Valicom COO Talks TEM

Valicom Q&A

Valicom COO Talks TEM

By Paula Bernier, Executive Editor, IP Communications Magazines  |  October 01, 2010

This article originally appeared in the October 2010 issue of INTERNET TELEPHONY

Paying bills is no fun. Reviewing them is even more of a chore – and one for which few of us are ideally suited. Yet, considering 3 to 6 percent of enterprise gross revenue is spent on telecom, businesses that don’t closely read and understand their bills are likely to be overpaying for their services, and the resulting losses can be significant.

Jeff Poirior, chief operating officer with Valicom, recently spoke with INTERNET TELEPHONY about the challenges of telecom equipment management, how TEM is now moving within reach of a greater number of companies, and what the Madison, Wisc.-based company is doing to address the requirements of both large and medium-sized business customers.

How does Valicom help companies save money?

Poirior: We start with the CSR (News - Alert), or customer service record, and we use that as the inventory base to create the inventory in our database for our clients. We go through it to make sure the services or the circuits they’re getting billed for match what we’re finding in the CSRs.

Then we go into contracts.… We negotiate in contracts and just deal in telecom every single day, so we would be very much aware of any promotional offerings. [If] the client got [a particular deal] on the East Coast but are being told they can’t get it in the Midwest, we might be able to say ‘Sure they can, because we just did it for [another] client.’

We do benchmarking. Clients have hired us just to do benchmarking for a specific vertical.

We do full invoice auditing.

And another area we do for both wireline and wireless is optimization. For example, we have clients with anywhere from a few hundred to a thousand of wireless devices and … we look at that and say ‘OK, what kind of pooling plans can we come up with?’

How has TEM evolved over the years?

Poirior: Competitors out there today are doing the contingency [model], where they’ll say ‘provide me three months of your bills and we’ll audit those, and if we find savings we get to keep X percent of the savings.’ [But] our feeling is that’s really more transactional based than relationship based, and it’s kind of a one time, get in and get out [model].

The existence of the TEM industry, in my opinion, started off that way. Unfortunately, it has a tendency to become very tenuous, where the [company] might say ‘We led you to that savings opportunity.’ Sometimes people are finding hundreds of thousands of dollars, and the client is very reluctant to give 50 percent of that away.

What’s a better way?

Poirior: What we sell is the option of outsourcing. We’ll have clients that will come to us and say, [for example,] ‘We’re really good at contract negotiations, but we don’t do a good job at inventory and deep dive audits.’

I understand Valicom also now offers SaaS (News - Alert)-based solutions.

Poirior: The newest piece that we launched, in February of this year, is the SaaS version of our proprietary software called Clearview.

In 2009 we completely reviewed the competition and found the middle market was severely underserved as it relates to telecom expense management. We decided that we are still going to continue to serve the enterprise-level market. But we are also going to share the 20 years of expertise we’ve collected, and that we have woven into our software, to offer this to the middle market. Quite frankly, we are trying to disrupt the market.

TEM is becoming a growing challenge – and requirement – for companies of all sizes in light of the number of services and providers from which to choose. Explain why.

Poirior: Part of it is the complexity. What companies have typically not been able to respond with is to add a lot of on-site resources that are trained in telecom specifically and are dedicated to this. Typically what we have [seen at many companies] is receptionists have responsibility to review bills. A lot of organizations, even government, might say ‘if the bill is within 15 percent of the previous month’s bill we’ll just pay it.’ But no one has [checked] if the original bill that is billing from is accurate in the first place.

What kinds of billing errors are most common, and why are they happening?

Poirior: Most of the billing errors that we’re seeing are just flat out neglect…. We’ve had clients that have said ‘We shut down those services; we haven’t even had that building for years.’

They may have put in an order to the carrier to disconnect circuits, but [the carrier] never did. So the biggest things would probably be follow through and awareness.

For more information on TEM, visit to get Valicom’s white paper, titled “Can Telecom Expense Management SaaS Solutions Lower Telecom Costs For Mid Market Companies?” For a direct link to the document, try

Edited by Jaclyn Allard


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