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Why Your Business Needs A Telecom Audit

There is a very clear reason that so many new technologies appear every year - new technologies help keep businesses competitive and successful. As computers grow ever more capable and inexpensive, businesses continue to take advantage of them. This causes the tech industry to continually come up with new models, in an incredibly profitable feedback loop.

The same phenomenon has begun in the world of business communication. In addition to the classic hard line telephone and radio systems, there are now digital phone options, voice mail, videoconferences, email, and many more options. If a business needs to communicate, the world of telecom offers a solution to their specific need.

I Can Do What With My Telephone?!

Of course, every new technology brings new problems and challenges. Much as computers introduced a whole range of compatibility issues and headaches for early adopters, modern telecom technologies have raised a range of new issues.

Relatively few members of any organization actually understand the specific workings of any one telecom system in their office, let alone how the entire system operates. A lack of understanding about any one portion can directly impact the company's bottom line.

That's Not How We Do It

This issue affects larger businesses in particular. A small, local baker really only needs a simple phone line and voice mail system, for example. An interstate or international corporation, on the other hand, needs an entire phone system for each of its offices, and perhaps a larger network tying them all together. This kind of effort requires not only a major investment, but it rarely develops all at once.

Businesses acquire other companies, adopting their offices and existing equipment, and occasionally the communications contracts they've already signed. This creates an inherent difficulty in oversight and control over the communications network, and can be a source of costs that a business shouldn't have to pay.

For those companies that don't want to keep ignoring - and paying for - the problems, there is an alternative; the professional telecommunications audit, (similar to the concept of a tax audit but without the pain and fear). Simply put, a telecom audit is a professional, thorough review of an entire telecommunications network, encompassing billing and contracts as well as data integrity and security, efficiency, and policy.

Specifically, a telecom audit can cover three general areas. First is the review of records and information. This portion of the audit covers areas like data integrity (ascertaining if the information is being stored and archived properly, for easy and long term access) and data security (is the information accessible to people it shouldn't be?), and can include recommended policy revisions for better performance.

Next is a review of the technologies themselves, and whether adopting an alternative system might improve matters. Finally there is the review of the financial side, ranging from the obvious (comparing different phone contracts for pricing and options) to the esoteric (tariffs and call volume versus network capability). Not every audit will include every portion. As mentioned in the bakery example, not every business has the same telecom needs.

The Devil That You Know vs. the Devil That You Don't

The defining reason to get a telecom audit is one of information. Auditors don't come in and solve a business' communications problems; they simply review the procedures and options currently in place and make recommendations on how to improve the state of things compared to how it exists. Frequently, some of their findings aren't related to external matters. A department could be losing customers because employees are not filing customer contact information properly, leading to longer wait times and missed calls or appointments, and an audit could catch this.

The advantage lies in having an independent, external audit when possible. This doesn't imply wrongdoing on the part of internal users, or anyone attempting deception. Simple familiarity with a system could prevent a user from seeing that they aren't using it to the best of its capability, and an outside pair of eyes can provide an impartial, expanded view.

Communication is the lifeblood of the modern economy. It doesn't matter how critical a piece of information is, nothing is gained if it is not communicated to the proper audience. As businesses grow more and more dependent on advanced telecommunications systems, new problems will emerge. Every system develops difficulties as it grows more complex, a fact of nature that cannot be avoided. A professional, independent telecom audit is a useful tool that can identify these problems, and allow a successful business to take steps to maximize their communications potential and their bottom line.

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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