Voip-Expense-ManagementVoIP calls are not measured the way that plain old telephone service calls were. They're measured by data packet transmissions, rather than by time or distance. Telecom expenses are still something to be concerned about, but now it goes beyond just looking at the phone bill and writing a check. Now there's a whole new industry wrapped around Telecom Expense Management (TEM), which is essentially the new name for reducing telecom spending and improving cost control by way of bill reconciliation and accurate inventory. Simply put, TEM helps a company improve processes, gain control over its entire communications network, and ultimately reduce costs.

There are five crucial areas within TEM, regardless of how you spin the name. It has many different iterations.

1. Invoice Management — The traditional and original function of TEM, this is the portion responsible for bill auditing, chargeback accounting and correction, and analysis. It also needs to handle multiple invoices from multiple carriers, not to mention international invoices and inventory.

2. Procurement and Ordering Management — Let us say one of your company's mobile salesmen orders a mobile device that they feel will make their workflow easier. The order will go to that employee's manager, and from there up to a senior vice president. Some systems will allow the VP to approve or reject the order, or perhaps reject the original device and replace it with another one entirely, without any disruption to the workflow process. As this activity is tracked, it will be reported and sent to accounting for reconciliation.

3. Inventory Management — There are several situations that can warrant a Move / Add / Change / Delete order (MACDs) from the TEM Company or system. Most notably are the following:

          • If a user moves to a new department or location

          • If a user is laid off entirely

          • If an MPLS circuit is cancelled

An advanced TEM system can create and maintain an ever-changing inventory of every data, mobile and voice asset that an enterprise has in a centralized location. It is updated automatically and periodically.

4. Mobile (wireless) Expense Management — This is a very contentious area within the field of TEM, as the typical organization supports several different types of mobile devices, each of which that run two, if not three or four different wireless device operating systems. Complicating matters, many times an enterprise will not standardize with one carrier; they will allow their employees to use whichever telecom service provider they care to. Oftentimes, there are different billing models and regulations between carriers. Only the most advanced TEM services and systems can weather this, as they have become all-inclusive. They are able to cover provisioning and fulfillment, inventory management (such as MACD), mobile contract negotiations, invoice processing and allocations, and mobile policy development and enforcement.

5. "Intelligent Total Communications Management" or "Business Intelligence" — So many — if not all business processes are becoming telecom-enabled. So many business assets relate to mobile, data, and voice. Therefore, TEM ultimately reaches in to "fix" and streamline the corporate infrastructure. This can include many things, from cost center allocations and changes in accounting to vendor contracts. Not unlike the tail wagging the dog, communications management can levy order, efficiency and logic on organizations that have lost control of managing wireless and landline assets, and suffer from confusion in the business and mass inefficiencies as a result.

As of this writing, there are many players in the TEM space, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. If you choose to partner with one, be sure to do your due diligence to discover those strong points, and make sure they are a good fit for your business before you sign on the bottom line.

About The Author

Tanya Williams is excited with the new technologies that are threatening to change the way we stay in touch and communicate, particular in business. She works with companies that are introducing these technologies to make understanding them easy for regular people.