When big businesses are looking to cut waste and shave fixed expenses, telecommunications is one area which often goes overlooked – even as cost creeps up and services remain virtually unchanged.
“Many businesses tend to accept utility bills as they come, assuming there’s nothing they can do about it. A telecoms audit reveals key areas where you can save unnecessary costs,” said Franklyn Winder, director of NetworkOne, a business-to-business firm specializing in telecoms – IT infrastructure, business phone systems and consulting.
“Most times when a business requests an audit from us, it’s for good reasons. They will ask us to validate the bill to determine its accuracy, that all services paid for are being provided and they want recommendations to cut costs. They also want to know about new technology to swap out outdated systems.”
Common billing errors NetworkOne uncovers include incorrect, obsolete, or duplicate charges; incorrect extension count; services not working, and the like. Audits take anywhere from three weeks to three months depending on the organization size, geographical location and availability of past bills. Those acting upon NetworkOne’s recommendations tend to see anywhere from a 12 to 25 per cent reduction in their monthly telephone bill, according to the company’s director.
“Any business with multiple sites or over 50 extensions should have an audit completed at least once a year for the first two years and every two to three years after,” said Mr Winder, a former telecoms executive who spent 28 years with a leading service provider before launching his firm in June 2014. The first year reveals any existing problems, he noted. It is not uncommon to find businesses not getting what they’re paying and then there are instances when businesses dropped the ball carrying too many services, private lines or extensions which are no longer required or redundant.
“After a first audit you have a good grasp of what you have and you’re able to better monitor your bill. We would also recommend a telecom policy best suited for the business,” said Mr Winder. The second audit is to ensure the business is adhering to new procedures brought on stream to correct weaknesses revealed in the first audit. The telecom policy could be as simple as designating one central location in the company as the place to request new telephone and mobile services or upgrade existing phone plans. “When your telephone bill is thousands of dollars per month, that’s something you want to look into and determine what could be stripped away in order to optimize cost,” said Mr Winder.
Past and present clients of the Bay and Victoria firm include leading companies in energy supply, aviation, financial services, insurance, law and the public sector. After businesses have trimmed down phone bills, they often opt to switch out old equipment like the locally popular but outdated Nortel Norstar telephone system discontinued by its manufacturer in 2010. “It may cost more up front but almost always brings a quantum leap in long-term saving, productivity and benefits,” said Mr Winder. “Many businesses are utilizing old telephone systems lacking in basic modern features, much less all the bells and whistles available to today, such as IVR (a mobile extension app which allows your desktop extension to become mobile, sending voicemail to email which is convenient if you’re travelling) and conference bridge, among many other features.”
He added: “Ideally, you want your business to keep up with ever-advancing technology. The best telephone systems today offer a multitude of convenient big business functions. These features reduce cost, increase productivity and improve the business customers experience.”