How to Save on Your Enterprise Wireless Expenses

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.


With 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 order devices.

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 minutes.

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 adherence.

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 [email protected]