Replacing Dollars with Sense - How to Cut Costs Without a Complete Overhaul
Most IT staff don’t have the time to chase down pesky and seemingly unimportant telecom expenses. There are bigger projects and expectations from management that translates to real productivity dollars. However, losing sight of telecom savings translates to real dollars, too. Here are a few tips for I’ve learned over the years so you can find some “low hanging fruit” which we normally start with!
- I’ve made more money on slashing costs on local services (POTS, PRI, analog circuits) than anywhere else. That’s because there are so many pricing plans, features and confusing services. If you take into account multiple carriers, and multiple locations these turn into logistical nightmares for most. Businesses succumb to just hoping to not get ripped off! Until SIP trunks replace POTS you need to:
- Find the unused lines. Start with your inventory of every circuit and identify those lines that are necessary. Some carriers will still give you a traffic study. This is a count of every inbound and outbound call which is normally given in a one-week increment. Otherwise, if you can’t determine each line’s use try to temporarily disconnect them for two weeks. If someone needs it they’ll let you know! Of course you have to be mindful of what the lines might be used for and which department they are servicing. A systematic approach (not cutting more than three per location per date) is best.
- Once you have your inventory, tell your carrier(s) you want them all in a contract. And put your contracts on or close to the same end date so you have leverage when these all expire.
- It won’t be that long until POTS lines will be phased out. So as the POTS lines increase in cost (and boy are they shooting up in cost lately) start shopping and moving these lines to VoIP service or SIP trunks. In some situations, this is easy (like voice on a small phone system) and this is where you can start.
- Cellular device management used to be a hot topic. However, with Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and the carriers simplifying their plans it’s less of a pressing issue. However you can always:
- Identify the devices with no usage. Cancel them unless needed for Disaster Recovery plans.
- Manage your data plan. This is easy to do unless you are sticking to a grandfathered unlimited data plan which you then need to manage voice and text.
- Keep tabs on international travel and roaming fees. This can easily turn you from a hero to a zero if the cellular bill goes us 700%. I’ve seen this many times. Develop a policy with staff or your Human Relations Department (when they buy the plane tickets) so you can change their cellular plan when traveling OR put software on devices to notify you when abroad.
- Conference calling services are a great place to simplify and save money. There’s no reason you shouldn’t get free or less than $0.03/min on your plan. Most phone systems have a conference bridge, too, which you can use at no cost except those calling long distance. Shop around.
- Internet services also might appear to be straightforward, at least when you are in an urban area and can get high speed Internet. However, did you know you can:
- Purchase the modem instead of renting it. These costs can get up to $20/month, when you can buy one for $80. The only trick is if you need static IP addresses.
- Negotiate your price. You can’t always get what you ask for but often if you ask you shall receive. Just find out if they have better pricing.
I’ve made millions of dollars in my job and I’m not a rocket scientist. However, you do have to go after these seemingly small costs to get control of your inventory, pricing and improve your technology infrastructure. You know how to eat an elephant, don’t you? One bite at a time.
Dan Aylward is a Senior Consultant and founding member of Abilita since 2004. He has over 17 years of experience helping businesses and municipalities reduce expenses and right-size telecommunications (landlines and wireless) inventory. Dan has been a guest speaker/author for The Voice Report, Michigan Public Radio, and Michigan State University.