Enterprises are increasingly relying on wireless services to improve employee productivity. It is imperative that IT departments, and specifically telecom managers, implement a smart wireless expense management plan. Knowledge Center contributor Jim Carroll explains how to create a wireless expense plan that controls cell phone expenses and the management of wireless devices.
the rise of enterprise use of smart phones such as RIM's BlackBerry,
Apple's 3G iPhone and Windows Mobile devices, it is important for
enterprises to efficiently manage their telecom spend internally, or by
using wireless expense management software that brings visibility into
and control over wireless spend.
So, how can enterprises gain control? It seems simple, but the
following equation is often forgotten. It can serve as the foundation
of any smart wireless plan, saving your enterprise millions of dollars:
Cost Per Minute (CPM) x Minutes of Use (MOU) = Wireless Expense
Now that I have your attention, let's walk through the left side of
the equation. Cost Per Minute (CPM) is the rate plan agreed to by the
enterprise and wireless carrier. Understanding and managing rate plans
is imperative. Often the greatest ROI from a wireless expense
management program comes from optimizing rate plans because enterprises
tend to overbuy minutes.
Telecom managers should do their homework to ensure that they are
locking in the most competitive rates, and perform due diligence
researching promotional carrier plans. For example, some of the most
heavily promoted shared-minute plans offered by carriers can be
misleading. Telecom managers should review plans in detail, weighing
the pros and cons before proceeding with one of these plans.
Monitor your pool plans' impact on MOU
Pool plan options allow enterprises to share a certain number of
minutes among employees. When enterprises hear about pool plan options,
they frequently believe it is the answer to controlling wireless costs.
However, these pool plans are more favorable for the carrier than for
the customer because, once established, telecom managers usually do not
designate limits on specific number of minutes that individual
employees should use.
It is true that enterprises can save money if the right pooled or
shared rate plans are selected, but make sure these plans do not have a
negative impact on the next part of the equation: Minutes of Use (MOU).
When employees are part of a shared rate plan, they often have a false
sense of security believing they have "unlimited" minutes. They might
increase their usage, thinking they will just be using other employees'
leftover minutes and not creating an additional expense to their
company. These plans often result in the employee base using more
minutes than before the pool plan was initiated. This often forces the
enterprise to increase the number of minutes included in the plan.
Develop and implement a solid corporate policy
Usage management among employees is highly important to an
enterprise. And, although your organization does not want to play "Big
Brother" to employees, a specific policy must be established and
tailored to the enterprise's needs and goals. The policy should
establish whether or not a device is deemed for business use only, the
usage limits per month, the acceptable data features (such as Internet
browsing, e-mail, text messaging), and which users are permitted to
As you do not want important client information walking out the door
once an employee leaves the company, the policy should also include a
device return procedure. After an employee departs, phones should be
wiped, and either refurbished or recycled.
Educate employees via wireless usage reports
It is critical for the enterprise to make a specific employee's
wireless usage available to that employee in the form of a report.
Educate employees with usage reports or develop threshold reports sent
to key managers when an employee passes a specific benchmark (such as
1,000 minutes in a given month). Managers can then send a message to
the employee about his or her usage. Providing this level of
transparency serves two functions:
Function No. 1:
It offers employees clarity on whether or not
they are going over their minutes. Some employees, if given this
information, will be diligent and ensure that they do not overuse
Function No. 2:
It gives employees who do not review the data
the sense that, even if they are not personally monitoring their
statement, a manager or supervisor is, so they should not use their
device beyond what is specified within the company policy.
The equation again: CPM x MOU = Wireless Expense
As IT departments and telecom managers revisit wireless expenses,
they shouldn't forget the million-dollar equation. Optimal rate plans
is the area that an enterprise can control through constant rate
adjustments and carrier negotiations. Although a significant amount of
money can be saved from the left side of the equation (CPM), it is the
right side (MOU) that is often ignored: usage management and policy
Telecom managers, often with the help of wireless expense management
tools, can create transparency around usage including call detail,
roaming fees and international charges. But managers and employees
alike must take action to lower the right side of equation.
Jim Carroll is executive vice president of Global Wireless Services at Rivermine.
Jim has been working in the wireless industry for more than 15 years
with companies such as Verizon Wireless, BellSouth Cellular and
Telephone, and Data Systems. Prior to the merger with Rivermine, Jim
served as CEO and founder of BBR Wireless Management, successfully
growing the company from the ground up. He can be reached at