The current COVID-19 pandemic we are all experiencing right now has put some hefty financial burden on many businesses. Companies are therefore looking at or have already taken extreme measures to minimize financial loss, ensure ongoing profitability, and at least guarantee job security. However, some companies are being overly reactive without any strategic direction or planning to continue to procure critical business needs while maintaining the resources necessary to preserve operations. Every day I hear about pay cuts, layoffs, or employee furloughs along with service disconnections and supplier contract terminations.

Coming from a procurement perspective, I suggest taking a more proactive and thought-out position that produces the same objective, considers EVERYONE, and will not negatively affect your business or your employee’s well-being. Therefore, I have identified a few recommendations regarding your telecommunications and IT services and supplier partnerships that could be deployed holistically throughout the business and will result in lowered expenses and the ability to “keep the lights on”.

Most companies have elected or have been mandated to implement work from home policies. That means ensuring employees have the tools and communication resources available at home to be productive and that the business has the bandwidth allowing users to be connected. In return, this should limit the need for specific services at your physical place of business such as basic phone, internet, or cable TV. However, in the expectation we will resume “business as usual” in the near future, you would not want to disconnect the service completely or terminate your supplier relationships. So where does that leave you

Talk to your suppliers. Everyone is going through some type of shift in business models and ability to maintain profitability not to mention stay afloat. Telco companies are more than willing to work with you and offer options to address your concerns without the need to turn down service completely.

  • Interim discounts or price concessions: One-time credits, recurring discounts, or price concessions will help you lower monthly costs while allowing suppliers continued revenue.
  • Temporary suspensions: Suspension without billing, for a period of time, negates the need to disconnect now and activate later where new activation charges or delay in activation may occur.
  • Implement provisional services: As bandwidth requirements will surely fluctuate take advantage of flex services that allow you to turn-up and turn-down on the fly where billing is measured based on actual need versus fixed at potentially a higher recurring cost.
  • Loaner/refurbished products: Instead of purchasing new hardware to accommodate all WFH employees, ask about renting devices versus big dollar purchases even if short-term contracts are needed or look at buying low-cost refurbished hardware that will get the job done.
All of the above considerations can be leveraged within most areas of the business and can not only address immediate issues but help build stronger supplier relationships and prepare you for the future. For example, when revisiting contracts, consider adding in flexibility and clauses that may address these types of situations in the future; hopefully nothing this extreme but along the lines of temporary business impacting events. Regarding the flex service approach, although it might not be viable now based on potential long-term install timelines, it might become feasible during your next contract renewal or service upgrade.

I leave you with this thought; we are all suffering to some degree right now so work collaboratively and be mindful of how your decisions may impact your business, your employees, and your customers.

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Leigh Merz

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