10 Questions to Ask a Consultant Before a Telecom Audit
Another year has gone by, and business is good. Your company is earning profits, but it seems like expenses are also on the rise. As you look over your yearend numbers and look for ways to “trim the fat” moving forward, you see that the expenses for telecom, data, and wireless devices have grown significantly over the past years. It’s time for a telecom audit.
Whether this is your first experience with a telecom audit, or you need better results than you got from previous audits, you want to make sure that you have the right telecom expense management company on your side. How can you make sure that you choose the telecom expense management firm that is the best fit to perform an audit for your company? Here is a list of 10 questions you should ask your consultant before a telecom audit:
How Long Has Your Telecom Expense Management Firm Been in Business?
This question may seem like an unimportant, generic conversation starter. Where are you from? What do you think about this weather we’ve been having? However, there is a definite purpose in asking how long the firm has been in business. With the deregulation of the telecom industry in 1984 came many changes to the world of over the next decades. Many new carriers were created, each with a new system and process. With the changes in business, technology, and regulations coming at a rapid fire pace, the telecom industry can be a challenge for newcomers. You will not want to trust something this important to a novice.
A telecom expense management firm that has had staying power through the changing times will bring expertise and experience to your audit. Your company will benefit from hiring a company that has been in business 10 or 20 years, and has worked their way up the learning curve.
How Has Your Auditing Process Evolved Over Time?
This is a logical followup to the previous question regarding how long the company has been in business. The only constant in the telecom industry is that change is around every corner. Though this question may cause a less experienced consultant to bob and weave, it will allow a more experienced consultant representing an established firm to give specific examples of changes and improvements that they have made over time. You will want to to chose a firm that can not only handle performing an audit, but has can adapt the process over time to keep current with the changing telecom landscape
How Large is Your Telecom Expense Management Company?
During the 1990s, many of the large telecom service providing companies experienced layoffs. This triggered a large number of telecom executives, customer service and sales representatives to try their hand at telecom consulting. As a result, there were many new, “one man band” style telecom consultancies vying for business. A one or two person company may not be able to handle your complex needs.
So when it comes to size, is a bigger telecom expense management firm always better? Not necessarily, but you will want to make sure that the firm you hire is large enough to take on your audit, without farming work out to other firms. In essence, you don’t want to hire a “middle man” to perform your audit, you want to hire a company that is large enough to complete all the tasks associated with your audit.
Who Will Be Performing My Audit?
This question is the logical followup after the discussion regarding the size of the firm. You will want to make sure that your company is big enough so that the work doesn’t get outsourced, and that your audit will be performed entirely by employees of the telecom expense management firm. On the other side of the spectrum, if you chose a large telecom expense management firm to perform your audit, you will want to make sure that the company is well organized, and will have a team of people that will be accountable to you. You don’t want your audit to get lost in the shuffle. The answer to this question regarding who will actually be performing the audit will let you know if the telecom expense management firm has a solid plan in place, and a team to carry it out.
What Are the Fees, and How are They Structured?
The industry of telecom expense management has a wide variety of fees and fee structures. The three main categories of fee structures include an hourly rate of pay, a per project rate of pay, or a contingency based fee. For many companies requesting an audit in order to reduce telecom expenses, the contingency based fee is very appealing. Typically, this contingency based fee will take into account the cost savings over a 12 or 24 month period. Be wary of telecom expense management companies that demand a large retainer up front.
Though you don’t want to over pay, you should expect to pay for services rendered, and the least expensive “deal” will often cost you in the long run. Think about this in terms of buying a car. The used, junkyard car will be the lowest price, but may or may not run. The fast and fabulous sports car will be the highest price, but you will pay for the “flash” and fun factor. The best value will be the vehicle that does everything that you want it to do reliably for a fair price. With your audit, the lowest price is not always the best value, rather, the value will come in paying a fair price for quality work.
Are You Compensated by Vendors or Carriers?
If you are quoted an inexpensive fee for an audit, then that firm may be receiving additional compensation from a telecom service provider. If this is the case, any recommendations will come with a bias, and may not be the best recommendations to meet the needs of your company.
Does the Telecom Expense Management Firm Have a Specialty Area?
Before you interview a potential telecom consultant for your audit and ask this question, make a list of general concerns and goals that you have regarding your company’s telecom. You may not know how to solve all the problems, but you probably have a sense as to what some of the issues are. Maybe your company is working with outdated equipment and you are looking to replace and upgrade. Or, maybe your system of adding lines for new employees or keeping track of personal devices needs to be streamlined. Write down your thoughts before the meeting. Then, when you inquire about the specialty area, you can see if the area of expertise will be a match to your company’s needs.
Can You Provide Specific Case Studies of Current or Past Clients?
An established and reputable telecom expense management firm will be able to speak to success stories of clients in a variety of industries. Ask to see specific projects that have been completed for a client who is similar to you company either in size or in type of business, or preferably both.
What Immediate “Bottom Line” Results Should I Expect From the Audit?
Though your telecom expense management consultant will not be able to tell you exactly how much money your company will save until your company undergoes the audit, he or she can make predictions and give you some statistics based on audits that they have done for companies similar to yours. Though no two audits are exactly the same, this will give you an idea of what you can expect for immediate results.
Will the Audit Result in Long-term Savings for my Company?
Though your immediate cost savings is important, a respectable firm will also be able to speak to the future. Will your company need followup audits on a regular basis? If so, how often? Is there software that you can utilize to keep on top of your company’s telecom expenses that will help you keep your the expenses lower over the long haul? You will want to chose a firm that can offer you more than just a quick fix with an audit. A telecom expense management firm that can help you understand why your expenses are high will allow you to change your long-term policies regarding telecom. Creating strategies for long-term expense management will be beneficial right away and in the future.
As you can see, choosing a telecom expense management firm to do your audit is not a simple process. There are many variables, and there is no one “right” choice for every company. Taking some time to prepare questions for your potential consultant will help to ensure that your audit is performed by a qualified, professional organization that can best meet your needs. If you do your homework and choose wisely, this choice could be the beginning of a longterm partnership that will allow you to keep your telecom expenses under wrap, and allow your company to enjoy more of its profits.