As you may or may not recall, my previous post on audit telecommunications provided some insight into the data collection required to properly audit telecommunications spend, contracts, and infrastructure. In this post, I will elaborate on some of the creative ways you can use the data you collect to identify cost reduction opportunities and simplify inventory and invoicing going forward to avoid paying for superfluous facilities and unnecessary spending in the future.

By collecting all or even some of this information previously discussed and cross-referencing it amongst itself you will find that you will get a fairly solid understanding of your spend from your various carriers’ customer service records. But then you will notice you have missed a few invoices that ended up categorized as facilities in the general ledger and are signed off on by plant operations because they are dedicated to alarms, for example. Walking around the facility, you might find a lit smart jack (circuit point of entry into your building) for an old Internet T1 you have not used since the company upgraded the network and centralized Internet service at headquarters. The person paying that invoice had no idea it should have been disconnected years ago. And so on.

Simply visiting the telecom closet and checking all the lit Smart Jacks might reveal an old circuit that is being paid by another department but has not been connected to anything in the building for years. Calling each phone number for each phone line that’s being billed could reveal dozens of lines that ring with no answer, many of which may not even be extended into the facility to a desk, or do not have a phone connected to the extension. Lines that are questionable but otherwise appear to be completely unused can be prudently eliminated by having it physically disconnected in the building at the point of entry before calling the phone company and ordering a formal disconnect. This way, if someone calls complaining their phone is not working, they can be quickly restored at no cost and with no risk of losing the number.

In addition to cleaning up the actual telecommunications resources, invoicing should be cleaned up, too. Unwanted third party charges, also known as cramming and slamming charges, tend to end up on invoices from time to time. How that happens is that the crammers call someone at your organization (or at least claimed they called) to get permission to add a charge to the invoice, such as a directory listing or to move the long distance service to their platform. Often, when removing and requesting credits on these third party charges, they will claim they have recorded proof that someone at the organization authorized them to make the change or add the charge, but unsurprisingly, they often have a bit of trouble finding the recording. When they are able to playback the recording, it is usually someone who is not authorized to make changes to telecommunications and can only vaguely be construed as permission to add the charge through some very creative interpretation. Regardless, these charges sometimes look legitimate but can add up quickly, especially if many local invoices exist.

The process of identifying and understanding the inventory can be somewhat slow and painful, but it is worth it. Inevitably, you will find a number of resources and charges that can be cleaned up and eliminated immediately which not only saves the company money each month going forward, but also makes auditing the invoicing against the contract simpler. Ideally new lines, circuits, and other services will be added under existing agreements and accounts. If other groups or individuals order outside of the established accounts in the future, your clean inventory and sound understanding of your spend will help you identify those new orders quickly so they may be tracked and optimal savings can be sustained without inventory creeping out of hand again.
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David Pastore

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