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Telco questions you should be asking

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 common requirements across many organisations, there are always important points of difference.

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.

In order to help you better understand your organisation’s telecommunications strategy and positioning, we’ve come up with essential questions you need to ask yourself before entering into a telco tender and review process.

Is your use of telecommunications supporting a competitive advantage?

The right telecommunications deployment helps non-profits to communicate more efficiently and effectively with their employees, customers, and partners. This can lead to improved productivity, enhanced customer service, and better collaboration between teams.

However, if a charity’s services and systems are outdated or inefficient, it could hold them back and limit their ability to compete. For example, if employees are struggling with slow or unreliable internet connections, it can lead to frustration and decreased productivity. Similarly, if customers experience long wait times or difficulty reaching customer service representatives, it can lead to a negative experience and a loss of business.

Consider whether your current telco ecosystem it is helping or hindering your ability to compete.

Do you have a current Telecommunications Strategy?

A comprehensive telco strategy should cover a range of topics and considerations, such as:

  • Business Goals and Objectives: This ensures that the telecommunications deployment supports the needs of the business and enables it to achieve its goals.

  • Technology and Infrastructure: This includes evaluating current systems and identifying any gaps or areas for improvement, as well as considering emerging technologies and trends that could be leveraged.

  • Security and Privacy: This includes identifying potential risks and implementing measures to mitigate them.

  • User Needs and Experience: This involves considering factors such as ease of use, reliability, and accessibility, and ensuring that the needs of different user groups are met.

  • Cost Management: Identifying opportunities for cost savings and optimising spending on telecommunications systems and services.

These areas are often also covered by a broader organisational IT Strategy.

Are all your business communications systems unified?

The reality for most workplaces is now a hybrid of office and remote working. It's important to maintain connection, collaboration and the quality of your services.

Many organisations find themselves using different technologies and platforms to communicate and collaborate. With the technologies available now you can move everything from your phone system, instant messaging and document collaboration into one platform so it's more efficient and easier to use.

Choosing the right Unified Communications platform can often be confusing without fully understanding your requirements for usage.

Here are some thought-starters:

  • Do you need a Contact Centre for our reception staff?

  • What reporting do I need? Do staff need direct phone lines?

  • How mobile will everyone be?

  • Do we need to directly transfer calls to staff at their desks?

  • Do we need to check everyone’s availability status?

Is any of your key hardware nearing end of life?

It is wise to regularly assess the age, condition, and performance of your current hardware and mobile device inventory. Determine which devices are no longer meeting your business needs or are nearing the end of their useful life, and begin planning for replacement.

  • Have you considered your core phone systems? These typically have a life span of approximately five to seven years.

  • Do you rely heavily on the old-style copper network such as PSTN or ISDN? If so, do you have a plan in place to migrate to SIP and VoIP?

It’s also important to have a clear policy and plan for what to replace your devices with.

  • Will you provide all staff with a mobile phone or just for some roles or allow bring-your-own-device (BYOD) arrangements?

  • Do staff need a handset on the desk to answer the phone, or can they use a headset connected to their desktop and a telephony app?

Do you actively manage your mobile device fleet?

In any business with large numbers of staff, keeping track of mobile devices can be challenging. A well maintained and regularly reviewed asset register allows charities to keep track of the number and location of their mobile devices, as well as their status and condition. This helps them to effectively manage their inventory and avoid loss or theft of devices.

Whether its reduced telco spend, solving asset management issues, financial reporting or securing organisational resources, mobile device management (MDM) can address many of the problems organisations face with their telco.

Do you monitor and proactively address mobile data usage?

Many organisations have experienced bill shock, where their mobile costs have had a significant and unexpected spike. This can be avoided through pooling mobile data and proactive management of usage, removing the risk of excess data charges and consequently inflated bill spend.

Without the right supports and systems in place, this can be a time-consuming and confusing exercise to carefully manage your data pools while keeping plan costs as low as possible.

Does your current telco vendor meet your needs?

Your relationship with your telco provider is very important, and for most modern businesses is critical to their ongoing success. When thinking about your vendor, consider the following:

  • Reliability: It's important to work with a vendor that offers reliable services with minimal downtime or service disruptions. Look for vendors that have a track record of providing reliable services and that offer service level agreements (SLAs) to guarantee uptime and response times.

  • Technical Expertise: Telco services can be complex, so it's important to ensure you have access to knowledgeable and experienced technical staff.

  • Cost-effectiveness: Many charities and not-for-profits are eligible for reduced telco rates, so it’s worth exploring this with your vendor. Read our article to learn more about how charity telco pricing works.

  • Scalability: Business needs can change rapidly, so it's important to work with a vendor that can scale their services to meet your changing needs.

  • Customer Service: Your vendor should be responsive to your needs and that have a dedicated support team that is available to assist you with any issues or questions that arise.

  • Security: NFPs deal with a lot of sensitive data, so it's important to work with a vendor that takes security seriously. Look for vendors that have robust security measures in place, such as encryption, firewalls, and intrusion detection and prevention systems, and that follow industry best practices for data security.

Are you able to keep track of variations in your telco costs month-to-month?

Every organisation has usage and cost spikes from month to month due to factors such as increased demand, operational changes and more. However, close monitoring of ongoing usage and costs can reveal pain points that really need to be addressed, such as no-usage services, incorrect plans, incorrectly applied excess charges and so on.

Understanding your usage also gives you the opportunity to adjust your plans and data pools to reduce costs, monitor appropriate usage as well as avoiding excess data usage.

Do you have Acceptable Use and Procurement Policies, and do staff abide by them?

These policies contain a set of guidelines and rules that outline the appropriate uses of technology and technology resources within an organisation. Things such as who are the authorised users, what constitutes acceptable personal use, and maintaining organisational security to name a few.

Ensuring these frameworks are visible and enforceable promotes responsible, ethical, and legal use of technology while protecting the organisation's network and resources. There are also a range of tools such as Mobile Device Management (MDM) that can help you implement or enforce these policies.

Do you have a technology fund as part of your telco contract?

Many telco contracts have a component that provides a credit for you to use to purchase hardware or services, nominally called a ‘tech fund’. This is often a good way to help fund the replacements of your mobile phones or networking hardware.

However, these credits frequently are forgotten or overlooked and subsequently go unused, so proactive management of this is important to ensure you get those most value out of your tech fund and telco contract.

Are you maximising your purchasing power and charity status when negotiating new contracts?

Especially in the NFP sector, organisations tend to grow quite organically. Funding wins or losses, specific programs being brought on or off, and merging with other organisations.

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 accounts (or even just one) has myriad benefits, not least of which is increased purchasing – and therefore negotiating – power.

It is also important to ensure that you are leveraging the discounted pricing constructs that may be available to you based on your charity status that may offer you massive savings but your vendor may not automatically offer to you.

Anything we’ve missed?

Our team are experts in all things telco, from charity pricing constructs and services through to mobile plan optimisation, contract negotiation and Mobile Device Management.

Give us a call on (03) 9403 5700 or fill in your information and we’ll get in touch with you to discuss how we can help you save on your telco costs.