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Tips to Optimize Office Communications Expenses


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In 2020, many organizations were relieved to see that their operations continued with employees working from home. Thoughts of looking at the unused office-centric communications expenses were predominantly brushed aside as executives and employees anticipated everyone might come back. Most of the thinking revolved around the idea, “we’ll keep paying for services we aren’t using.”
As time passes, it feels like many of us will never return to the office because most of us will work from home (WFH) indefinitely or forever, as I previously mentioned in this related WorkSpace Connect article. Most organizations may not know where to begin when it comes to right-sizing office communications services and costs. There are many variables to consider, and one approach doesn’t fit all. To get started, here are 12 basic questions for which you will need answers.
  1. Do you have a complete inventory of all communications services paid monthly, including fixed network services, mobile services, cloud-based services, and related hardware and licenses? If not, I suggest you get one, as this will be a required baseline before making most changes.
  2. What are you paying for all of the above monthly?
  3. Determine current levels of use of these services with employees working from home vs. when everyone was in the office—what options exist for measuring this?
  4. Are you contractually obligated to pay for services and equipment for some time in the future, and do contracts provide an option for early termination without penalties?
  5. Are you contractually obligated to spend a certain amount with communications service providers, and will there be a penalty if you remove services, reducing the amount of our spending?
  6. What’s the status of communications technology projects underway before the pandemic and does it still make sense to continue?
  7. What new communications technologies make more sense for our operations? For example, a cloud-based voice communications system vs. premise based? Or do we even need a voice communications system with everyone using their mobile phones and videoconferencing applications like Zoom and Teams?
  8. What services and equipment are getting used by employees working from home are paid for by our organization. What’s the cost?
  9. What services and equipment used by employees working from home are paid for by the employees, and will this continue, or will our organization need to start paying for them?
  10. Do you have a process in place to get input from our customers in terms of how well we are communicating with them and what needs to be improved?
  11. Do you have in-house resources to answer these questions, and if not, what types of outside support do you need?
  12. Is your CIO engaged with others in upper management to ensure their support as the company tackles any needed changes, many in uncharted water?
Getting the answers will likely take some time. Here are a few additional tips that may yield short-term cost savings that can help illustrate possible scenarios for your ongoing expenses.
  • The use of mobile devices for voice, data, video, and Internet access has increased exponentially with employees working from home. Therefore, you should revisit your costs and plans with your mobile service provider. If you haven’t adjusted these plans in the past year, you’re likely paying significantly more than necessary.
  • With newer types of office-based voice communications services, you pay for a certain number of “concurrent calls” (the number of voice calls taking place at the same time). Since there are few people in the office, you likely don’t need the number of concurrent calls you’re paying for, and this is one item you can adjust downward without totally removing existing services.
  • Certain types of communications services (e.g., both fixed and mobile) can be temporarily suspended (usually for a fee), but this lowers the overall ongoing expense. That is a low-risk way to determine whether services are needed or to keep services that may ultimately reduce cost.
  • Look for expired communications services contracts, particularly with your traditional local telephone company. If a contract has expired, costs have likely increased significantly, and you can reduce them by signing a new contract (even for the short term).
If you need help, members of the Society of Communications Technology Consultants (SCTC) can assist.
Jane Laino is President of DIgby 4 Group, Inc., based in New York City. DIgby 4 helps clients manage communications technology with both professional services and cloud hosted systems as a Sakon partner. She is a member of the Society of Communications Technology Consultants.

“SCTC Perspective" is written by members of the Society of Communications Technology Consultants, an international organization of independent information and communications technology professionals serving clients in all business sectors and government worldwide.

The SCTC is offering qualified members of the Enterprise Connect user community a limited, pro bono consulting engagement of approximately 2 - 4 hours. The engagement will include a small discovery, analysis, and a deliverable. There is no obligation to continue beyond the initial engagement. For more information or to apply, please visit us here.