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September 11, 2009

Telecom Lifecycle Management Company Solves Dilemma of Processing Paper Invoices

By Erin Harrison, Executive Editor, Strategic Initiatives

Keep your friends close, but your competitors closer. In an economy that calls for a more watchful eye on telecom expenses, this mantra could not be truer.
One example is telecom lifecycle management companies must be able to process paper invoices effectively and efficiently to remain competitive. Cincinnati-based Spectrum (News - Alert) offers telecom lifecycle management solutions that allow organizations of all sizes and industries to focus on their business needs by providing the tools necessary, from ordering/procurement of telecom services to real-time access management of assets, contract negotiation, expense management and auditing as well as implementation and support.
According to Spectrum’s President, Trent McCracken (News - Alert), the company is able to actually take business from their competitors because their competitors’ solution demands a ratio of 80 percent electronic invoices, 20 percent paper invoices. In addition, when their competitors process paper invoices, most only process the summary page which does not provide actual costs for circuits, lines, etc. because they are not capturing the invoice detail, he explained.
“Our patent-pending turnkey process extracts, parses, and validates the data off the paper invoice and dynamically loads it into our TLM solution, TrueVue. Instead of using standard OCR, we utilize our rules-based text query method which allows us to quickly update our data extraction engine when the carriers modify their invoice layout,” said McCracken.
TrueVue, built from the ground up by Spectrum, is one of the few TLM solutions which has a unified platform for both wireless and wireline services. Many of its competitors have built their solutions through mergers and acquisitions and are still trying to integrate the functionality of the wireless application into the wireline application or vice-versa. Example of this are Tangoe (wireline) acquiring Traq (wireless), Rivermine (wireline) buying BBR Wireless (wireless), Invoice Insight (wireline) buying Oreon (News - Alert) (wireless), and so on.
The merger is part of a trend as TEM companies traditionally focused on wireline management are coming together with wireless lifecycle management companies. McCracken explained that Spectrum is able to offer their premium solution because of their unmatched ability of processing paper invoices as well as electronic invoices. Competitors either have data entry operators locally keying in invoice data, or some are even outsourcing this task overseas which can become very difficult to manage, and ultimately more expensive.
“In my opinion, TLM companies are going to be faced with processing paper invoices for quite some time.  I have been hearing for years that all invoices are going to be electronic, but with some of the smaller local telephone companies out there that either haven't adopted newer technology, or can’t afford to adopt newer technology, they will continue to invoice their customers with a paper invoice.”

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Erin Harrison is a Senior Editor with TMC. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Erin Harrison

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