Choosing a TEM solutions provider should be easy. Right? You make a list of requirements, look for a provider that meets those requirements, and prepare for implementation.

If you’re shaking your head, you undoubtedly know it’s more complex. A lot is at stake, but there’s even more to be gained from the successful selection of the right TEM vendor (think time and money). To make sure the process is a “win” for everyone, we’ve broken it down into 4 steps.

1. Scope it Out

Before you start your search for a TEM solution, secure key stakeholder support and buy-in. Share your vision for effective telecom expense management and bring cross-functional departments together to determine the technical requirements from a global perspective.

Next, assess your businesses needs and goals. It’s critical to know what you’re buying and why. Analyze your current areas of strength and weakness with telecom and mobility expenses. If you’re managing things in-house, identify areas that cause your team the biggest headaches. Are there areas or tactics you’re not addressing because of the level of difficulty, constraints on time, resources or knowledge?

If you’re currently working with a TEM provider, where do they fail to meet your business needs? Which major features are missing from your vision of the ideal solution? These answers should drive your list of non-negotiable requirements for your future TEM solution and ensure that your priorities align with your mission.

Up next: uncover those blind spots by expanding your reading list with research from analysts who cover the Telecom Expense Management market. To get the latest information, speak with analysts, but be careful to avoid summarily dismissing providers based on rankings and placement in evaluations.

2. Narrow it Down

Allow us to state the obvious: There are a lot of TEM providers out there. While you certainly want to conduct a thorough evaluation, the idea is to give yourself a set of quality solutions for your needs to choose from, not a bottomless pit of options, by setting the right parameters.

The most efficient way to reduce the number of providers is to only include TEM solutions that manage the full lifecycle from inventory management to reporting and business intelligence. Providers that meet these criteria will also deliver the benefits such as time savings and the reduction of labor-intensive work that complete automation provides. Be sure to only include providers that can implement any necessary integration with the TEM program and enterprise procurement, HR, ERP, ITSM, and financial management systems and relational databases.

Move on to comparing your non-negotiable requirements with the known capabilities of the provider. You can also request case studies from your top finalists that highlight the results from organizations similar in size or in your industry so you can judge their relevance to your specific challenges.

Don’t forget to investigate quality assurance. What promises are offered for uptime, ongoing support, integrations, upgrades, and updates?

Now you’re ready to make your short list of providers. Narrow it down to 3 or 4 and create RFPs. Be sure to identify the structure for the proposal, so you can compare responses more easily.

All RFPs should include the following:

● Intro and executive summary
● Business overview & background
● Detailed specifications
● Assumptions & constraints
● Use of subcontractors and any work they will perform
● Terms and conditions
● Selection criteria and weighting for each area

3. Make it Real

Client references are the key to predicting the experience your organization will have with a provider. Ask questions about the usability of the application and the length of time to complete an implementation similar in scope and size. How consistent are their points of contact? Do features on product roadmaps ever make it to production? What about the response times to issues that arise, support, ease of use for the application and reports?

Other elements to keep in mind:
● Pricing model
● Contract terms
● Level of service
● Scalability of the application and program
● Security
● Auditing capabilities (Ask for detail down to the USOC level.)
● Bill pay capability

Before you dive deep into the proposals, make sure they’re complete, understandable, and follow the required format. An evaluation sheet will make it easier to evaluate the proposals and determine which one best meets your requirements.

Each requirement should have an importance value assigned to it (from 1 to 10 or pass/fail). From there, you can determine the total score by evaluating each response against the criteria. Some criteria can be weighted as absolutely essential to eliminate providers that fail to meet them. Pricing will often fall into this category.

4. Implement the Program

A successful implementation requires teamwork between your organization and the solutions provider. Make sure each step taken aligns with your original priorities so you’re on the same page to meet your goals. Encourage C-level engagement, make training sessions available to all key stake-holders, and rely on your chosen solution provider’s expertise for guidance on best practices drawing from their entire client base.

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