What Telecom Expense Management Is – And Isn’t

Confused about what Telecom Expense Management (TEM) actually means? You’re not alone. Over the years, communications technologies have changed. Telecom expense management has too, to varying degrees of success, depending on the vendor, C-suite, internal staff skill and so on. Now, with the advent of cloud, SD-WAN, anything “as a service,” the internet of things, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and more, “TEM” seems limited.

In many ways, it is.

A Short History of TEM

(Hint: It Wasn’t Pretty Much of the Time)

  • TEM originated as bill auditing after the 1984 breakup of Ma Bell. Savvy telecom insiders understood that increased carrier numbers would mean increased inaccurate charges. Bill auditors scoured customers’ bills and sought refunds. Customers recouped large piles of money from these invoice audits and viewed that as “savings”. This became the foundation of what would later become known as telecom expense management.

    Further opportunity arose in 1996. The federal government loosened even more regulatory chains on telecom providers. New phone companies emerged such as local exchange providers, aggregators and resellers. These new players targeted the lucrative business market. Advancements in technology and government policy were constant. Bill audit specialists knew they would need to shift gears to keep up. They would need to offer more managed services to take the burden off clients.

    The communications world was growing complex. But it was soon to become a lot more so.

  • The early 2000s and beyond in telecom

    Fiber optic buildouts. Long-distance price wars. Burgeoning internet demand. The early 2000s were awash in money and competition – until it all went bust. On the investor and carrier end, at least.

    On the enterprise side, bill auditing companies were calling themselves “TEM” vendors. The telecom world faced wide-ranging financial problems. TEM firms though, still had many opportunities to help enterprises find cost reductions. The popularity of these services fueled startups all over the country. These startups came in all different sizes and offered different capabilities. They added customers left and right. They drew venture capital, private equity, and Wall Street interest. Which, of course, leads to consolidation.

  • The upheaval began

    Starting around 2006 and leading up even to now, the telecom expense management solutions sector saw a frenzy of mergers and acquisitions.

    Stories of integration nightmares abounded. Customers couldn’t count on having the same account manager from one month to the next. Vendors changed contractual policies. They dropped support for platforms, or forced users onto TEM software they didn’t want.

  • But wait, there is definitely more

    Now recall what else was happening while TEM vendors joined forces so they could make more money.

    Wireless voice and data was turning into the primary method of communication.

    The first iPhone in 2007 changed everything. Everyone could now perform work on their personal phones. The bring-your-own-device phenomenon erupted. Organizations found themselves scrambling to make the most of enterprise mobility. At the same time, they struggled to accommodate it. The next iteration of TEM, wireless expense management (WEM), was born.

    Wireless pushed TEM companies to rethink their approaches to a once simple practice. The need for ongoing oversight, beyond one-time or even annual check-ins, became clear. Some vendors understood this. Others stayed stuck in the auditing roots of TEM (the results of which spoke for themselves).

    Then along came anything and everything “cloud” and “as a service.”

  • TEM is no longer just TEM

    These days, communications includes much more than telecom. Now it comprises wireless, AI, cloud, the internet of things, VR, unified communications and whatever is coming next.

    As a result, industry programs have had to undergo major adjustments. Again, some vendors have done this well while others have not. The vendors that do TEM right know that telecom expense management is not TEM anymore.

    Rather, it is Communications Lifecycle Management (CLM).

The Inescapable Value of CLM

As the moniker implies, CLM is a holistic process. It manages all aspects of an enterprise’s communications services and equipment. This applies from infrastructure design and contract negotiation to procurement and end-of-life decommissioning.

The scope of CLM goes much broader and deeper than TEM ever did on its own.

TEM, with expense management only at the invoice level, is now a niche, and vital, part of CLM. Many enterprises still rely on traditional landlines, broadband connections and T1 circuits. Add to that any associated devices and service plans. These continue to need auditing, moves/adds/changes/disconnects, monitoring and quality control. But telecom is far from the only area of administration within a CLM strategy.

Here are some ways in which One Source delivers fully managed CLM, which includes telecom expense management:

Centralize Management & Improve Decision Making
  • Establish single-source-of-truth for all corporate IT, mobile, and telecom devices, equipment, services, contracts, SLAs
  • Protect, control all corporate assets by enforcing procurement, usage, disposal, and security policies
  • Maintain compliance with industry and government regulations
Optimize Communications & Technology Expenditures
  • Optimize investments in communications devices, equipment, services, software by balancing cost-effectiveness and service quality. “Pay for what you need”
  • Reduce costs by contract negotiation, effective contract management, enforcing SLAs, eliminating erroneous charges. “Pay for what you use”
  • Promote financial accountability through reporting of indiscriminate use of company resources
Around-the-Clock Help Desk Staffed by Specialists
  • Get real-time updates associated with all service, repair issues
  • Reduce downtime through our dedicated carrier escalation channels
  • Lean on our team for moves, adds, changes, and disconnects
Expense Management/Bill Payment
  • Simplify invoice management
  • Audit services monthly to identify billing anomalies and control costs
  • Improve employee productivity – streamline invoice processing through consolidated repository for all services
  • Ensure on-time payment of invoices with advance bill management and payment processing; eliminate rushed invoice validation
Sourcing, Procurement
  • Identify and cut unnecessary services through inventory centralization, visibility
  • Avoid unnecessary rate hikes through contract lifecycle management
  • Use our carrier-agnostic system to ensure the right services drive operational excellence
  • Let us handle commissioning, deployment of telecom/network services, mobility solutions
Usage Optimization/Cost Recovery
  • Translate usage trends, turn business needs into implemented changes
  • Prevent indiscriminate usage through granular reporting
  • Recover billing errors through our fully managed bill dispute management process
  • Provide visibility to end users, management through shared services charge-back reporting
  • Confirm receipt of appropriate credits through fully managed SLA enforcement

The benefits of fully managed CLM are many. One of the most important is the partnership created between enterprise and vendor. In an ideal scenario, the enterprise outsources most, if not all, CLM needs to an expert managed services provider.
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A further benefit is that organizations are empowered to focus on their customers. IT staff don’t have to spend their time on routine, repetitive, low-value tasks. They funnel their talents and training into contributing to revenue generation. And what organization doesn’t want that?

Taking advantage of fully managed CLM will lead to success and outcomes you might never have expected. Along the way, you won’t have to worry about how to handle the ever-changing field of communications lifecycle management and all the confusing acronyms. We’ll take care of all that for you.

One Source’s Communications Lifecycle Management Solution Overview