Although mobile assets and services are crucial to the way we do business, most organisations fail to put strategic effort into managing the cost of mobility. At most, many consider it only when their carrier contract comes up for renewal – every couple of years.
Even then, there is a tendency to focus on the surface level – like the cost of service plans – and not to delve any deeper into the internal costs of managing the whole mobility lifecycle. As organisations are now fighting fierce competition where increased productivity and efficiency is an important KPI, this is a serious oversight – one that leaves significant money on the table, and chews up resources and time that could be better spent running down the next valuable opportunity.
Organisations can therefore not ignore the opportunity to optimise the mobility lifecycle. The first step? Understanding the entire lifecycle and where inherent and hidden costs lie.
Stage 1: Procurement of services and assets
During procurement, the onboarding of a new employee is coupled with a request for an asset and service. Or existing employees require upgrades of asset or service. In both cases, the approval process starts and typically a cost-centre is allocated to the asset and/or service.
While this sounds straightforward, in the majority of organisations the request and approval processes are manually undertaken over the phone and via email. Manual workflows and inadequate controls creates a number of problems and inefficiencies:
- The wrong service is selected (i.e. not enough data to service the employee in their role)
- The wrong asset is selected (i.e. a top of the range smart device for the new intern)
- A brand new asset or service is provisioned when an existing asset and/or service could have been redeployed
- There are delays in approval (i.e. the approving manager is on leave, and the approval gathers digital dust in their inbox)
- There is an unclear audit trail, and incorrect order details are hard to find and investigate.
- Allocation to asset registers and cost centre spreadsheets is manual and can be forgotten.
Stage 2: Staging and deployment
In this stage of the lifecycle a service is set up with new hardware. Depending on company policies, procedures and requirements, things like Mobile Device Management (MDM) or security profiles will need to be established. These profiles need to link to HR and billing for complete governance to be created. However, a loose workflow without controls in place can see new services come on board without going through these correct staging steps.
Additionally, it’s also common to see profile information stored across different databases and multiple departments. Without centralisation, issues fly under the radar, essential information is hard to access, and the system/s quickly become inefficient, dealing with incomplete data, costing your business time and money.
Stage 3: Support
As employees come and go, or move around an organisation, so do mobile assets and services. With staff movement comes various support tasks that are either actioned by the finance or IT department.
Tasks like a change of ownership, reallocation of devices, roaming additions, service changes and cost centre moves all take time to implement. Add to this that processes are commonly fragmented and systems disparate, and you’ve got a recipe for inefficiency, a lack of audit trails and too many resources used on routine tasks.
Stage 4: Expense management
For many businesses, monthly bills will be showing up across the month for the different accounts within the company. As you’re undoubtedly aware, telecom spend isn’t insignificant and bills will require some analysis before being approved for payment.
With hard-to-wrangle tools, if any tools are available at all, most bill analysis is done from the top down. Usually, further investigation is only triggered if there is a variance from the last month over 10%. But without drilling down further into the detail and both validating and optimising spend, there is likely to be wastage occurring. Some common, but rarely discovered cost leaks include:
- Paying for services no longer in use
- Services used for the wrong purpose
- Incorrect charges
Even if these issues are detected, without the right tools, getting down to the root cause and sorting the problem out with your carrier will be both frustrating and time-consuming.
Stage 5: Cost allocation
Typically, mobility and telecom are centrally managed by IT, procurement and/or finance, but charges are allocated to appropriate cost centres every month. The more extensive the fleet, the more difficult this task becomes.
Unlike top-level bill analysis, there is no ‘shortcut’ when it comes to cost allocation. Charges must be allocated to the right person and cost centre. Reports need to be created, and journals need to be uploaded into the finance system.
Without a single and centralised source of information, this part of the lifecycle quickly becomes complex and wastes time. And without the right information to engage managers and hold them accountable, the single telecom expense line fades into the distance (meanwhile the manager may have ‘accepted inefficiency’ in their services).
With five distinct mobility lifecycle stages, it’s clear your phone bill is only one small component of a much more complicated process. In fact, it’s apparent that there are many tasks to be done within the lifecycle to ensure your mobile fleet is running as efficiently as possible.
Could you improve?
Have you spotted areas where your company could be making savings by tightening up the management of your mobility lifecycle? To help you dig a little deeper and consider the cost-cutting your company can achieve, ask yourself:
- Do we have tight enough controls over procurement?
- Do we know if some services or assets can be redeployed?
- Do we have adequate visibility around assets and services on an ongoing basis?
- Is it easy to investigate and take actions around a service?
- Are all our devices on our bill covered by our MDM environments?
- Do we have the tools to adequately review our bill each month?
- Is reporting and allocating our mobile activity to cost centres a simple process?
- Do we have a centralised system and workflow to manage our fleet?
If you’ve answered ‘no’ to any of the above, there is significant financial and resource leakage happening in your company’s mobile lifecycle.
Help is available
Thinking about where else in your mobility management processes there are symptoms of cost leaks and inefficiency? Check out our 7 signs your mobile management processes lose you money ebook to discover what to be on the lookout for.