Business communications technology has evolved, with smartphones now the device of choice for many — perhaps most — workers around the world. As a result, telecom expense management (TEM) practices must evolve as well.

TEM traditionally referred to the tools and practices organizations employed to centrally manage fixed telecom voice, data and assets in order to control expenses, correct errors and improve related processes throughout the communications lifecycle. Mobile voice introduces some complexity into the TEM process because of the many new ways it can create expenses — including roaming charges, excessive data usage, increased mobile application purchases and device proliferation.

Although the desk phone remains a valued business tool, analysts say user demand will likely result in more and more communications functions shifting to mobile platforms in the near term. A new study from collaboration solutions provider PGi found that nearly half of mobile users expect to use smartphones for unified communications and collaboration (UC&C) services in the next few years.

With this increase in mobile communications, organizations need to actively improve their visibility into mobile telecom expenses. However, there are indications that many organizations are still focused almost entirely on auditing and analyzing their fixed telecom invoices. In a CIMI Corp. survey, 70 percent of the business responding said they were managing their telecom expenses successfully. However, when they were asked if they were managing their mobile telecom expenses effectively, 75 percent admitted they were not.

In addition to creating new classes of expenses, increased mobile usage complicates expense management because many different devices are usually involved, many of them owned by users, with multiple service types and charges. That means there are many different bills from different providers being presented to the company for payment or reimbursement.

This adds more complexity to a practice that was already very confusing. Complicated billing practices, hard-to-understand contracts, billing errors, late-payment penalties and other factors contribute to ballooning costs. Industry surveys consistently show that these factors routinely lead to overpayment rates ranging from 3 percent to 10 percent.

That level of waste is simply not sustainable. To effectively manage both fixed and mobile communications across the entire organization, there must be a system for regularly collecting critical information, organizing and analyzing the data, managing expenses and optimizing spending. That’s why TEM is one of the key services IPC offers our customers.

Our consultants work with you to determine exactly what services, devices and contracts you have, why you have them, how much they cost, what benefits they deliver, and whether or not you’re being overcharged. We will then recommend ways you can eliminate unnecessary or redundant services, consolidate contracts and optimize mobile usage. We can also help you take advantage of cloud-based management portals to gain deeper insight into your telecom assets.

Effective communication is essential to any organization, but inefficient billing practices can lead to excessive waste. An outside consultant such as IPC can help you bring your mobile and fixed telecom expenses under control by identifying opportunities to reduce costs and complexity, consolidate services and infrastructure, and simplify telecom expense management.