Once again, you’re looking for ways to cut overhead costs. A telecom audit could help you save big, but where do you start?
In the most basic terms, a telecom audit looks at your spending for your communications equipment, calling plans, and internet service plans. This includes your phones, networking hardware, wireless device plans, landline plans, internet plans, and cable TV if you have that in your office. Anything that people in your office use for communications of any kind is up for grabs. And chances are, you can find ways to save while keeping the same levels of service and functionality.
Why Your Business Should Conduct a Telecom Audit
Most businesses don’t think about their telecom bills. When bills come in they generally get paid without question… After all, your business would not operate at all without communication. But when you take a long, hard look at what you’re spending on your telecom equipment and usage, it can be eye-opening.
Suppose you looked on your AT&T bill and saw an expenditure for $250.00 for wireless service plans? You know that you have five company iPads and they each have a wireless plan through AT&T at $25.00 per month. But that is only $125.00 per month. Why is the bill double? Because of the audit, you discover that when you upgraded everyone into new iPads six months ago, the auto-renewal plans on the old iPads never got canceled. So those five units have been sitting on a shelf in the utility closet costing your company $125.00 a month!
That may sound crazy, but industry experts say 80 percent of your telecom bill includes billing errors, services you don’t use, and taxes you don’t owe. That’s right. 80 percent.
That is why doing a telecom audit is so important to your business. One little oversight in monitoring your service plans can end up costing your company big dollars in the long run. In our fictitious example above, the company lost $750.00 over a six-month period because of one small oversight.
What a Telecom Audit Evaluates
A complete telecom audit will evaluate every aspect of your business that relates to communications. That can include contracts, internal data, and even customer service records (CSRs). An audit will double-check that all billing for communication services matches contract specifications. It will ensure that each bill complies with appropriate state, local, and national taxes and fees. The audit will verify no included unnecessary and usury surcharges.
Telecom service usage will be analyzed to make sure that services being paid for are being utilized by your team. It will make sure that your service level meets your needs on all levels. An audit will include interviews with your staff. Information gathered includes how they use their equipment, data plans, and what they need regarding communications for the job.
If your business has a brick and mortar facility, it probably has a landline. Many businesses today operate solely online and have no need for this amenity. If your business does have a landline, those services also require evaluation.
Many companies that offer landline services offer free and unlimited long distance calling. If your plan is several years old, your billing for long distance calls may be at a per minute rate. That is an unnecessary expense. For a smaller monthly fee, converting to their newer unlimited plans can save a lot.
Cell Phone Audits and Wireless Device Plans
Ongoing monitoring of telecom services will also keep your business operating at rates that are in conformance with the fair market average. When a company goes years between audits, they may be paying higher monthly fees for a service that has seen market reductions.
Cell phones are a prime example of this. When the company signed the deal for $100 per month per phone that may have been a good rate. Since then, cell phone plan pricing has dropped significantly and combining five phones under one plan for $100 per month can save $400 per month.
If your business relies on cellular communication, having the best available plan fees can result in big annual savings.
Cable Audit and Internet Access
Not all businesses have television cable services, but they do have cable internet services. The internet has become integral to almost every aspect of business. Having a good service is one of the most important items on your telecom list. Personnel use email, online conference calling and Skype, GoToMeeting services. Online services require fast, seamless internet service. Gone are the days of slow, dial-up connections.
If your company relies on news or other updates from cable TV, that is still within the area of communications. If you are a delivery service that needs traffic or weather updates, you might tune into a TV station set up to monitor those conditions. That is one-way communication. Interactive communication, such as phone calls and internet services, searches, and email are two-way communications. Many businesses rely on both one-way and two-way methods of communications.
Companies need instant results from online searches and connections that don’t drop every few words during a Skype or other teleconference. Understanding the needs of your company is the first step in streamlining your cable and internet access billing. Any cable audit should include a usage analysis and interviews with personnel. A thorough cable audit ensures that cable or internet access plans fulfill all the needs of your business.
How a Telecom Audit Reduces Costs
Through the audit, cost reduction comes by way of optimizing service plans. An audit will identify overpayments, billing errors, and unused service options. Rather than continuing with “the same old plan,” changes can be made to streamline services with less expensive alternatives. The experts at ComView report:
Studies indicate that typical billing errors range anywhere from 12-20%, the vast majority of the errors being in the carriers’ favor.
By consolidating services at a corporate level, rather than at each individual site, better deals for services under group rates will reduce costs. By monitoring service agreements, you can determine a carrier’s fulfillment of your agreement faster. Unused and unnecessary features eliminated from service plans save you money. Potential duplicate charges will be spotted, as well as billing for equipment no longer in use.
Once you have conducted your telecom audit, you will have a list of upgrades and improvements for implementation. You might not see improvements overnight, but the exchanges in the annual bottom line for your business. Whether you conduct your audit as a do-it-yourself (DIY) project or through a consultant, the changes you make in how your business handles telecom will save money.
Doing it Yourself vs. Hiring a Consultant.
There are benefits to hiring a consultant to conduct a telecom audit, especially if you have a larger business. A consultant has a prepared list of areas they will check and evaluate. They have done these before so they will easily pinpoint things that might get overlooked in a DIY audit. Professional auditing services know exactly what to look for and where the largest savings hide. They will also explain their results and make recommendations for specific areas.
A DIY telecom audit is a perfect solution for smaller businesses. Smaller companies rely on telecom services as much as larger businesses. Because of their size it might not be cost-effective to hire a professional firm. Start with a list of all your communication activity — including email, cell phones, internet access, cable, faxes, landlines — anything that conveys information in or out of your business. This should include one-way and two-way communication.
Implementing a Plan Based on Your Audit Results
After a telecom audit, your company will implement a plan based on the audit results. If you used an outside consulting firm, they will present a plan. If you conducted a DIY audit, you are responsible for developing your own plan. Either way, the plan will include service changes that should be made to streamline what you are getting in service packages.
This might be as simple as combining your landline service into your cable access plan, or as complicated as obtaining upgraded cellular phones for 50 people. Your plan will need to include who is responsible for the implementation and a timeline to have changes made. If there are a lot of changes, you’ll also want to assure personnel briefing on the changes. Implementation should be an all-hands event.
In-house telecom audits should be conducted every six months to verify correct billings for services. This will allow your business to track savings also. Since the majority of telecom expenditure overages are from inaccurate billing, monitoring telecom bills is one of the best ways to save money on telecom expenses.
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