The first step to conducting an audit is recognizing that you may have a problem. Most IT professionals are savvy innovators and lousy accountants. The really good ones recognize it and seek out expertise on carrier billing. Consistent with industry stats, my experience confirms an organization will save between 10 and 30% by conducting an audit of Telecom billing. If you are tasked with conducting an audit and the thought is overwhelming, then here is an approach that will at least get you started.
- Make a list of all accounts for telecom related services invoiced monthly, quarterly and annually. Categorize each invoice, wireless, wire line, infrastructure, managed services, maintenance and so forth.
- Make a list of all the locations that your organization provisions telecom for including branches, third party, home offices and make note of historical sites that are no longer operational.
- Locate / source and compile all carrier contracts.
- Correlate account / location / contract information. This will not be complete at this stage; however, it is the beginning of the identification and inventory creation process. Closed locations are frequently the source of billing issues and low hanging fruit in the audit process.
- Prioritize your data for review by category. You may want to start with a service type you are more familiar with on which you can cut your teeth before advancing to a data source you are not so familiar with. Source any missing documentation from your carrier on an as need basis. These include customer service or equipment records, inventory records where only summary invoices are provided and missing contracts and maintenance agreements.
The audit process like project management, is a continuous breakdown of activities into manageable units of work. With the data in hand, and your priorities accounted for, break each account down further by service within account and by location. Each service should have an assignment or intended purpose. You will quickly identify services that need to be disconnected. Calling, suspending, reviewing HR records, and tracing lines are a few of the auditor’s tactics in determining the validity of the service.
With your inventory now in place, and each of the services validated, the accuracy of the billing requires a review of the contract against the applied charges. It is critical going forward that you build a process to maintain the accuracy of your inventory: inventory +/- change = billing. If your inventory is significant in size, you might want to consider a Telecom Expense Management system.
In your position of authority, the only thing you can do wrong is to do nothing. If auditing is not your strong point, remember as businessman R.H Grant once said, “When you hire people that are smarter that you are, you prove you are smarter than they are.” Remember a telecom audit saves money, time and reduces the mean time to repair. What could be smarter?