Choosing the right Telecom Expense Management (TEM) vendor for your business starts with asking the right questions. The questions you ask as part of your structured Request for Proposal (RFP) will help guide your decision-making so you can get the most out of your TEM vendor.
With this in mind, here are some often overlooked questions you should include as part of your RFP, to ensure you’re covered.
What Problem Am I Trying to Solve?
This may seem obvious, but it’s the question that will guide the majority of your decision-making and serves at the starting point for your enquiries.
For your RFP to be successful you need to include as much detail as possible when setting out your requirements during the telecom procurement process, ensuring you have an ideal end-result in mind. Set out the challenges that you face in TEM and what specific changes you want as a result of your TEM service.
Do You Require Software or Service?
It’s important to set out whether you require a software platform for your own teams to use or whether you’d benefit more from a service partner that manages your enterprise telecom requirements themselves.
Some TEM providers will be exclusively software-based, so you should ask for clear information on the services that prospective providers will offer, so you know what level of service you're getting from the outset.
Be clear about what tasks and processes you want to handle internally, and the tasks you require your TEM provider to take over.
Are Your SLAs Aligned to Your Internal Team's Performance?
Following on from the previous point, if you require a service partner, then your TEM contract should include performance-based service-level agreements (SLAs) to ensure your deliverables are met.
Your SLAs should be aligned with your internal teams and be built with their performance in mind. For example, your existing response, processing, and payment timelines should be taken into account when agreeing on terms with your TEM vendor.
This ensures that the SLAs incorporate the current capabilities of your teams so improvements, optimisations, and performance indicators can be better visualised and agreed upon.
How Long Has the TEM Vendor Been in Business?
An established TEM provider who has long-standing experience managing a broad range of enterprise telecommunications worldwide will be a better fit than one in their infancy. Having years of experience and internal expertise will be crucial when handling multiple complex accounts and satisfying your individual requirements.
Search for a TEM partner that offers longevity for the future, not just a short-term software provider offering a quick fix. So, in your TEM RFP you should ensure you ask about the long-term strategy of the vendor and get evidence that they can support it. Vendor stability should not be an afterthought and should be at the forefront of your inquiries.
Is the TEM Vendor Suitable for the Long-term?
To this end, take a look at information pertaining to the company's ownership. Things like income, cash flow statements, and acquisition history will provide you with a good sense of whether the chosen vendor has the financial capacity to support your strategy. It will also give you an idea of their credibility as a long-term provider.
As many vendors have short-term investors, it’s important to see tangible evidence that they’ll be around in the years to come to support you. This way, you’ll be able to pick a vendor with longevity in mind and won’t be at risk of repeated disruptions from multiple short-term vendors.
What Levels of Service Do They Provide?
You should look for a TEM vendor that has experience managing clients with a similar level of spend and requirements to ensure that they can meet and exceed your needs.
Do they offer regional support? Are they familiar with and experts in high volumes of products? Do they offer full life-cycle solutions? Can they deliver on a global scale? These questions are vital and worth considering when deciding on a TEM provider that suits your business.
The Right TEM Vendor For You
Your RFP is a vital part of procuring the right TEM vendor for your company. When the vendor understands exactly what your requirements are, you can begin your relationship on the same page.
Equally, once you understand the problems you need to solve and level of service offered by a vendor, you can make better, informed decisions.
To learn about the current state of the TEM industry, with up-to-date insights and advice, download the Gartner TEM Market Guide now.