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Why Does It Take So Long for Some Companies to Put a TEM Process in Place?

Tangoe (News - Alert) routinely participates in Requests for Proposals for TEM services and consults with Fortune 1000 companies on how Communications Lifecycle Management can reduce costs, improve visibility, and improve productivity. What consistently surprises Tangoe is the number of these initiatives that end in “no decision” and the length of time it takes to select a TEM provider. Even with a solid business case that promises a quick ROI through historical audits, asset optimization, ongoing invoice management, contract negotiation assistance, and internal productivity improvements, there is a still reluctance on the part of many companies to pick a TEM partner. Examples include:

  • “Winning” a competitive RFP but taking 24 months to finalize a contract (leaving money on the table during the entire process)
  • TEM projects going through a continuum of “high priority” to “back burner” repeatedly over the course of many years with no decision and status quo maintained
  • Potential wireless savings ignored because of political hurdles and fear

Considering the current pressures companies face to reduce costs, it would be logical to assume that the selection and implementation of a TEM solution would be front-and-center in the list of overall priorities. In theory, the argument for a TEM solution is very compelling: TEM providers routinely demonstrate that the savings generated by a holistic TEM solution will be significantly higher than the cost, and in some cases they will guarantee it. Enterprises seem to make decisions on other cost savings initiatives on a frequent basis (travel, office supplies, etc.) and seem comfortable with that process. What makes TEM different? Some of the key issues include the following:

  • Bills are getting paid. Existing systems and processes are sub-optimal, but processes are so ingrained into the culture of the company that it’s difficult to change what is not considered “broken.” The costs for providing this ongoing internal service are buried in multiple budgets, and telecom costs are usually allocated to the various consumers. Ironically, the department or individual that “champions” TEM often receives a small direct reduction in costs. Other department-specific initiatives have a higher impact to “their” (the department’s) bottom line, while continuing to cost the enterprise substantially more through inefficient TEM processes.
  • Too many cooks. TEM initiatives span multiple departments and in many cases don’t meet organizationally until the CEO level. The “TEM team” ends up consisting of many people with different agendas with different views of the solution (i.e. in house or outsource). Many of the folks selected for the teams are the ones whose jobs will be impacted, creating TEM cynics who constantly undermine the decision process. Just getting the group together is difficult, let alone coming to a consensus on how to move forward and in what way.
  • Parochial and stove pipe solutions have developed over time. Wireless is managed by one group, wireline by another, and invoice processing and payment are separate from inventory management. Each of these constituencies has developed, purchased, or outsourced some sort of TEM process (bad or good) to procure new assets and pay bills. This has actually created a large part of the TEM opportunity for vendors that have a complete lifecycle management program that spans the entire procure to pay process and encompasses both fixed and mobile services. However, crystallizing the requirements of these various groups into a TEM proposal that everyone is willing to embrace and support is a very challenging task.
  • Management is skeptical about savings projections for TEM solutions. Early adopters of TEM solutions were lured by the promise of huge savings that would continue year over year. In many cases these expectations were not met. TEM business cases are simply not believed and require a lot proof points before they are accepted.

So what can you do?

  • Enlist your preferred TEM provider to help build the business case and ROI models and hold them to them.
  • Combine an inventory, audit, or sourcing engagement up front to drive quick savings. This will do several things:
    1. Build credibility in your business case.
    2. Ensure that resources remain committed to the project.
    3. Display to management that your TEM vendor is driving quick results.
  • Work out the internal politics of selecting a TEM solution prior to engaging vendors. “Stealth TEM” doesn’t work. My company, Tangoe has, unfortunately, been involved in TEM projects that seem to have a sponsor and a business case, then get shot down at the very end by someone with authority who was not engaged in the process and has a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. This is a tremendous waste of both customer and vendor resources. IT

Robert Whitemore is Senior Vice President, Professional Services, at Tangoe (

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