-saving functions within an organization. Selecting and implementing the right vendor is critical to maximizing your telecom investments.
In the first two parts of this blog series we discussed:
In this article, Part 3, we'll discuss how to effectively rate vendors....
If your company does not already have one, develop a set of statements to objectively evaluate each provider and assign a weight to each statement. An example is below.
- Domain knowledge, company stability, references (20%)
- Solution capabilities and how it fits your needs (25%)
- Reporting and analytical capability (40%)
- Price & contract terms (15%)
Domain Knowledge/Company Stability/References
Your provider of choice should have expertise within the Telecom Expense Management field, and a track record of successful implementations with organizations similar to yours. The provider will need to possess an expert level of the telecommunication industry as well as an established pattern of working with telecommunication providers such as Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and Qwest. Look for a provider’s ability to manage the entire telecommunications lifecycle from beginning to end rather than just focused on telecom cost reduction. Lastly, inquire about the backgrounds of the individuals who would be working on your account. What is their specific background/experience?
A company’s longevity and financial stability should also be considered to ensure that you will have a partner long-term. You want to deal with a company that has a solid financial history and is financially secure. Inquiring into the provider’s customer mix will allow you to ascertain if they rely on audits or are securely entrenched in a managed services environment.
What about customer retention? Once a contract is up are they able to retain customers? Does the provider conduct regular focus groups to gain feedback from their customers on product enhancements and overall functionality?
As part of your reference check, speak to at least three current customers. Ask them their thoughts on working with the implementation and consulting teams, how closely did the project plans mirror what actually took place, were there any unsuspected pricing issues that arose? While it is somewhat subjective, ask if their expectations were met or exceeded and what would they have done differently knowing what they know now.
A provider’s platform should be built on leading edge technology and a single database that addresses the telecommunications lifecycle. Look for a solution that is automated, adaptable, scalable, and intelligent, which will fit your specific business needs/requirements. Ease of use for an end-user is also a key requirement. If the system is hard to navigate, or labor intensive, adaptability will be low.
Before you begin the evaluation process be sure to meet with your telecom, IT, A/P and A/R teams and create a checklist of exactly what your company’s needs are. The length of your list—long or short— is not important. Remember, the list defines what your company needs and should not be compared to other company’s as every Telecom Expense Management solution will be different based on existing resources and corporate requirements.
At the top of the list, along with functionality, or even above functionality, is data security. Your data is important and expectations are high that the company’s information will not be compromised in any way. Ask the provider where the data is stored, how is it stored, what levels of security (controls) are in place ensuring that your data is secure? What level of experience does the provider have in securing financial and other highly sensitive information? Is the system redundant with 24x7 access?
It is also critical to address the issue of scalability. What rules does the provider have in place to handle increases in capacity without adversely affecting response times or quality? After asking these and other questions, you should come away with the feeling that the security of your data is as important to the provider as it is to you.
To get where you want to be, you will need to ensure that the partner you select has a demonstrated robust methodology, such as MTS’s Map-To-WinSM. Additionally, try to match your company’s core values with that of your provider. You want to work with a company with similar values and one that you trust and like.