In the Technology Expense Management (TEM) industry, and in the quest to fully rationalize the technology costs and assets within a given enterprise, it must be said, that a collection of invoices does not an inventory make. Somewhere along the way, with the advent of readily available electronic billing data, a misperception has grown, even within telecommunications carriers themselves, that electronic invoice data fills every gap and hole in the inventory creation quest conundrum. Though billing data is a component of an inventory, it does not constitute a fulfillment of a TEM service, and it does not deliver on an acceptable standard for maintaining a true and validated inventory.
Toward the goal of creating a comprehensive, complete, and detailed inventory of circuits, services and equipment related to comparing billing charges to information such as – valid location / service addresses, telephone numbers, circuit IDs, contract dates and rates…and more, there will be a need to meld together multiple sources of information. It is virtually impossible for any single data source (particularly billing alone) to derive a “complete inventory”.
While there are, without a doubt, massive “wins” in enabling a TEM environment by way of the mechanization of data visibility created in the translation of EDI and other electronic billing medium into meaningful, and plain English details; unfortunately, that action alone does not deliver on the promise of an optimal TEM environment.
Thus, with gaps and missing detail elements aplenty in the world of telecom billing, it stands to reason that the hardest task in onboarding a client into a TEM environment, for both the client and the TEM provider, is acquiring and melding together all the disparate data sources required to create a “real” baseline inventory.
The “mixture” needed to develop and rationalize a meaningful inventory around technology services requires many ingredients for a successful outcome. The elements needed to deliver a detailed and comprehensive inventory of circuits and services that make up your technology infrastructure need to come from multiple service providers, systems and customer resources. It can be painful, but (really!) worth it when done right.
So, what to do if you are embarking on creating or validating a baseline inventory?
- Do leverage electronic invoice data to create an inventory reference point
- Be sure to assemble any contracts or service orders that establish in-service dates and contract terms for all services involved, to the extent the information is available
- Utilize any carrier inventory data files and CSRs (ancillary and separate from the invoice data) that can help provide service location and term reference information
- Ensure that you have a clean list of all “validated” location address information
- Assemble as needed, employee directory information and site contact information
- Engage Finance resources to determine cost allocation and GL specifications for your inventory
It is an investment of time and money in building a comprehensive technology inventory; however, the results related will drive ROI on your TEM solution, and will be well worth the effort for the visibility and control such information creates. And rest assured that no matter how you go about it, inventory, to some degree is “self-healing” – as you go about the daily business of making moves, adds, changes and disconnects, your inventory accuracy will get better over time.