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5 Questions to Ask When Choosing a Telecom Consulting Firm

With all the different aspects involved in telecommunications for today's businesses, hiring a telecom consultant firm is a necessity. With the advent of computers and high-speed Internet, there are many choices for a company's telecom needs. It is important not only to keep up to date on the latest telecom technology but also to do so in the most cost-effective way; otherwise, a company will lose out in today's competitive market.

Telecommunications consultants can help your company reduce expenses, update your services and also provide ongoing support. When looking for a telecom expense management company or a telecom consulting firm for a specific project, you should keep the following questions in mind.

How Long Have They Been In Business And How Big Is Their Company?

A good telecom consultant should be up to date on all the latest technology in order for you to make the best choices for your company. There are resources on the Internet to check on a consulting firm. The Better Business Bureau has a website that allows you to check companies that have had complaints or lawsuits against them. A consumer website called ripoffreport.com has search capabilities that allow you to look up a company that may have consumer complaints against it.

What Is Their Area Of Telecom Expertise?

When looking for the right telecom consulting firm, you will want to know what areas they specialize in. The subject of telecommunications covers a broad spectrum. Once you know what you're looking for - telecom auditing, expense management, possible migration to VoIP, upgrading equipment or services - you can look for a firm that specializes in that area.

Do They Have References Or Case Studies?

Testimonials from former clients as well as present ones are helpful. Knowing past and present clients helps you establish how much work the firm can handle and how it handles it. A number of customers who are pleased with a firm's work says a lot about a firm's character and the people who work there. Knowing who the firm's clients are on a continual basis is also helpful. If clients return for business, it shows the firm is reliable and has satisfied customers.

Do They Represent Any Vendors Or Sell Any Products?

You should ask the telecom consulting firm if they use specific products made by a particular seller or if they sell that seller's products. You should also ask them if they sell any of their own products. If a firm sells another vendor's products, they probably raise the price a little to build in a profit for themselves, much like mechanics who buy a part from an auto parts store. If the firm sells their own products, the prices will probably be more competitive; however, if you have the expertise, you might want to check into getting your own materials once you know what is needed and let the consulting firm do the installation.

In addition to possible price increases for profits, if you are quoted an inexpensive price, you might be getting involved with a company that receives commissions for products or services they recommend. Your telecom consulting firm should be unbiased and should be acting in your best interest - that means that they shouldn't be recommending their own carriers or services. That's why it's important to know if your telecom consultant represents any providers or vendors.

What Are Their Fees?

Once you decide who is taking care of the materials, the next step is to get the consulting firm's prices. There are a few ways that consulting firms collect fees - hourly or daily, by project or by contingency.

A project can be billed hourly or by the day and often includes consultants' expenses. A fee-based project is a set amount of money paid to do a set project. Contingency based means that the payment is based on savings to the client. For telecom auditing, this is the most popular - the consultants get a percentage of the money they save the client.

There are also some arrangements for consultants that stay on, working on a continuing basis to monitor equipment and allowing for continuous improvement. You would need to know their fees for this service if it's one you are interested in pursuing. You may want to be wary of a consultant who asks for a large upfront retainer or advance payments. Your consultant should want to work with your company for the best possible solution for you.

Before choosing a telecom-consulting firm, it is important to get all of these questions answered to your satisfaction. A good analysis of your own company including what your goals are would be of benefit to decide what type of telecom systems you need. For instance, whether your company provides products and/or services locally or globally would make a difference on what installations are required. If you are local and want to expand, that could affect the system used as well. You want to get a consulting firm that is expert in the goals you are trying to achieve; one that will save you money in the long run by helping you improve what you have, or establish a profitable system to start with. You will want to decide what services you need and find a reputable firm that provides those services.

Nermine Shaker is a Partner at THE SYGNAL GROUP, a telecom consulting firm that offers telecom expense management, telecom auditing and VoIP management to businesses of all sizes. Find out how to lower your telecom expenses at www.SygnalGroup.com/ or visit our blog at www.TelecomExpertise.com/

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