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The 21st century has brought about a revolution in wireless telecommunications for both voice and data applications. For today's corporate enterprises, wireless expenses have grown to comprise a sizable portion of overall telecom spend. The convenience and proliferation of wireless-enabled laptops, smart phones and PDAs makes it almost certain that wireless will be the fastest-growing segment of telecom expenditures for most companies in the coming years. The ability to control these escalating wireless costs within the corporate environment can prove to be a real challenge. Although a good percentage of companies attempt to reign in wireless spending through cost management programs established by IT departments and/or management, some experts estimate that up to 35% have no such programs in place. As is the case with any worthwhile endeavor, the ability to master and implement fundamentals is what separates the pros from the amateurs. Begin to integrate the following wireless cost management fundamentals across your organization. You will undoubtedly see a considerable reduction in overall telecom expenses. Fundamental
#1 - Know Your Wireless Inventory
Unlike large telecom purchases (e.g. a new PBX), wireless inventory invariably comes down to many individual transactions. To effectively manage this seemingly endless flow of wireless devices, it is essential that you know which ones are in use and what is actually being paid for. The first step in gaining control is to compile an inventory of every wireless device currently in use. This comprehensive list should include both enterprise-owned devices as well as employee-owned devices that are billed back to the company via monthly expense reports. Create a spreadsheet to track handsets, laptops, PDAs and other wireless devices currently in use. This simple action will invariably turn up devices that are not being used and therefore can be eliminated. Be
sure to also list for each device that is in service. Fundamental
wireless contracts currently in place #2 - Know Your Wireless Usage
Wireless usage can be personal in nature. When choosing a wireless plan for employees, simply opting for the usual "bucket of minutes" or generic "pooled" plan may not be the most effective cost-saving option. Once you have completed an up-to-date inventory of all wireless devices, it is now time to dig deeper and determine the most costeffective plans for each wireless device in service. Gaining complete control over wireless usage can be easier said than done however. Many wireless devices in use within a company are employee-owned or at least employee-managed. Even though the company may be footing the bill, some employees may be reluctant when asked to relinquish power over their rates and plans. To fully optimize wireless plans company-wide, gather and analyze wireless bills for the previous three months, then group into categories based on average monthly usage. You may find that a small percentage of employees are extremely high end users (e.g. traveling salespeople), another percentage average users and then another group whose usage is small in comparison. Once this data is compiled, it becomes much easier to assign the appropriate plans (and handsets) to individuals based on average usage. This approach is much more targeted (i.e. cost-effective) than simply throwing everyone into a "bucket of minutes" or generic "pooled" plan. Fundamental
#3 - Determine Ownership of Inventory
devices become part of the corporate landscape in one of two ways: through "official" corporate channels or through employee ownership. To command complete control over wireless expenses it is best if the company owns each and every device in service. However, there will almost always be instances where employees have wireless contracts in their names. Typically, these charges end up on monthly expense reports in miscellaneous categories - oftentimes not under "telecom" expenses. Determining ownership is critical to managing wireless expenses. Your initial inventory should include contract ownership information and the dates when contracts come due. Contract
expiration is the optimal time for transferring ownership back to the company. (Plan on a certain amount of resistance from employees when this occurs.) Fundamental
#4 - Determine Management Responsibilities
Given the fact that the nature of wireless is somewhat decentralized and fragmented across a corporate organization, the area of responsibility for this category is often blurred and undefined. Who is fully responsible - IT? Telecom? Accounting? Senior Management? The answer can be one or a combination of all of them. Before a comprehensive written wireless policy can be implemented (see fundamental #5), you must determine the level of responsibility of wireless for each department involved in the process. For example, the telecom department may be responsible for keeping inventories and contracts up to date, whereas accounting may be responsible for auditing bills and dealing with employee issues, carriers and billing. Upper level management may take a more passive role or maybe choose to oversee the entire wireless department. On the other hand, perhaps the entire wireless area will fall under the watchful eye of the IT or telecom departments. Wherever you choose to assign responsibility, be sure that each department is regularly accountable for their function in the system. Ideally, each can serve as checks and balances for the other, keeping the wireless portion of the company running like a fine Swiss watch. Fundamental
#5 - Establish a Written Wireless Policy
The previous fundamentals of wireless cost management lead to one thing - establishing and distributing a company-wide written wireless policy. Having a written policy serves not only as the impetus and pivotal document for keeping wireless costs under control, but it also sends a clear message to employees that the corporation is serious about how wireless devices should be used and what usage will be paid for by the company. Keep this in mind when constructing your policy and determining "out-ofpolicy consumption" - it is virtually impossible to quantify and understand each and every wireless cost (i.e. call or use) when scattered among dozens or even hundreds
of expense reports. This is the reason fundamental #4 is so important get those contracts into the company name as soon as possible. Your written wireless policy should include specifics on how and when wireless devices can and should be used - including any penalties for "out-of-policy" usage. Fundamental #6 - Consult an Expert
on Wireless Management
companies that have no wireless cost management programs in place, the thought of mastering the above concepts can seem a bit overwhelming. They sound great in theory, but actually putting these fundamentals into practice can be another story. If your company currently has a wireless cost management program in place, you may simply need to fine tune it. If not, consider consulting with a wireless cost management expert to complete the task for you. The cost-savings will more than pay for consulting fees incurred, and the long term savings will be substantial. Outsourcing your entire wireless management (even bill paying) can be very cost-effective and free up staff to focus on core business activities.
Karen Thatcher is President and CEO of TelCon Associates, Inc. TelCon Associates has been helping companies of all sizes reduce and manage telecommunications costs for more than 35 years. Visit http://www.telconassociates.com for free resources on managing your corporate telecom department more effectively.
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Karen_Thatcher
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