10 Telecommunications Questions You Need To Ask

Here at Dog and Bone we conduct a lot of Telecommunications Tenders, and we invariably save our clients a great deal of money, time and heartache in the process.

A key part of the tendering process is determining an organisation’s specific needs. If you don’t know what you have, you don’t know what you need.

Every organisation is different, even within the same sector. Whilst there are of course common requirements across many organisations, there are always important points of difference.

Lazily applying one-size-fits-all approaches is one of the ways by which the telco industry gained its reputation for unscrupulousness. It’s one of the things we work hard to combat.

We’ve found that the more you know about your current situation, the better placed you will be to  work out what you need, and better able to resist sales spiels, fads masquerading as solutions and solutions to problems you don’t have. Forewarned is forearmed, knowledge is power and other assorted clichés.

In order to help you better understand your organisation’s Telecommunications Strategy and positioning, Dog and Bone has come up with ten essential questions you need to ask yourself before entering into a Telecommunications Tender and Review process.

In assessing each of the areas, it is important to consider your organisation’s Risk / Capability.

1.       Do you feel your use of Telecommunications is supporting a competitive advantage?

This largely speaks for itself, I suppose, but you need to honestly consider whether your organisation is being held back, or at any rate not helped, by your current Telecommunications deployment. Is it something that’s just ‘there’, because it has to be?

2.       Do you have a current Telecommunications Strategy, or is Telecommunications covered in adequate detail in your ICT strategy?

If so, is it meeting your organisation’s requirements? Does this strategy promote or inhibit organisational growth?

3.       Do you have key hardware that is old, or nearing end of life?

This can include an aging mobile fleet. What about your core phone systems? (These typically have a life span of approx. 5 to 7 years.) Do you rely heavily on the old-style copper network (e.g. PSTN, ISDN) and do you have a plan in place to migrate to SIP and VoIP?

4.       Do your Asset Registers accurately reflect the operating environment?

For example, do you know what services support lift/alarm/ADSL services? Are all mobile phones accounted for an properly assigned to the correct users?

5.       How do you feel your incumbent vendor meets your needs and responds to organisational requests?

Your relationship with your telco providers is a very important one. Do you only hear from your account executive when it’s time to sign a new contract? Are they working actively to retain your business? In most cases, you have a choice of vendors.

6.       Are you able to identify and understand where significant variations in expenditure occur from month to month?

Every company has usage and cost spikes from month to month. Some of these are normal, but often they aren’t, and they can reveal pain points that really need to be addressed.

7.       Are you satisfied with your Acceptable Use and Procurement Policy frameworks, and do staff understand and abide by them?

You’d be amazed how organisation we come across whose staff have never even seen these documents. You don’t have to rule with an iron fist, but it doesn’t hurt to make these frameworks visible and enforceable.

8.       Are you aware of your current contract status and associated liabilities?

Very important, as you’re no doubt aware. Again, you’d be amazed how few organisations have this information readily to hand.

9.       Are you maximising your purchasing power when negotiating new contracts (e.g. consolidating accounts and entities)?

Especially in the NFP sector, organisations tend to grow quite organically, responding to funding wins or losses or specific programs being brought on/off and increasing absorbing or merging with other organisations as they go. Often this entails acquiring legacy systems, and very often results in a vast array of varied and potentially incompatible systems and accounts. Consolidating these into a few (or even one) account has myriad benefits, not least of which is increased purchasing – and therefore negotiating – power.

10.   Are you eligible for TPAMS2025?

Lest you hadn’t heard, the Victorian State Government has recently released is new TPAMS pricing construct, called TPAMS2025. More information can be found here. The long and short of it is that TPAMS provides access to very good ICT products and pricing across a range of vendors, assuming you’re eligible. Eligibility criteria mainly consist of being at least 25% Victorian State Government funded.

However, even if you aren’t eligible for TPAMS2025, are you an NFP? If so, you might be eligible for similar pricing.

It just requires some skilful negotiation, and a detailed knowledge of exactly where your organisation is placed when it comes to Telecommunications. Answering these ten questions frankly can go a long way towards gaining that knowledge.