The rate of change in technology-focused industries is giving some businesses a feeling of whiplash. But whether your company is caught in the confusion of trying to wrangle telecom expenses in-house or stuck in an unhappy marriage with their current technology expense management (TEM) provider, it may be time to consider something new.
Many enterprises have one or more of these existing systems challenges:
- Inaccurate inventory
- Slow manual processes
- Rigid/unsatisfactory reporting (or even spreadsheets)
- Lags in supporting new technologies (cloud, IoT) and trends
- Inability to centralize/integrate various stages of the technology lifecycle
- Inability to deal with international expense management (languages, exchange rates, laws)
- Different non-integrated platforms for each country the enterprise operates in
And these resource and relationship challenges:
- Slow response to issues
- Fail to meet agreed deadlines
- Are inflexible and fail to conform to the unique needs of the organization
Solving these challenges is critical for controlling expenses and increasing efficiency.
Selecting or working with a TEM provider should never be a cause of stress or create a burden for your IT team. TEM providers are now leveraging new technology and automation to create stress-relieving, intelligence-generating expense management platforms that go well beyond transactional details and cost savings.
If you are considering selecting a new TEM provider or switching from your old one, here are several points worth considering.
Refresh Your TEM Goals and Objectives
Are you looking for some simple cost savings, or do you want your TEM system to cut out labor-intensive tasks, drive and support enterprise wide policies and processes, and provide flexible global reporting with access to granular details – helping you understand the total cost of ownership (TCO) of your global technologies and identify opportunities for optimization. TEM can help you cut costs and improve productivity as a trusted centralized repository and control center of all information about your technology estate.
To analyze your company’s goals and objectives, first, take a quick step back and return to the basics of technology expense management. It is important to be aware of the reality that many TEM relationships between user and provider get off on the wrong foot. If this scenario sounds familiar, it is likely that either your TEM provider, IT team, or a combination of both may have begun their engagement by pursuing the wrong strategic goals and objectives.
Perhaps your team fixates its attention on granular cost savings thresholds or streamlining expense management procedures. If they bog themselves down in these transactional details, then, overwhelmingly, they are missing the point and missing out on the major benefits a well-oiled TEM platform has to offer.
If your TEM provider isn’t focused on expense management, then what purpose do they serve and how can they achieve the necessary cost savings? A TEM provider should concern themselves with all of these points.
Instead of your team obsessing over detailed metrics and populating spreadsheets, your TEM provider’s primary focus should be on helping you enroll your organization and leverage the data and operational efficiencies.
Your TEM provider should help you get buy-in from your stakeholders and help them agree on the requirements for your TEM system. At the start, the program should enable you to focus on your immediate priorities.
Then, your TEM provider should use the data generated throughout the expense management process to develop insights—real, actionable insights—that drive innovation and support organizational change.
Because, let’s face it, if we are to take on face value the 97 percent of CIOs who say their IT departments are ill-equipped to keep pace with the rate of change in the tech industry, then leveraging insight to help companies adapt to their changing landscapes is or should be the number one objective for technology expense management providers.
Take a Relentlessly Strategic Approach to TEM
Your TEM engagement should go beyond processing invoices and measuring cost savings. A progressive TEM platform should provide continuous business intelligence to help steward your IT leadership through their decision making.
Companies looking to get the most out of their TEM platform now have the opportunity to harness smart systems that utilize data received at different stages of the TEM lifecycle and as a result of processing large numbers of invoices and turns that data into intelligence.
Calero-MDSL's award-winning dashboards, for instance, are an example of a smart TEM system that enables management teams to configure data into tables, charts, and visualizations readily usable across multiple verticals of an organization. Rather than simply acting as a repository for invoice data, our visually appealing dashboards and other smart TEM systems optimize information from areas throughout a business, encompassing in some cases all technology expenditures, to give not only management-level employees but also c-suite members insight into the operational health of their overall engagement with technology.
In that regard, a properly optimized TEM platform can become an enterprise-level planning tool and fully-integral technology management system that enables far more than cost savings for your IT department.
Buy into A Necessary Culture Shift
In order to embrace this new concept of what a TEM solution can be and what it can provide, companies need to buy into a cultural shift, changing the way they conceive of technology use across departments and business verticals and even considering making investments in new technologies that make such integration possible.
Businesses should convert their TEM engagement from an “excessively tactical exercise with little strategic relevance” to a purpose-driven insights generator optimized to deliver business intelligence in real time. At the same time, they must make sure that they have the technology and personnel in place to make this implementation take root.
Implementation That Lasts
After placing so much emphasis on strategic thinking, redesigning your TEM engagement, and committing to a company-wide culture shift around tech usage, you need to stick the landing on your implementation.
By ensuring transparency across your company’s technology outlay and consolidating your business intelligence into its easy-to-use system of smart dashboards, Calero-MDSL takes the burden off of IT departments and reduces the need for expensive intermediaries to carry out complex expense and service management responsibilities. Multiply this benefit across an entire company, and you can see how easily the value of an evolved TEM solution exists beyond simple cost savings.
Finding the Right TEM PlatformIdentify your immediate priorities and enroll your stakeholders to help them agree on the requirements for a TEM system. Example priorities include:
- cost savings
- cutting labor-intensive tasks
- driving and supporting enterprise wide policies and processes
- providing flexible global reporting with access to granular details
- helping you understand the total cost of ownership (TCO) of your global technologies
- identifying opportunities for optimization.
This will enable you to leverage TEM as a trusted centralized repository and control center of all information about your technology estateIdentify the right TEM Partner/Vendor
Only consider those who can help you with:
- Scope, track record and implementation expertise.Identify vendors with a proven track record in dealing with enterprises facing the same challenges as your own. Can they provide references? Do they have customers of a similar size and geographical footprint? Can they deal with different languages, exchange rates, laws, country-specific vendors? In a single system? Do they have experience in migrating vendors from other providers (and specifically your provider?) Do they have trusted and effective processes in place to migrate you as quickly as possible and achieve return on investment in the shortest possible time frame?
- Technology platform and integrations.Look for a provider with an agile, comprehensive platform. You want your TEM vendor to integrate and share information with your other systems, cutting out manual updates and adding value at every stage of the technology lifecycle.
- Closed loop between your TEM inventory and your other systems.Look to work with a provider that can tie procurement and systems together for you, including integrations with existing systems (e.g. Service Now) and direct integrations with vendors for services such as ebonding.
- Ordering portals.Consider a provider who can offer an ordering portal for employees to acquire new devices and services on a self-serve bases which speeds the process and cuts out the middleman, reducing workload on your IT teams.
- TEM support.Make sure the provider offers automated invoice processing, cost allocation, flexible, self-service reporting (e.g. smart dashboards) which display accurate, up to date information, accounting and payment and customized contract renewals.
- Future support.Ensuring your provider can manage emerging technologies like IoT, Cloud, IT assets is a critical consideration given the rate of change in business today.
Commit to the Future of TEM
If your business is still chained to the old way of managing its technology expenses, especially fixed and mobile telecom, you could be funneling massive amounts of revenue down the drain. Legacy billing systems, alone, have an estimated error rate of between 12 and 20 percent. When companies fully implement a smart TEM system, the savings can end up well beyond 20 percent.