Thursday, November 26, 2009

Monday, November 9, 2009

When Do You Realize You Need A Telecom Consulting Company?

Cost savings is the mantra for every company. Every company would like to cut the extra costs it incurs on account of telecommunication services. The telecommunication service industry offers a variety of plans and different types of services to its customers. Analyzing all these plans and choosing the plan which is tailor-made to fit the requirements is a task which requires a lot of up-to-date knowledge and skill. As business units need to concentrate more on the conduct of their businesses, time-consuming analyses such as these could turn out to be a deviation from their main line of concentration. Very big concerns may afford to employ a team to take care of these analyses, but small- and medium-size companies may not be able to do so. At this point of time, the need for external help to manage such services is realized and the services of a telecom consulting company is welcomed.

The requirements of a business such as the number of devices to be supported, the applications to support, the procurement and maintenance of equipment and accessories, the types of voice and data services, the traffic patterns, etc. should first be ascertained and based on it the hardware and software infrastructure should be planned. This is an area which requires a lot of technical expertise. This is a one time requirement and once decided upon it requires maintenance. So it may be expensive for a business to have a department exclusively for this. As this task involves massive planning initially and maintenance later on, the services of telecom consulting company can be sought for planning. Later, the maintenance can be done either by the telecom consulting company or managed by the business itself. When different telecom consulting companies are consulted, their expertise helps us to arrive at the best solution.

Telecommunication service providers come out with various attractive plans from time to time. So it is essential to switch over to new plans as per their suitability to the requirements of the business. Unless an alert watch is set on the plans rolled out, the business may not benefit out of it. Here again a consulting company can do this for us.

Analysis of bills is another aspect which requires handling of a lot of data and time. The services of a consulting company can be sought to analyze the bills and segregate them on various accounts such as plan charges, voice and data charges, etc. Here a comparative study over a period is required to justify the usage of telecommunication services by a person. Analysis helps answer questions such as is the correct plan chosen as per the usage, is there a justification in the usage of some services, what is the pattern of usage, is there a return for the amount spent on telecommunication services, etc. But this analysis again requires expertise which may not be readily available is a business. Here again a telecom consulting company comes in handy to help answer the questions.

If a little sum spent on telecommunication management is going to considerably help cut costs incurred due to telecommunication services, it is definitely worth giving a try to telecom consulting companies.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Ways to Cost Analyze and Reduce Telecommunication Expense

Cost analysis is a must for all operations of a business. Expenses incurred due to telecommunication service charges require a considerable budget allocation and hence have to be analyzed with care to minimize cost.

The first step in the analysis will be to consolidate all the voice and data services used, and then to analyze the monthly telephone bills. The charges for the local lines, T1s, networks, and Internet should be considered separately. Their usage should be justified and it should be checked to see if plans are used to their maximum limit. The usage pattern of local and long-distance calls also should be studied. The suitability of switched and dedicated lines should also be assessed. A wide range of data services like WAN, MPLS, IP Sec VPN, Private Lines, VoIP, Web Hosting, etc. are available. The choice of data service used should also be validated. Internet plays an inevitable role in business and as per the needs of the business DSL, T1, T3, high speed Internet, fractional or burstable T1 can be selected. Audio, video and web conferencing should also be borne in mind while choosing services. The phone systems, LAN/WAN set up, cabling equipment used should also be evaluated and the apt type of equipment should be chosen as per the requirement. As per the traffic volume the quantity of trunks should be determined and distributed among the trunk groups. Once the analyses on all these fronts are complete, we will be able to assess what exactly are our requirements. Once the requirements are fixed, the second step will be to identify services which are not a perfect choice, eliminate them, and replace them with suitable ones, and the third step will be to identify the services in which the expenses are not justified. These data now have to be carefully analyzed and investigated to reduce cost.

The next step will be to look out for service providers with competitive prices. The service cost and rates of local exchange companies and long-distance carriers should be analyzed. The most suitable plans and services should be chosen in such a way that they are fully utilized and no compromise on services is made.

The usage and cost incurred should be strictly monitored. In short, review and analyze the existing system and ensure optimization of resources and minimization of costs. Re-locations, upgrades, network planning, security assessment, and project management will help reduce cost.

It would be best to negotiate contracts based on the volume of calls. Best deals would be offered when the volume is more. Minimum monthly usage commitments should be avoided as they may prove to be expensive. Customer service should be provided 24X7. Least second billing (say 6 seconds or less) would be advisable. Consolidated billing on a two-week bill resolution basis would help establish strict control over the overheads. Several bill analysis tools are readily available. A suitable tool can be used to analyze the bill.

The efforts taken to cut costs in voice and data services directly reflect on the profitability of a business. Cost analysis of data and voice services is a must for every business.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Telecommunications: Business Continuity

A good management prepares itself to protect its most significant functions from emergencies and contingencies. With efficient planning, management can make the effects of system failure vanish with immediate implementation of an alternative plan to ensure normal functioning. System failure may be due to several disastrous and unexpected reasons and emergency situations. But one should always be prepared with a valid logical plan of how to recover and restore the operations which have come to a standstill. Recovery and restoration alone are not the key factors, the time within which it has to be accomplished takes precedence. The process of planning to handle these unexpected risks is called Business Continuity Planning.

Telecommunication plays a significant role in the success of a business and its interruption or failure will be disastrous and cause irredeemable loss to the business no matter what the reason is for the failure. It affects not only the internal but also the external functioning, especially customer relationship, which no business can afford to risk. Emergency situations may vary from simple malfunctioning of systems to complex scenarios where there is an unauthorized entry or breakdown of the system due to power, network failure, natural calamities, man-made disasters, etc.

First, business continuity plans should first define the normal process to be followed for efficient day-to-day operations. Second, it is essential to have plans to handle all types of anticipated emergencies and contingencies. Third, the most unexpected circumstances must be foreseen and planned for. It is always better to have multiple plans. These business continuity plans should have different approaches and be completely exclusive of one another so that they deal with potential as well as unforeseeable and extraordinary emergencies strategically. The plan which seems to be a perfect solution for one problem may not be so for another. So, it is important to plan with the different catastrophes from the simplest to the most tedious one that a business may have to face in mind. The priorities, needs, human resources available, the work scenario, budget allocation, and technology available all play an important role in planning. Business continuity planning minimizes risk and cost of failure.

Planning alone will never be sufficient to handle an emergency situation. The role each person has to play and the technology involved has to be well defined. The execution of the job should be practiced well. Equipment involved in such plans should be well maintained and technology upgraded to the state of the art from time to time. Centralization of manpower and equipment should be avoided. The equipment and manpower should be spread throughout the physical premises of the business. Authority and decision making should be spread throughout the business structure as well. Reliance on one service provider should be avoided. The communication network of staff in emergency situations should be well established.

The cost involved may be prohibitive. But if a business continuity plan is not in place the entire business may crash taking with it years of hard work, effort, and finance. Risk management is a must for every business as is business continuity and telecommunication services the life line of a business should be handled with care.