By Scott Johnson and Tiffany Brown
Organizations today have major inefficiencies in their telecom networks. Understanding what is on the network and how it should be charged is very complex, and as a result, organizations are paying millions of dollars more than they need to on their bills. There has been an awakening to this fact due to the desire to transform and modernize networks.
Modernizing your technology to support your future network demands requires an accurate inventory of your existing assets as a baseline. But relying on invoices from service providers to take stock of what you have is often difficult. Invoices typically omit key information you need to catalog your assets. They’re riddled with billing errors that render the data useless as a benchmarking tool. Managing contracts, licenses, and orders adds to the challenge and complexity of accurately cataloging your network assets, which evolve over time.
Organizations should follow best practices to mitigate risks:
- Perform a strategic audit. A partner specializing in strategic auditing can accurately assess your existing physical and virtual network inventory assets, what they are, where they are, how much they cost, and how much they should cost. This provides a baseline from which to identify cost savings, plan for network optimization, expansion, or migration, and help secure your network by eliminating unused assets that may pose a risk.
- Surface billing errors. Billing errors will be uncovered during the audit process. An experienced partner will perform a historical audit and, if warranted, a physical audit of sites, and then go even deeper and inspect every facet of rates, quantity, and existence, — reviewing contracts, terms, and conditions, as well as examining taxes, surcharges, and fees, which are often neglected areas of material savings.
- Benchmark rates, terms, and conditions. How do you know if your telecom contracts align with those of your peers? An experienced partner can produce a comprehensive telecom services inventory and benchmark prevailing market rates by leveraging industry, regulatory, supplier, and proprietary pricing data sources. It’s important to use actual negotiated rates versus a benchmarking service that utilizes price quotes obtained in partnership with the service providers themselves, which is a brokerage service. Another opportunity that exists is buried in the terms and conditions. Securing what appears to be the best prices does not always equate to securing the best effective rates. It is critical for enterprises to have a complete picture before making decisions.
- Negotiate best-in-class services and pricing. Once benchmarks have been established, they can be used as parameters for negotiation. Look for a provider that can assist you in procurement and contract negotiation for true best-in-class services and prices. This can often be done without switching suppliers. Identified billing errors from the audit will certainly help in any negotiation. If a change of provider is called for, the accurate inventory established earlier will streamline the process by ensuring you don’t migrate unneeded services or disconnect something critical by mistake.
- On-going audit and management. It is critical to continually audit telecom data each month to ensure financial assurance, mitigate security risks, and be positioned to capitalize on strategic opportunities, such as emerging technologies like AI and blockchain.
The Ideal Partner Attributes
When seeking a partner to assess your telecom environment, look for the following qualities:
- Audits that go beyond low-hanging fruit. Finding billing errors is table stakes. Look for a provider that can go deeper, auditing areas others may not examine, including physical sites, fees, and taxes. Ask for case studies, references, and how much they have actually saved their customers.
- Automated solutions to provide speed and accuracy. Data normalization and auditing tools save time compared to tedious manual audits and incorporate past data and experience for continual improvements. Speed to savings should be a factor in the decision-making process. Look for a partner with a proven track record of speed and best-in-class results.
- Service level agreements that guarantee a positive return on your investment. Telecom financial assurance services shouldn’t cost you a penny out of pocket. It’s about adding value — ensuring you’re getting the most out of every dollar spent while returning dollars to you. Ensure alignment of pricing, so that both parties are motivated to achieve the best outcome.