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Managing Your Company's Wireless Assets

Although the use of wireless phones has become more and more prevalent over the last several years, the business world is just catching on to the many benefits of going wireless beyond telephone service. Today's wireless features offer much more than just a telephone connection by providing on-line applications, mobile-to-mobile two-way radio type features, messaging and calendar options.

With all these features, employees can work from any location and this seems to be a growing trend. However, problems arise in keeping track of devices, users, plans and managing costs. Research shows that if you are not continuously managing your wireless spending, you could be overspending by more than 25%.

Managing your business's wireless telephone service, including all the newest features, can be complicated however, so this article will explore some of the basics of managing your company's wireless telephone service.

Whether you choose to manage your wireless spending yourself or outsource to a telecom management company, the first step to taking control of your wireless spending is to know your current usage. This includes number of users, location of the users, types of devices used, and the patterns of users. Armed with this information, you can start to optimize your wireless assets.

Some areas of optimization include getting discounts on service options, pooling phone minutes, early termination clauses, and commitment levels.

Many companies let their employees choose their own device and service plan and then reimburse them individually for their costs. This usually results in the company paying the highest rates offered and they have no control over the employee's choices. Other companies give company phones to their employees, and the company is billed under one corporate rate. And usually, there are multiple vendors because of geographic demands, the need for specific devices, or inherited accounts.

You want to make sure that the wireless contracts you negotiate are advantageous for your company and will hold up over time. You have to have a partnership with your provider, especially since you don't want to be switching providers every year. Flexibility without penalties is something to strive for. You don't want to be stuck in a rate plan that won't fit after your company's needs change over time. Adding or decreasing pool plan minutes without penalty is one example of this flexibility.

Reviewing your bills each month is critical, particularly in the first few months after you have signed up for new service. Make sure you understand every single line item, and if you don't, get your provider to explain what doesn't make sense. Make sure you are not getting hit with any hidden charges, or that the level of use is not more than you anticipated, making it necessary to bump your plan up to a little higher level of service.

Monthly wireless expense management will also allow you to find services and devices that aren't being used, or aren't being used to their fullest potential, adding certain plan features like text messaging to accounts that need it, or adding or reducing minutes to accounts that go over or under the monthly allowance.

Track your wireless telephone expenditures for at least the first year to identify trends in usage. Do your employees use the phone more during certain seasons or busy times of the year? Are there periods where your company experiences a lot of down time and when you don't need quite so much service? If so, get your sales rep on the phone and see what he or she can do to reduce services (and the cost to you) during such slow periods.

Finally, educate your employees as to how you expect them to use their company phones. If you have unlimited minutes, and don't mind your staff using their phones for personal use, then let them know that. If, however, you are charged by the minute, you will want to firmly instill in your personnel how their company-issued telephone is to be used. Providing your staff with an overview of your business's telecom expense management system, and a simple list of dos and don'ts when issuing them their phone (and maybe even having them sign a statement that they understand), can go a long way towards preventing misuse and added charges.

If you would rather concentrate on your business, you can hire a Telecom Expense Management (TEM) firm to manage your wireless spending. These TEM providers can offer assistance in crafting your company's wireless policies and overseeing your provider's charges. Qualified TEM experts can check that your carrier is charging the correct rates, giving equipment discounts, correcting taxes, fees and surcharges and making sure you are only paying for services you are using.

Companies spend a large potion of their telecom budget on wireless devices and services. With the growing trend of employees working from anywhere but the office, these costs can only increase. Arduous management of these assets is an important part of a company's operation. And in some cases, outsourcing the management of wireless assets will provide a significant return on investment.


Nermine Shaker has generated tens of millions of dollars worth of savings for her clients. She is a Partner at THE SYGNAL GROUP, a Telecoms Management Company that offers unbiased reporting, analysis and implementation of telecom strategies to businesses of all sizes.

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