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 TEM vendor is critical to maximizing your telecom investments.
In the first three parts of this blog series we discussed:
In this final article in the series, Part 4, we'll discuss the importance of reporting and negotiating a contract with your vendor...
Reporting and Analytical Capability
Robust comprehensive reporting and analytical functionality is an essential part of any solution. You need to be able to access your data in a timely manner within a single application. Your TEM provider should have an interactive web-based reporting engine that allows for easy viewing and the creation of customizable reports. In addition, your selection criteria should include real-time access, fiduciary approval of invoices, ability to chart/graph/export, and weekly, monthly, quarterly reporting.
An analytics driven reporting engine provides business intelligence for your communications environment to mitigate risk and to increase efficiency and agility. Dashboard, alerts, trend analysis, benchmarking, and ad-hoc reporting tools are all factors in delivering real-time, relevant data for invoice, asset, and usage management to the right people.
A consolidated communications intelligence database combined with automated management reporting is crucial to the success of any TEM solution. Standard and enhanced reporting features may include web enabled report distribution, on demand queries, executive dashboards, user defined alarms and alerts, and a fully integrated an ad-hoc report writer enabling end-users to provide management and telecom staff with the information they need, when they need it.
Finally, be sure to discuss which reports are delivered “out-of-the-box” and what reports, dashboards can be created using the data universe.
Pricing and Contract
Now that you have selected your provider, the real fun starts—pricing and contract negotiations. Software license fees, outsourced recurring managed service fees, and implementation or engagement fees will have different characteristics and price components. Throughout your vendor selection process you will have the opportunity to discuss the different types of delivery methods and determine which model makes the most sense for your organization.
Once you receive the pricing model, inspect it to ensure that it is easy to comprehend and doesn’t contain any hidden fees or costs. A good pricing model will also include a set of Service Level Agreements (SLAs) that specify items such as cycle times, accuracy levels, and help desk response/resolution times.
Average outsourcing contract lengths are three years within the TEM industry with included renewal rates however outsourcing contracts can range anywhere from two to five years. Any fees associated with maintenance or upgrades (software/hardware) should also be spelled out.
The selection of a TEM provider should not be taken lightly. The TEM industry is evolving daily and the cost savings potential (ROI) for a company is well worth the upfront investment of time. You want to select a provider who is going to be a true partner and is an industry leader with extensive domain experience. To the best of your ability, ensure that the provider is able to provide a complete cradle-to-grave solution (i.e., audit, consulting services, cafeteria style managed services options including full BPO, on time, on budget implementation, etc.) and provide you with the reporting and analytical data you demand. Lastly, do not forget to conduct reference checks and speak to independent third parties such as Aberdeen, Forrester, and AOTMP. These will be great sources of information on the TEM provider and how they conduct business.