Auditing local and long distance services is challenging for a variety of reasons.  This is especially true where local/LD is decentralized, which tends to be the case within most organizations.  There are numerous hurdles to work past such as: who are the carriers, what are the services being provided, where are the services being invoiced, is local service invoiced separately from the local distance and if so are the invoices going to the same place?  Other considerations to think about include: Do I need everything I am paying for?  Am I using what I am paying for optimally?  Are there other services available that would better suit our business?  The list goes on, and it is difficult to identify where and how to begin to answer these types of questions, but there are a few strategies and key factors to consider when approaching this type of telecommunications audit.

One of the most significant challenges about local/LD auditing is that the spend is typically spread extremely thinly across many facilities, carriers and invoices with very little record keeping along the way to ease management.  Further, many of the services are ordered and/or intended to be disconnected, ad hoc which means even more small invoices and even less clarity about the service.  Likewise, when a circuit or line or feature is no longer needed, how often is it appropriately disconnected and sought through to ensure it stops billing within the next bill cycle?  Not often.  So there are many many invoices out there with relatively small overall costs attached and so the reward for the audit effort required to cleanup this type of spend appears marginal.  However, small pieces add up.  In most cases, circuit and line inventory can be reduced by 35% and may even go as high as 90%+ which adds up to significant savings and substantial reduction in management burden.

In order to achieve results like those mentioned above, a thorough and carefully managed audit is required.  The key elements of a telecommunications audit are:

  1. Data gathering:  This is the most critical step as it identifies the services you are paying for provides you with the information required to make decisions about how to cleanup inventory.  The data you are looking for includes: carrier invoices, contracts, customer service records, internal records of lines (faxes, modems, alarms, conference bridges, monitors, users, etc.), list of extensions, PBX programming including trunk groups, routing patterns, and ARS tables.  Additional information that can supplement this is carrier usage reports and  tone and tag completed by the LEC onsite to physically show where lines come into the building.

  2. Inventory identification: This process involves creating a table of services which demonstrates the circuits, lines, trunks, usage, features, costs, and invoice/account information of all telecommunications services you are being billed for.  This will provide a detailed snapshot of your services from which you can create network diagram.

  3. Network diagram: The network diagram allows you to visually process which services are in place and where.  This supplemented by the inventory begins to tell the story of how your various services are working together and where there may be superfluous services or where services can be used better.

  4. PBX vendor:  If there is no onsite or internal PBX expert to help with an audit, it is worth engaging your vendor of choice to assist with providing and reviewing the programming of your PBX(es) for cross reference with your network diagram and inventory.  This can sometimes uncover services which are billing but are not connected to equipment.  Likewise, your vendor can help to double check your inventory against the services that are delivered to, and cross connected at the DMARC.  It's possible services are not even entering the building or are not connected to anything once inside of the billing.

  5. Usage analysis: Finally, it will be important to observe the quantity of users are each location as well as the usage coming from that location to better understand your trunking requirements.  There are strategies for trimming back your inventory to better suit your usage trending which rely on this type of information to optimize your configuration and spend.

By involving the above factors in your audit, you very well can identify significant savings and  decrease the time and resource required to manage your telecom spend and infrastructure significantly.  In many cases, telecom spend that has not been audited in 3 years can result in over 40% savings.  For help auditing your local and long distance telecommunications spend, contact Source One Management Services, LLC.

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David Pastore

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