Why is Technology Expense Management So Hard?
As a telecom manager or billing analyst, you likely understand the headache of trying to manage all of the invoices that come in every month. Depending on the size of your business and the extent of your network, you could have hundreds of invoices piling up on a regular basis. There simply aren’t enough man hours to go through each invoice and make sure you were billed correctly, especially considering the fact that a single invoice can be thousands of pages long.
Is there a solution? For many, Technology Expense Management (TEM) outsourcing (also known as Telecom Expense Management) is the key to control the chaos. Gartner defines Telecom Expense Management as services that “provide enterprises’ IT, procurement and finance departments with the ability to order, provision, support and manage costs of large-scale corporate communications and associated IT services with their inventories (such as fixed and mobile telephony and data, cloud license tracking and emerging IoT connectivity).”
But as invoices continue to overwhelm you and your network evolves and grows, is Technology Expense Management outsourcing enough? Could more be automated and managed to help you and your team process invoices faster, with greater confidence, and even save your company money? Absolutely.
The Need for Technology Expense Management (TEM) Outsourcing
The number and complexity of telecom invoices a business must process is mindblowing. Companies are required to pay these invoices within 30 days, leaving almost no time for your team to make sure every line item is correct. Staff spends hours sorting through these invoices, and even with their best efforts, there is inevitably overspend, simply because the process is too manual, time-intensive, and complicated.
Technology Expense Management outsourcing gives companies an automated solution to help companies streamline their fixed telecom expense management process. It not only provides needed visibility into all of the telecom vendors and invoices, but it consolidates all of the invoicing data to make it much easier to take inventory of assets and dispute any billing issues. TEM software provides valuable reports to help with audits, asset management, and expense management. Should audits discover invoice errors based on contractual terms, SLAs or recent moves, adds, changes and disconnect services (MACDs), you receive alerts so you can quickly resolve those issues.
Beyond transparency and consolidation, Technology Expense Management outsourcing also automates bill payment to eliminate late fees, avoid service interruptions, and ensure payments are applied to the appropriate invoices. It automatically allocates charges to the right cost center so you can see who is using what technology. Some Technology Expense Management providers will help you resolve billing errors and refunds.
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While Technology Expense Management outsourcing has been a lifeline for companies with more complicated and expensive telecom networks, there is still more that can be done to help companies save time, money, and unnecessary complexity.
Why Technology Expense Optimization Is Better
It is important to recognize that it is not just the number of invoices that causes so many challenges for your organization, but what is on those invoices. Are you getting what you’re paying for? Are you overspending in some areas? Are there opportunities to consolidate, improve, or adjust services to save costs without sacrificing functionality and quality?
Technology Expense Optimization (TEO) takes all of the benefits of traditional Technology Expense Management software and adds additional automation features to improve how your company manages its entire network. Instead of only managing technology expenses and identifying invoicing and contract issues, you can leverage software to help you resolve those issues, even lower your technology costs altogether.
Here’s why resolving those issues has been so difficult in the past. In order to quickly settle issues disputes, you need to know the details of the contracts and SLAs, as well as any MACDs. Time is of the essence because these issues typically fail to get noticed until several billing cycles have passed, resulting in significant overspend. Few companies have enough resources or transparency into all of their telecom vendors to confidently identify and manage these issues.
By automating not only the invoicing but the issue resolution as well, companies can save resources and ensure they are paying for only the technology and services they are actually using – and at the best price.
The Features of Technology Expense Optimization Software
If you are already outsourcing Technology Expense Management, you likely see some gaps that Technology Expense Optimization software can fill. If you have yet to invest in TEM, you may be realizing that you need something to help you manage all of your telecom invoices. In either case, Technology Expense Optimization software is all that you need. Here are the features to look for in a TEO solution:
Dynamic Inventory Management
Before you can control your spending and streamline your network, you have to know what you have and where you are spending money. For many organizations, technology inventory is a highly-manual process that results in static spreadsheets that are quickly outdated. Technology Expense Management outsourcing can help, but Technology Expense Optimization software automatically updates your inventory database the minute an invoice is received and exceptions are resolved. Your inventory database is always a current and accurate snapshot of the real state of your network.
SLA Invoice Auditing
SLAs can be lengthy and complicated. With so many vendors to manage, it’s no wonder there is often a lack of oversight. While your service providers may make their service level statistics available, it is up to you to ensure all of your SLAs are being met and whether you are entitled to any service credits. CIO says, “For critical services, customers should invest in third-party tools to automatically capture SLA performance data, which provide an objective measure of performance.”
TEO software is a third-party tool that does more than just capture SLA performance data. It automatically takes each of your technology invoices, line by line, and compares it to service inventory data to ensure you are getting exactly what your SLA states. It all works in the background, helping you conserve resources while giving you full assurance you are providing proper SLA oversight.
Exception Resolution Tools
With so many invoices to manage and so many line items to check, there will inevitably be billing errors. These can be glaring errors or tiny ones, but they all add up to extra costs. You need more than a tool that identifies billing issues; you need one that provides the necessary tools to help you quickly research and fix them. The best TEO software will enable you to research and correct issues, enter billing disputes, and track exceptions with a few clicks.
Automated Multi-Level Invoice Allocation
How much time do you spend re-allocating invoices every month? This can be a huge time drain; time you could be spending elsewhere. Technology Expense Management outsourcing has its limits. The software does not allow you to store and automatically inherit allocations every month, but TEO software does, at least it should. Be sure to use software that gives you the option of allocating telecom invoices at the header level, sub-account level or the service number level.
One of the largest areas of overspend is with contract renewals. It is common for providers to automatically renew contracts with little to no warning. Contracts renew year after year, often with cost increases, service level modifications, and other changes that you may not notice until the new contract is in place. This practice has become so common (and worrisome), that, according to Pew, many states are banning the practice to protect consumers. Businesses may be next.
Look for a solution that sends you emails alerting you of upcoming contract milestones well-enough ahead of time for you to review your current contract terms, investigate any changes, and decide if you agree to the new terms. If you work with the right Technology Expense Optimization provider, they will supply you with competitive quotes to review if you are interested in comparing rates and services, even managing your transition to a new provider for you.
Another valuable feature to look for when considering Technology Expense Management outsourcing, is a Technology Expense Optimization tool that is customizable to how you and your team works. It should be configurable based on where the processed invoice data should go and must offer effortless integrations into your accounting system, vendor management applications, ERP tools and any of your upload files.
Technology Expense Management outsourcing only goes so far. Boost your capabilities and save time by investing in Technology Expense Optimization. You will no doubt save money and reduce your workload while ensuring your company has better control over its telecom providers.