Tips For Planning A Wireless Expense Management Program
Tips for Planning a Wireless Expense Management ProgramGetting a firm grip on wireless expenses involves more than just implementing software.Many organisations have failed to make significant inroads into their wireless coststhrough buying a software tool but then failing to implement it correctly withexperienced employees, or more often than not relied on the network operator onlinetools. These give a much improved picture of the monthly bill, can be split acrossbusiness units, and do give access to a greater audience of cost controllers. However, aswith much data management, rubbish in gets rubbish out!If you are thinking seriously about addressing the costs of your wireless communicationsthere are other issues which cannot be ignored and must form part of your strategy.There are organizational and cultural changes to manage, asset selections to be made,network requirements, such as data speeds andcoverage, security issues, as well as thoroughprocess assessments and reviews to becompleted.A good Wireless Expense Management Programwhich will stand every chance of delivering up to30% cost reduction to the enterprise will need adedicated team, some external expertise, and atimeframe of up to 90 days to implement.Whilst this list is neither extensive nor exclusiveits important to keep several things in mindwhen embarking on a project to managewireless devices and expenses:Involve senior stakeholders from the start.While the IT department might take the lead in implementing wireless expensemanagement solutions, other divisions, such as finance, purchasing, hr and operations,are all affected by processes and policies, and should have a say in the project.Whilst the level of wireless spend is not always up for review at the Board level of mostUK plc, a deployment of a worthwhile wireless expense program will have impact on allemployees and it will involve change, therefore needing in most cases very seniorapproval and sign off. Whilst most WEM solutions will show a very quick ROI there is alsoa need for an initial budget for whatever solution or resources are utilised.You need that top-down commitment as implementing a worthwhile wireless expensemanagement strategy is a pretty big process change.In this authors experience the chief financial and information officers are often the mostsenior employees involved with the new wireless expense management initiatives.
Establish Goals and a measurement system.The only way to know if your program is working is by setting targets for key metrics,such as average cost per device and maximum spending per division.If organisations have decided to recover personal use costs from employees, thentargets should be set for the initial implementation and then onwards.Set goals that can be achieved at certain milestones, such as user take up in the first 3-6 months, then monitor these in a governance forum.Most importantly, if you are using external suppliers, ensure that built into their deliverymodel is at the very least a bi-annual review of goals and achievements, along with anySLA’s which were deemed crucial and built into the contract.Reputable WEM providers should have no issue demonstrating the value of any solutionon an annual basis. Do not forget to include end user satisfaction surveys in thegovernance process. As you have changed their working process in some way you needto monitor their satisfaction levels with any solution to make sure it has had a positiveimpact on moral and satisfaction.Create an internal communications program. Any new wireless management initiative needs to include apprising employees of the new wireless purchasing, ownership and usage policies, and how they will be impacted moving forwards. It is of paramount importance that individual employees and management understand what can and cannot be done with company assets. Consider deploying a systemwhich includes forced policy acceptance before initial use, and maintainingcommunications of any policy in a place where it can be easily accessed, the intranet orbetter still built into any online solution you deploy for user cost management.This may be a cultural shift for employees. In the past, employees may have selectedtheir own devices and tariffs with a managers consent. Some may have family plans andother benefits that were offered historically, others simply may not like having a limitedselection of devices, or may feel that they have gotten away with a nice little perk for fartoo long. This is a change process which cannot be underestimated and needs focus andresolve, and of course senior support.To overcome the cultural hurdles and inform the workforce about the new expenseprocess and wireless policies, the communications department should deliver an internalcommunications campaign, to educate employees and win them over to the new system.Most employees, especially in more austere times will accept, eventually, that anybusiness deploying well documented and proven processes to control wastage and costsis a business they would like to work for in the long run. This will help balance any shortterm feelings they may hold regarding the previous management process, or lack of.The campaign must include a consistent logo, e-mails explaining how the new systemwould save the company money. A Web portal ideally on the companys intranet, or anexternal provider’s online solution should be used to provide information about the newsystem and other changes required to deploy any new program.
Improve negotiation skills with wireless providers.Deploying a long term WEM solution allows organisations to take back control of theprocurement process.Information will be more available for trending and analysis, meaning, for possibly thefirst time, the organisation will know more about its requirements than their incumbentairtime provider.Understanding exactly what assets are currently being used, and more importantlyminimising the number of un used devices before entering into any new contract isparamount to achieving an optimal contract going forwards.Understanding calling patterns and tariff plans which are most used in the organisationwill allow procurement to focus on the really important tariffs maximising savings whereit matters most.Call on outside experts.Having an independent trusted adviser who is wholly focussed on your company goalswill be a massive help in implementing and running any WEM solution. When consideringany type of WEM solutions there are only really three options;Use internal resources and network billing toolsThe key here will be making sure the internalresources have the required experience and tools tomaintain user, asset, and cost centre databases whichwill allow them to make best use of network tools forviewing online bills. Most operators, at time of writing,have limited ability however to split the bill betweenbusiness and personal usage which often leavesemployees trawling through paper bills in order to re -compensate use or claim the business calls.Use internal resource and SaaS toolsWhilst WEM is a relatively new concept in the UK and Europe, TEM is a much moredeveloped market with many providers, often US based, offering solutions foroptimisation and control of fixed telecommunications costs. They have entered the WEMmarket with similar tools developed for mobile.Other providers have launched new wireless focussed tools which provide massivelyimproved visuals of the business bill, again relying on internal departments to make surethe information going into the system is correct.Outsource to a mobile management companyThis solution provides both typical WEM/TEM tools and service to take away the burdenof running any WEM program from the organisation. Online tools will be provided forbilling management, bills will be verified and corrected for errors, and users and querieswill be managed via a helpdesk.Whichever route is most suitable for your organisation each will still require an elementof expertise which does not usually reside in the IT department.
Understand your growth.Understanding how your organisation may grow, or how it may adopt new mobiletechnologies will be an important part of any WEM strategy, as part of your wider mobilemanagement strategy.Any solution needs to be future proofed for these new technologies and how they maybe adopted in the future. Mobile policies must be made current enough with changeprocedures included to capture any developments in technology or internal businessprocesses.Security issues must also be considered and included in a wider strategy asorganisations adopt more and more data centric devices and smart phones which replacestandard voice terminals at an increasing and alarming rate.Keep an eye on business needs.Limiting the number of available devices and standardising them is a good approach, butthe worst position for a company to be in is to have saved money ontelecommunications, only to end up with a major business gap.From a financial perspective, for example, Blackberry’s might be impractical; they costmore to purchase and support than mobile phones. However these devices have becomecritical business tools for many of today’s enterprise mobile workforces.Having a complete mobile management strategy is not just about containing costs. Youwant to be able to do it all, meeting the needs of the business, containing costs andproviding the best services. Its a balancing act.ConclusionsA good wireless expense management solution will analyse the entire telecom servicesinfrastructure of the enterprise as well as conduct detailed analysis for top ROI.There are a number of solutions to implementing wireless expense management,however often the right people with relevant wireless experience do not exist in theenterprise. Proper wireless expense management processes and services can make sure yourorganization is not throwing away profits on a regular basis on hidden billing errors andlimited management process for managing users and assets.