In the wireless world, your usage drives the plans you buy, which in turn, drives your wireless spend. Squeezing every last drop of usage out of that spend takes some leg-work. Admittedly, it’s not easy, but it can add up to significant savings. If you’re starting from scratch, or just about scratch, it will take a large upfront time investment if you have a large number of users. The good thing is it will pay for itself. Once you have the right program in place, it just takes periodic maintenance after that.

There are two ways to go about getting your users’ usage: pour over the invoices or get a downloadable report from your wireless provider. Some providers are much better than others at making this information available. Intentional? Not only just providing it, but providing a respectable level of detail. Again, intentional? Did someone say conspiracy theory? Some times, you have no choice but to get your hands dirty and pull out the paper.

Until I say “stop”, everything I type from here will assume one wireless provider with all users consolidated and sharing minutes. I just want to keep things simple for now.

The main items you want are how many peak minutes have the users/company bought, and how many did they use. Most plans descriptions will have the number of minutes bought, and there’s also usually some table with minutes available and minutes used in a usage table per user. CD ROMs and online reporting should (emphasis on should) have these figures available. Once you’ve found this:

  • Spreadsheet the peak minutes bought and used for each user for the most recent three months at least
  • If the business is cyclical, try to capture the three or four peak months
  • Take a cigarette break
  • Take an average of the peak minutes used
  • Compare this to how many minutes are available
  • If average usage is less than 85% of available minutes, you’re over-subscribed
  • If average usage is more than 90% of available minutes, buy more
  • If average usage is more than 100% of available minutes, you’re in trouble. Remember that analogy to herpes I made in my last post?

If you’re over 100%, unless you have a roll-over plan, you hit the big-O; overage. Overage charges are usually easily seen on the individual user’s usage summary sheet. It may say something like “billable”, “voice charges”, “usage adjustment”. It can also be gleaned from the front page of the bill. If you see any exorbitant amount of charges for “Usage Charges; Voice” or “Cellular Services”, etc, unless everyone makes a ton of 411 calls, it can be safe to assume there is overage.

Stop. Ok, here’s an important caveat. Just because all users may be with one provider and they’re all under corporate liability, doesn’t mean they are all sharing minutes. It’s not uncommon for people to be added to a corporate profile of sharing users yet be subscribed to an individual plan. As you’re checking plans (for providers where it’s not just one big bucket) look for the word “share” in the plan name and look for that or some other indication in the usage box.

This will have two implications in your analysis. First, you have to take those non-sharing users’ minutes out of your calculation of total minutes available. Those minutes are only available to that person and that person only. If that individual user is in overage, stop the bleeding and get them minutes immediately. Don’t wait for that person to be absorbed into the pool.

Here I thought I would get into plans but I already wrote a book just on usage. Next time I promise to get to plans. Now that you know what the deal is with usage and you know your needs, you’ll have a better idea of what to look for when shopping for plans.

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Jazzy Sourcer

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