Managing telecommunication expenses has become so much more complex. Business costs relating to voice, data and mobile services grow significantly each year for many organisations. In 2020, Australia is expected to spend around $27 billion in communication services.
The pressure is on you, as a finance professional, to somehow manage all data from the different telecom services, handle billing, deal with numerous suppliers, and deliver cost control and optimisation for your company. And it doesn’t get any easier – now, you also have to deal with the financial impacts of a mobile workforce and emerging technologies like Wi-fi 6 and 5G.
This is where Telecom Expense Management (TEM) becomes essential for an organisation. TEM is a management and governance process that tracks all telecom costs, including voice, data and wireless assets and services. To better understand TEM and how it works, we have developed this post to help you learn a bit more about its history and how it has evolved over the years.
The early days
In the days before wireless internet and mobile devices (which really isn’t so long ago), things were a lot simpler. Companies usually just worked with a single telecommunication supplier – using mainly a PABX (private automated branch exchange) system, desk phones and fixed phone lines.
So, invoicing and managing of phone services were fairly easy and straightforward. At that time, telecom expenses weren’t as significant to company spending as they are now.
Back then, there wasn’t even a need for a unified expense management process. Companies simply hired staff to conduct manual audits on telecom expenses to track usage, document additional service costs and spot billing errors. But since audits were done manually through excel spreadsheets, they took a long time to complete and were prone to constant mistakes on the recorded data.
As technology evolved, more providers began entering the telecom market and offered new services, networks and devices. And with the arrival and quick growth of business mobility, organisations struggled to keep up with the changes, and desperately needed a more effective way of tracking and managing the expenses associated with the new telecom services.
Platform model breakthrough
The Telecom Expense Management process became relevant to businesses as mobile technologies emerged and new telecom services were introduced. Finance teams needed to better manage the added complexity in tracking voice, data and mobile expenses.
Service providers began offering their clients billing management tools and expense tracking solutions as part of their service contracts. This later developed into the TEM platform that was designed to revolutionise the whole expense management process.
The original TEM platforms helped businesses:
- Automate billing reviews and reporting
- Conduct quicker audits and identify billing errors
- Centralise and organise telecom information including inventory, services, billings and usage
However, as telecom services became more complex (with the exponential growth of mobility across organisations) – the TEM platform still proved to be a standalone and siloed solution. Yes, the software automated the process and analysed bills and usage levels, but it failed to provide complete visibility across the whole lifecycle of the asset or service.
With the widespread use of telecom and mobility services across teams and departments within the organisation, companies began to realise that they needed a more integrated and holistic approach to telecom management.
Modern TEM: Full lifecycle approach
Nowadays, it’s not enough to just have good TEM software. Communication and mobile technologies evolve very quickly – constantly transforming the modern workplace.
In order to effectively track and manage telecom services, your expense management process should be able to adapt to these innovations. It needs to address the full lifecycle of telecom expenses, from procurement workflows and approvals, to inventory management, bill management, analysis, distribution and reporting.
This is the new lifecycle management approach to telecom expense management. Companies like Bluewater offer a cloud-based TEM and lifecycle management platform that goes beyond invoicing and expense tracking to help you manage the whole process from purchase to payment of telecom assets and services. The centralised platform enables you to:
- Consolidate your purchasing and approval process
- Allocate and control your assets and costs easily at the time of procurement or change
- Build, track and manage all your assets throughout their lifecycle in a central location
- Analyse expense and usage, and simplify cost centre GL allocation
- Deliver bespoke reporting to users and cost centre managers
- Securely link third-party platforms (eg. Mobile Device Management) to your lifecycle management platform
As a finance professional, the TEM + lifecycle management platform not only helps you control costs, but also streamlines processes and reduces the manual labour associated with managing telecom assets and expenses across every department in your organisation. It allows you to gather and analyse the financial data you need to track voice, data and mobile services – all in one central and easily accessible location that integrates with your Managed Service Providers, giving you one single pane of glass to manage mobility and TEM. And importantly, it helps you put the accountability for spend back on the users through enhanced visibility.