Friday, November 13, 2009

How to Choose a Good Telecom Consulting Company?

Every business maximizes its profits by minimizing its expenses and so cost-cutting is a hotly sought after concept in every business. Expenditures are analysed and ways and means of cutting costs are determined. The telecommunication services contribute immensely to cost-savings when a micro-analysis of cost incurred is done and effective corrective and preventive actions are taken. The expertise required to do analysis may not be available within the business, and thus paves the way for the entry of a telecommunication consulting company.

There has been a mushroom growth of telecom consulting companies which offer all types of services at different payment bases such as hourly, monthly, project-based, etc. So, it is a challenge to make the most appropriate choice. The past history of the company should be analysed: Answers to questions like when it was started, what type of services it has been offering all these years, how it has withstood periods of recession, hardship, etc. should be obtained and analysed. It is essential that the company has been in this business for a long period of time as expertise comes only with experience.

Next, the check will be on the clientele of the company. Whom does the company have as its customers will silently vouch what the company is, as the customers are the mirrors that reflect the quality of the services provided by the company. The contact details of the customers should be obtained and information relating to customer satisfaction should be collected and analyzed. The consistency in quality and the period of service with the customer are important points to be considered.

Every company has its expertise in certain areas of telecom services. The expertise of the company when compared with the requirements of the business should be a perfect match. This is a very important criterion as skill and expertise are two main reasons to seek the services of a consulting company.

The operational structure of the company should also be taken into consideration. Who is the contact person, will one person be responsible for all the services, does the company supply the services or does it subcontract to other companies, the expertise and skill of the company’s employees, if there is a subcontract, the history and efficiency levels of the subcontractor, the reliability of the analysis, what methods are used for analysis, are they appropriate methods, etc. are significant questions to be answered before a decision can be made on the choice of a company.

The competitive costs offered also have a major role to play in the selection of the company as this entire process is to save costs. Competitive costs do not always mean the lowest price. It means the best services that can be obtained for the price paid. Lowest prices could include some hidden costs in future or biased decisions and recommendations. These could prove futile to cost-cutting.

The period for which the service is required should be compared with the period offered by the consulting company and an advantageous decision should be taken. The legal formalities involved in drawing up contracts, the back-up systems which the company has, the contingency plans in hand should all be considered before a decision is made.

Our decisions today determine our future tomorrow. A detailed initial analysis of a consulting company results in correct business decisions.

Monday, November 2, 2009

7 Tips to Negotiate Telecommunication Contracts

Negotiating telecommunication contracts can open the doors to significant savings, and so a telecom audit is inevitable in today’s business to ensure economic business functioning and profitability. Technical knowledge and skills, which are of great advantage when it comes to determining the price to pay, are a must to negotiate a good contract. It is essential to negotiate skilfully, without compromising on the level of service, to reduce carrier margins and save money. Cost-effectiveness alone is not the keyword to negotiating telecommunication contracts; reliability of services is of prime importance while drawing contracts. Moreover, emphasis should also be given to future flexibility to adapt to change in technology as businesses are willing to pay a bit more if it meant access to more advanced features that would accentuate and improve the way they do their business.

Before entering into the process of negotiation of contract, the requirements in terms of services and equipments should be ascertained. There are a lot of details to decide like 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 required, etc. Determining the indispensable services is an essential step to be completed with due diligence before starting the negotiations. Inventory and traffic patterns, as well as other pertinent information that will help a carrier price out the network effectively, should be determined. Depending upon the number of carriers used, a contract that can save a very significant percentage of the money previously set aside for telecom services can be negotiated. Once the requirements are well defined, one should analyse the different service providers and draw the contract with a suitable service provider.

The points to be borne in mind while drawing a contract are:

First, the period of contract should not be very long. Prices keep changing very often and it is never good to have a fixed price over a long period as competitive prices would be available in future. It is best to make use of the opportunity.

Second, carrier usage requirements will change. So it is best to make a contract which is flexible and not committed to a particular service. There should always be possibilities to incorporate changes.

Third, analyse the situation well before an existing contract ends and determine what would be best in the interests of the business, accordingly choose you future contract.

Fourth, several extension offers can be made for the expiring contract, So it is essential not to make a hasty decision, but analyse the impact of the contract over the extended period.

Fifth, hidden costs in the contracts should be uncovered and if possible previous overcharges should be recouped.

Sixth, appropriate language should be used to draw up a legal contract. It will be beneficial to review the contract with and attorney or the legal advisory department if you have one.

Seventh, sufficient time should be taken to do the analysis and decide on the contract.

Some companies specialize in negotiating and maintaining contracts. The services of such companies can also be utilized. When skilfully negotiated, telecommunication contracts greatly help in the effective functioning of a business.