Telecom is often viewed as time consuming and frustrating. This perception is spot-on if you don’t have the knowledge to combat potential Telecom Time Wasters. Companies often merge traditional ‘IT’ and ‘telecom’, which forces IT support professionals to absorb “telecom” duties into their already busy schedules. At first glance, “IT” and “telecom” look similar by design. However, they are quite different. So, how do IT support teams learn to maneuver within the telecom industry without losing valuable time? Simple. Keep reading the 5 Telecom Time Wasters and learn how to save time and productivity in your Telecom Environment.

Telecom Time Wasters – #1 Repair and Maintenance

There is no greater pressure for IT than an outage. An internal outage is painful, but even worse is the outage that occurs at the vendor or carrier level. You can expect long hold times, lack of proactive updates, and reduced maintenance staff to address the problems in a timely manner. Small telecom outages may take 4+ hours of your undivided attention. Large outage can take 8-10+ hours with trouble-shooting, tech appointments, equipment testing, etc.

Best way to avoid lost time? Online ticketing and live chat. Both methods give live updates from the vendor or carrier while allowing IT staff to multitask.

Telecom Time Wasters -#2 Billing

FUSF, E911, State taxes, Federal taxes, City taxes, PICC fees, contractual rates and charges… Which are applicable on your bill? How do you know if your bill is accurate? Around 60% of all telecom bills have some kind of error on them, MONTHLY. On average, errors of around 3-15% are found on a standard audit. If errors are found, better block out a good chunk of time to get them resolved. Plan on 1) an initial call and information intake 2) another call as the issue is passed on to the correct team for processing 3) yet another call to follow up on the first two calls 4) one more call after that to confirm resolution. Add into the equation standard call center hold times for each interaction and you are looking at quite a time commitment.

Best way to avoid lost time? Once again, online ticketing is the best way to go if you handle these issues in-house. If you want to remove this complicated activity from your plate altogether, there are many resources that can handle this issue for you.

Telecom Time Wasters – #3 Contract Negotiation

Contracts are a pain to negotiate even when you understand the telecom billing terminology and language. Telecom contracts contain passages that make no sense to anyone but the carrier and the highly experienced expert. Understanding how each section protects, or could potentially hurt your business is not a simple task. Once it is negotiated, there is a whole new adventure validating that everything from the negotiation is actually IN contract.

Best way to avoid lost time? Have an independent resource review your contracts. They are often cheaper than hiring a lawyer specializing in corporate technology documents. They can also make additional recommendations regarding the best way to leverage your contracts.

Telecom Time Wasters – #4 Order Negotiation

Once the contracts are approved, you have to deal with the order process surrounding the changes resulting from the new contract. This may be anything from a simple upgrade to a full network migration. In essence, this means lots and lots of time spent making things happen. Order outlines, planning, specifics, communication, process, timelines, meetings, implementation, testing and review are just a few of the action items that have to happen with any telecom order. Experience and exposure to the process, or lack thereof, can make or break any project plan.

Best way to avoid lost time? Get a commitment to resources from your provider. They are the experts. Let them do what they do – support telecom. Have a detailed, well mapped out communication and implementation plan done – in writing. Set task reminders for milestone commitments and hold them to those timelines. If the scope of the project is larger than what you would like to take on yourself, there are resources that specialize in handling these types of changes for you.

Telecom Time Wasters – #5 Lack of Accessible, Knowledgeable Resources

Let’s face it – in this day and age of limited resources, accessible and knowledgeable support is hard to come by. The telecom industry is understaffed with people who can translate the ‘telecom language’. It’s nearly impossible to get in contact with someone regarding your issue on the first attempt.

Best way to avoid lost time? Cross your fingers. If you do not have a dedicated carrier representative assigned to your business you are just going to have to deal with it. Remember, live chat can be a bit better with faster response times.

At the end of the day, the need for communication and technology is no longer optional, it is essential.  When companies merge ‘telecom’ into traditional ‘IT’, valuable time is taken away from strategic IT initiatives and pushed into merged job duties. What can we learn from these 5 Telecom Time Wasters? That an outside, knowledgeable, customer-focused resource is essential to be the most productive in the ever-complicated world of telecom.

