Why should I use a Technology Consultant?
It isnít easy to pick a telecommunications carrier. The lowest cost per minute doesn't always win.
In addition to the cost per minute (CPM) there are many other factors to consider including access costs, advanced services, shared access, reliability and contract terms to name a few. In one recent procurement it turned out that the total costs for the carrier with the lowest CPM were actually over $250,000 per year higher than the one with the highest CPM.
Your consultant will help you understand the various trade-offs and use a life cycle cost analysis that will give you a true picture of the financial implications of each choice.
Every sales person is limited in the products they can offer.
Skill levels and experience vary widely, and even the most experienced representatives are usually not familiar with todayís bewildering variety of customer premise voice and data equipment. You should also consider the fact that the sales personís recommendation is limited to the product offerings of his/her company, and may be colored by factors that have nothing to do with your requirements such as quotas, promotions and sales contests.
Your consultant understands both the carrier and the customer premise equipment, allowing him/her to develop the system design the best fits your requirements. As an independent, he/she is not wedded to a particular vendor or product line, but will pick the carrier services that result in the best value for you, even to the point of combining offerings from different carriers to get the job done.
Telecommunications contracts can be negotiated, even with the major local and LD carriers.
Every carrier and vendor will negotiate contract terms and conditions. Ranging from business downturn to service level agreements these terms and conditions can have a major impact on your business.
Your consultant is experienced in negotiating contracts. He/she has already gone through this process with very large accounts, and knows where the suppliers will bend. They also know what particular terms are most significant to you as the user.
The carrier or vendor won't handle all of the installation details.
The carrier typically will not send people on-site, and will never touch your premise equipment. Their responsibility ends at what is called the demarcation point. All cabling and equipment from that point inward are your responsibility. Likewise, the equipment vendor will not touch carrier equipment, and many will charge you for any coordination work they have to do. Many problems leave you stuck in the middle as the carrier and your equipment vendor each blame the other.
With one foot in each world your consultant will cut through the noise and provide the coordination necessary to make it work. He/She takes full responsibility for management of the project, and our depth of experience in this area helps cut through the blame game.
The Vendor's Project Goals are Rarely Aligned with the Customer's Project Goals
In fact, they are quite frequently at odds. The Vendor's project manager is tasked with completing the job at the lowest possible cost consistent with the contract. The Customer's objective is to maximize the value the new technology brings to the organization. One of the primary ways to limit implementation cost is to minimize customization and complexity. Yet it is this same customization and complexity that tailors the technology to your organization's unique requirements. In this dynamic, the Vendor uses professional project managers, while most Customers' in-house staff do not have anywhere near the same level of experience in implementing new systems (the typical company only installes a new phone system every 5 to 7 years). Your consultant levels the playing field by bringing the same (and frequently better) skills to your side of the table, making sure that the system is designed and installed so as to maximize your return on the investment.
You typically can't verify the rates by just looking at the bill.
For a variety of regulatory and other considerations, telephone bills are very difficult to decipher, particularly for the uninitiated. Your consultant is intimately familiar with the arcane world of telephone company billing. This familiarity, in combination with proprietary analysis tools, allows him/her to audit and verify all of your charges. Quite frequently this has a side benefit of identifying past overcharges than can result in some substantial credits.
Just calling the "800 number" may not get problems resolved in a timely fashion.
Most carriers have multiple toll free numbers for repair, and a call to the wrong one can result in significant delays in response. Once you do get through, you need to be able to provide details of the problems, including circuit numbers.
We keep all the information necessary to diagnose and report problems on hand. This allows us to identify the most likely cause, call the proper number, and provide the necessary information to facilitate fast repair. We also have a database of contacts that allow us to escalate problems up to the highest management levels. Additionally, our people are on-call 24x7x365, improving the chances that problems can be resolved before they affect your customers.
Consultants arenít expensive.
Just the opposite. A good consultant will save you money. In every procurement we have managed the savings resulting from our design and negotiating expertise have more than covered the consulting fees, in many cases many times over. One recent project entailed a complete replacement of PABX, Voice Mail and Call Center hardware combined with a network design that increased capacity and reliability by 300%. Including equipment lease payments and carrier fixed charges, the total monthly cost turned out to be lower than the client had been paying before the upgrade. The demonstrable return on the consulting investment was 542%. While not guaranteed, results like these are more the norm than the exception.