How to Rein In Your Enterprise Wireless Expenses

By Thierry Zerbib  |  Posted 2010-09-17

How to Rein In Your Enterprise Wireless Expenses

For years, wireless devices have been a major piece of the enterprise telecom puzzle. Despite how tightly integrated they have become with company operations, it is estimated that a remarkable 80 percent of enterprises will overspend on their wireless costs. As wireless spending continues to grow at approximately 30 percent year over year, and the types of devices and downloads proliferate, companies need to be asking themselves how they can be smarter about controlling their wireless costs.

To address this question, here are five steps to reining in your existing wireless expenses and accurately budgeting for wireless expenses in the future.

Step No. 1: Establish a strong mobile policy with automated enforcement

Most mobile policies were developed years ago for standard cell phones. As smartphones have taken the enterprise by storm, outdated policies don't account for key areas such as smartphone eligibility, application downloads and data security. Updating mobile policy is the critical first step but, without enforcement, your mobile policy has no teeth. You need technology to automate enforcement and ensure compliance.

Use a mobile provisioning portal to provide a single place for users to order, cancel or upgrade their mobile packages across carriers. Tailored to your specific mobile policy, a Web-based mobile provisioning portal can be as flexible or as strict as your policy requires. For example, a strict mobile policy might allow users to see only the package available based on their job function. A more lenient policy might allow users to choose from multiple packages that are then approved by their manager. Combining an updated mobile policy with mobile provisioning technology reduces mobile expenses, better supports employees and improves efficiencies.

Automate Invoice Management, Validation and Reporting

Step No. 2: Automate invoice management, validation and reporting

As mobile usage grows, so does the number of invoices and potential for costly billing and payment errors. Ongoing validation of billing with mobile inventory is required. Most organizations take one of two approaches. The first approach is where they don't validate their wireless bills, so charges such as ringtones, unapproved application downloads and games go unnoticed. Multiply that by thousands of employees and it adds up. The second approach is where they have a team of folks manually validating bills, which is a labor-intensive and error-prone process.

By automating labor-intensive functions such as invoicing, expense validation and IRS tax compliance, companies can see substantial savings. Use a wireless expense management solution to automate reconciliation of billing with inventory to identify unused phones and service plans of employees that are no longer working for the enterprise. Track personal and business calls for chargeback and tax compliance requirements. And allocate expenses based on actual usage by individual to promote visibility and awareness of mobile expenses.

Optimize Wireless Plans to Save Money

Step No. 3: Optimize wireless plans to save money

Overages, international roaming and services purchased outside of the plan are the most common, avoidable causes of mobile overspending. Monitoring wireless plans, flagging opportunities to move employees to the most cost-effective plan, and automating reporting are smart ways to not only control costs but also streamline reporting.

With a view of actual wireless usage, you can identify the most cost-effective plans for users and roll up wireless spending from multiple carriers to compare and negotiate the best rates. A big part of user adoption and behavior change is providing detailed visibility. Understanding mobile usage down to the individual level changes behavior and reduces cost. Detailed usage monitoring ensures employees are on the right wireless plans to optimize spending.

Step No. 4: Don't underestimate the support impact

As enterprises support different types of wireless devices, operating systems and mobile applications across carriers, supporting users is becoming more time-consuming and expensive. It is estimated that enterprises are spending 10 times more on support of wireless services than fixed services.

Outsourcing wireless help desk support can be an effective way to reduce this common expense. Relying on outsourced mobile help desk representatives allows organizations to redeploy help desk staff to higher yield initiatives. It helps them put the burden of managing all aspects of wireless support-from order inquiries to complex technical troubleshooting-on outsourced specialists.

Provide Detailed Budget to Actual Reporting

Step No. 5: Provide detailed budget to actual reporting

Improving expense visibility is critical to effective wireless expense management. Providing managers with visibility into the longest calls, the most expensive calls and any unnecessary expenses is a great way to reduce simple but expensive mistakes in overuse. You can't manage what you can't see, and nothing is truer in wireless expense management. When you know what you are actually spending on wireless costs, you can negotiate better rates. When users know their actual to budget spend, you drive down consumption. And when you can see the exceptions-your highest users, phones with no usage at all, etc.-you reduce cost. By understanding what's being spent on wireless from top to bottom, you improve visibility and reduce wireless spending.

There's certainly a clear business case for better wireless expense management. Most organizations typically save 15 percent on their annual mobile spend. And most realize 100 percent return on investment in less than one year by eliminating overcharges, optimizing mobility management and gaining control over a notoriously complex area of the business.

Thierry Zerbib is co-founder and Chief Executive Officer at Telesoft. Thierry is a 27-year veteran of the telecom industry and a recognized pioneer in the telecommunications expense management market. As chief executive officer and co-founder, Thierry saw the business need and impact of automating and simplifying the telecom expense management lifecycle. Thierry holds dual degrees in Computer Science and Math from the Tel Aviv University in Tel Aviv, Israel. He can be reached at

Rocket Fuel