“Telecommunications” is not exactly a four-letter word, but most IT Execs and CIOs usually think of several such words when the topic comes up regarding how to manage toxic telecom. Why? In one word: Dysfunctional. In a few words: Not Strategic, not customer focused, not fun.

Executives reluctantly accept the seemingly inevitable conclusion that a sub-optimized telecom environment is less toxic to their business and their bottom line than a sub-optimal IT environment. They are content to accept a ‘good enough’ set of outcomes. They don’t know any other way to achieve a great outcome within such a dysfunctional, fragmented, anti-customer service, monopolistic industry.

Telecom: A Necessary Evil
If the concept of “Good Enough” was applied to the airline industry and we had just 99.9% of flights landing successfully, we would suffer tens of thousands of casualties each year. It may seem harsh to compare Telecom sub-optimization to the painful and dramatic human analogies of cancer and airline deaths, but the illustration is necessary to realize that there are consequences to neglect and the acceptance of mediocrity. Here are some examples:

  1. Critical IT resources waste valuable strategic hours on tactical telecom outcomes
    Could there be a hidden contributing factor as to why highly visible, key strategic IT initiatives are not completed on time or on budget? Could it be you siphon off even a few hours a week from your IT staff to deal with the ‘nuisance’ of telecom? Be it engineering questions, thorny mobility questions, or aggressive carrier reps, the list goes on and on. But your IT people cannot go ‘on and on’ – they have families, clocks, and lives to live. Sadly, both outcomes suffer from this mess: IT loses valuable focus, and telecom becomes sub-optimized and costly.
  2. Contract renewal hell
    How many telecom carriers/vendors support your business? Don’t cheat, count them all! WAN, DR, LD, local services across the country, hosting, managed services, consultants, telephony equipment vendors, cabling, monitoring, let alone the numerous mobility carriers and MDM vendors. Now ask yourself, how many hours do you and your staff spend ‘negotiating’ a great contract with these carriers and vendors? When done, you feel good don’t you? Why? Because every contract cycle you come to expect that commoditization will drive your telecom costs and you will benefit as a result. Congratulations, your direct cost of telecom is lower now. But at what cost?The true cost is an honest aggregation of the time, energy, and focus from you and your staff, in addition to the cost of NOT knowing where the bottom is and how long it takes to get there. Now, take all of this and compare it to the ‘reward’ for this cost – the sweet glory of ‘savings’ you expect each cycle. Well, let’s be honest, rates have compressed to the point where savings are single digits at best, unless you poorly negotiated your previous contract, hence more waste. The time spent on chasing them far out-strips the benefits of keeping the telecom function in-house and away from an expert who can do it all it most efficiently and cost effectively.
  3. The true cost of poor customer service from telecom carriers
    Using the analogy of other large industries is again helpful. If you choose not to accept the notoriously poor service of the US postal service, you have many options to protect your valuable time. You can use Fedex or UPS, email, webex, skype, or any number of substitutes for almost all important communications. However, how often can you avoid a major telecom carrier and still connect a worldwide network? Whether it is last mile, or the WAN, the definition of necessary evil will creep back into the conversation. The cost of waiting in line at the USPS is one person’s time and frustration; however the cost of a network outage can be thousands of dollars a minute in lost productivity for hundreds of people. Sure, this risk is mitigated via network design, disaster recovery options and other means, but there is inevitable risk at some point in the chain. “Good Enough” thinking means accepting this treatment; however, having a partner who has relationships with the carriers, the tools to accelerate outcomes, and the people who know how to get it done because they do it every day…that is the anecdote to ‘good enough’ thinking.

Don’t fall victim to telecom toxicity
You know the painful truth of this adage: if you do the same things, you will get the same results. It applies more than ever within telecom. Eliminate the toxicity within your telecom department by investigating Turnkey Telecom Management (TTM) as the cure to ‘good enough’ thinking.