When selecting a telecom expense management service partner, it is best practice to consider, during the preliminary consultation phase, five TEM challenges your organization will face. One of these entails a cost-benefit analysis.
Your organization will need to adjusticate if the expected return is worth the predicted cost.
If you already have deployed a TEM solution —whether third party or DIY— you will also need to decide if it is generates the cost savings and the operational streamlining you were hoping for, or… if it is time to switch.
According to Gartner, TEM pricing is a major challenge for any organization. Likewise for “hidden fees”, and the length of the implementation period as it determines to a large degree the payback period.
In our 32 years gaining ground in the TEM industry, we have met a good number of CEOs and CFOs disappointed in the way their TEM team under-delivered on promises. Most of the times, their decision to select a TEM specialist was based on price reductions, performance expectations, and scalability.
In a recent study conducted by Gartner, enterprises realized that the implementation period was longer than they had been led to expect; that all costs had not been disclosed upfront; and that processes and SLAs had been poorly defined by the TEM team, generating additional work all parties involved.
We have identified 5 areas of challenge for any enterprise considering hiring a telecom expense management service specialist.
TEM Challenge #1: Reducing TCO
While most CEOs/CFOs consider that reducing TCO is important, it is neither a deal maker or deal breaker insofar as TEM is concerned. TCO ranks among their top 10 concerns, but most C-suite executives we met would trade it off in return for greater value generation from system-wide optimization, full transparency, enhanced process development, and efficiency in scalability.
Our clients usually want to assess the difference between building, deploying and operating their own proprietary TEM platform, vs. implementing a fully outsourced TEM solution.
Based on our 32 years of experience in the industry, it is safe to say that the highest return is generated by a fully outsourced TEM program implemented by a TEM specialist through a robust software platform and trained staff optimizing the platform usage. TCO must be analyzed from onboarding, though the platform setup process, all the wayh to its monthly operation. TEM, by its very nature, should not be a monthly liability but a powerful contributor to the bottom line through both hard and soft dollar savings.
Challenge #2: Guaranteed ROI
Some TEM companies offer an ROI percentage to their clients.
ROI is a major KPI of TEM services, and any C-suite executive would want to know what their organization receives in return for their investment in a TEM solution. We certainly have heard our fair share of “guaranteed ROI” assurances. For the client, the key is to request contractually that their TEM partner provides them accurate ROI measurements. And before the relationship even begins, ask TEM vendors for sample work to ensure numbers are real, as well as client references. Trust but verify.
We measure our ROI quarterly and annually, both client by client and on a consolidated basis. Each month, we put together an Exceptions report that details any overcharges and erroneous billing due to vendor mistakes, and send it to our client for validation. We have reported their ROI to our clients for a very long time, and we keep a compilation of these numbers. You can ask us any document showing RadiusPoint’s quarterly and annual consolidated ROI.
Challenge #3: Clear Communication & Implementation
The ability of TEM service providers to represent accurately the timeframe of implementation of their solution is of great concern. Gaining control of vendor information and cost center location info takes time but not that much time. It is therefore crucila that transparent communication during the setup phase be the rule from its very beginning.
Multiple meetings and phone calls with key individuals on board will truly set the stage for the rest of the deliverables. Some of our clients are enterprises that realized that their previous TEM service provider had promised them much, but then failed to execute. If a vendor can’t keep their word before the start of a TEM project, you can be assured the rest of the project will soon suffer.
At RadiusPoint, each client is assigned a project management team who stays on board the entire duration of the setup process, and even after the team handoff so as to ensure everyone is on the same page. The statement of work and weekly follow-up meetings are conducted to also ensure each individual knows their responsibilities and duties for the remainder of the project. We hold monthly client calls after everything has been implemented, and to leave our clients a chance to ask questions and request clarity where needed.
Challenge #4: Flexibility & Innovation
Each TEM solution should have the option to be tailored to a client’s requirements. This is not to say each client will be provided a completely different service, but the specific goals and necessities each enterprise must be taken into consideration. Implementing a customized solution or having the capability to alter it based on specific needs will allow all objectives to be met and completed on time.
With RadiusPoint tiered solutions, we offer a similar concept: each tier offers an overall solution but we can modify each service and add to our SaaS platform to encompass whatever our client needs. This is a benefit of enabling clients to offer questions & solutions to the software in our monthly surveys, so we can better serve not only their needs, but remain innovative and cutting-edge in technology.
TEM Challenge #5: Commitment to SLAs
The importance of maintaining a solid SLA is just as important as the delivery of the service. Not only does a good SLA clearly define the expectations and responsibilities of both the client client and the TEM provider, but it also explains who, what, where, when and how.
When outsourcing any service to a third party, it is necessary to ensure that all parties’ expectations are visibly outlined and that there is a clear understanding of how issues will be prioritized.
For RadiusPoint, sustaining a secure and compliant SLA is vital to our workflow process. Our priority #1 is to ensure your organization not only receives a service that fits its business model, but that it also receives a service exceeding expectations in its delivery.
While we provide expense management services in different domains, our method of managing invoices thoughout their lifecycle is the same and our job is to communicate effectively how our automated processes deliver savings to our clients.
If you are looking to deploy a DIY or third-party TEM solution, make sure you consider each of these various TEM challenges. Once the risks and benefits are clearly analyzed and understood, deciding which TEM vendor to select becomes that much easier.