When starting a new telecom expense management (TEM) project, many organizations debate if the TEM provider should begin with auditing the bills, processing invoices, or creating an accurate inventory of all services. While there are good reasons to initiate all three simultaneously, it is important not to delay the audit or invoice processing until the inventory is complete.
Conducting an audit is critical because the Statute of Limitations to file billing claims is six years. Even if there is evidence to demonstrate a billing error existed for a longer time, the maximum credit for local services is six years, and two years for long distance. Telecom service providers are also adding provisions in contracts that seek to limit the time to file refund claims to six months. This is why it is critical to audit the bills and file the largest claims as early as possible.
Creating the inventory and processing invoices are also critical for TEM programs, but the audit should not wait for these steps to be completed. Inventory is a moving target: as new services are added and old services are disconnected, the inventory changes. Invoice processing usually takes a bit of time to implement because carriers do not immediately redirect invoices from enterprises to the TEM solutions provider. Delays in redirecting invoices could run the clock out on the Statute of Limitations for filing a claim.
Auditing bills, processing invoices, and creating an accurate inventory of all services are all important. TEM programs must be large enough to achieve scale and efficiencies, but they must be small enough for a quick implementation. Finding balance is critical. The initial implementation of a TEM program requires dedicated effort to gather information, ensure consistency of data before it is entered into the system, determine the level of detail needed for acquisition of data, and validate its accuracy. Most organizations underestimate the effort in meeting these requirements.