Telecommunications systems are the foundation for business operations, but over time, these systems (and the IT networks that support them) have become increasingly outdated and complex, characterized by legacy technologies and a growing number of systems and providers connecting highly distributed remote workers and office locations. Modernizing communications amid this intricate web has made telecom inventory management more important, yet more challenging.
To make sense of it all, companies must gain visibility and control over their existing telecommunication systems and services, so they can upgrade from legacy landline or copper to fiber networks or VoIP and cloud-based communications. But first, they need an inventory of all their current telecom resources. This makes telecom inventory management a critical first step in modernization and management. It requires assessing a broad variety of legacy telecom systems, services, and assets with the aim of delivering next-generation experiences and “always-on” connectivity to every user collaborating across every channel.
If you’re facing these challenges, you’re not alone. Studies show telecom inventory management is one of the primary challenges organizations face. While advances in cloud-based unified communications, remote workforces and agile IT networking add numerous benefits, they can also bring additional considerations for tracking and managing a comprehensive catalog of communications resources. It’s time to reassess telecom inventories to better understand, modernize and govern corporate communications systems.
Review what telecom inventory management is, why your business needs it and what types of telecom inventory management solutions are available.
Telecom inventory management is the process of tracking and managing an accurate list of telecommunications services, equipment and related assets used by a company. This covers a wide range of telecom inventory such as fixed wireline voice, data and network resources. This can include various hardware and software, such as desk phones, softphones, video and tele-conferencing devices, as well as legacy and modern communications systems, POT lines, PBX equipment, IP telephony, modems, Wi-Fi, routers, servers, cables and other related equipment and services.
Telecom inventory management also includes tracking and managing data network and VoIP circuits, broadband and internet connections. Telecom inventories also include network and telecom service providers — voice and data communications plans, internet services, and cloud-based services connecting users to unified communications applications and IT infrastructure. These are critical for businesses to exchange information, manage day-to-day operations and meet business objectives.
Telecom inventory management plays a crucial role in ensuring a business’s telecommunication service and network infrastructure is delivering efficiently on the requirements of the business. It’s important to keep track of telecom inventory to upgrade and optimize current services, making the best use of emerging technology, data plans and enabling informed decisions about fulfilling potential gaps in collaboration services or future connectivity needs.
The process involves monitoring and analyzing various metrics, such as utilization, uptime and cost to identify areas of improvement. With this information, businesses can take proactive steps to optimize their telecom service and improve their overall business continuity, getting the best service at the best price. Proper inventory management also helps with renegotiating service contracts or switching to a different provider.
In the past, many businesses managed their telecom inventory data with manual processes such as spreadsheets or physical inventory checks. However, as businesses scale, these processes become time-consuming and prone to human errors. To automate manual tracking processes, many companies turn to telecom inventory management systems. These technology platforms help organizations audit, track and manage telecom assets, services and expenses – including contracts, service agreements and non-physical assets.
As companies of all sizes upgrade their communications systems, the telecom inventory becomes an essential tool supporting the cloud migration plan. Modernization efforts include moving from legacy POTs lines and PBX telephone systems to Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) systems, as well as SIP trunking and unified communications as a service (UCaaS) platforms. VoIP and UCaaS systems allow businesses to make voice calls over the internet, rather than relying on traditional telephone lines. This can reduce costs and increase scalability.
Many businesses are also transitioning from Primary Rate Interface (PRI) lines to Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) trunking, which allows for more efficient use of bandwidth and can cut costs.
Another example of a communications system upgrade aided by effective telecom inventory management is the move from private to public network services, trading out their traditional telecom services. For example, many businesses are moving from Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) to Software-Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN) technologies, which offer lower costs and greater flexibility and control over network traffic.
Telecom inventory management serves as the official record of equipment as companies transition to modern communications systems and technologies. It’s essential for businesses to understand usage, trends, costs and other critical information. This understanding enables businesses to make informed decisions about their voice and data services, including what’s required of a modernization plan, which plans are best suited to their needs and whether they should consider moving to a different provider. Effective telecom inventory management can also help businesses identify areas where they may be overspending or underutilizing their existing services.
Manual tasks used in telecom inventory management can lead to difficulties in tracking, managing, recycling and updating inventory. This can create blindspots as well as inefficiencies in the inventory process and lead to higher costs and longer lead times.
For example, companies relying on spreadsheets or paper-based records to track inventory will struggle to have real-time insights. Manually counting and recording inventory takes up significant time for your workforce and increases the likelihood of errors that can have long-term effects on operations and forecasting.
Using a telecom inventory management system can help you understand your business and make more informed decisions. Here are some benefits of these systems.
One of the key benefits of a telecom network inventory management system is improved visibility. By gaining visibility into all your communications systems and assets, you can better understand what you have, who is using it and how, as well as what applications, access methodologies and services are in use. This level of understanding is essential for communications modernization efforts and, enabling a remote workforce, but also for comprehensive security and compliance.
It’s important to understand how much it costs your organization to enable communications and data exchange. This allows you to achieve more telecom efficiency and widen protections for your entire community by understanding your communications tools and their security risks.
Disciplined processes and automated inventory management eliminates the risk of errors associated with manual processes. Keeping asset data accurate and up to date, for example, can help companies avoid overpaying for telecom services or wasting money on telecom plans that are overprovisioned.
An accurate inventory of your communications systems, services and cloud communications applications will allow you to glean intelligence that can be used to make innovation, policy, security and compliance decisions. By identifying both monitored and unmonitored communication channels, you can tighten controls and improve necessary recordkeeping.
Telecom inventory management software and telecom expense management platforms automate service information and data collection processes, centralize information, and automate financial management tasks that are often done manually and scattered across the business. This gives your staff more time to focus on the business at hand. With automated invoicing and expense management tools, you streamline the billing process and reduce the time and effort required to manage your telecom expenses.
The visibility, automation and service analysis performed by telecom network inventory management systems saves money by helping identify cost-saving opportunities. Telecom inventory management software tracks service usage patterns, providing insight into where wired telecom services should be adjusted. It can identify where underutilized assets should be phased out or reallocated and where contracts should be renegotiated to more closely match pricing benchmarks considered standard for the industry at the time.
Because you’re tracking inventory more effectively, the business avoids penalties and fees associated with exceeding data limits or making international phone calls on a domestic-only plan.
Keeping track of the current service users and their locations helps in ensuring that assets are accounted for. This data field can also help in managing contact centers, determining which assets have already migrated to the cloud, and which are ready for upgrade.
Assigning each asset or service to a cost center or department helps financial managers chargeback telecom expenses, holding each line of business fiscally responsible for the services they use. It also helps in budget planning and forecasting.
When selecting a telecom inventory management system, start by looking at the size and complexity of your telecom network. This calculation includes the number of services, locations and communication systems that need to be tracked, as well as the level of detail required in inventory records.
Here are other important considerations when looking for the right telecom inventory management service.
Consider how the inventory management platform or service will capture information and the level of integration needed to automatically collect information from corporate systems, such as financial systems, ERP, EMM and customer relationship management systems. Integrating with other key business systems enables the benefits of scale, automation and real-time visibility.
Your telecom inventory management system should be scalable and flexible enough to accommodate your current and future business needs. As your network grows, you’ll need a telecom inventory management system that can handle an increase in communications service providers and network complexity.
A good telecom inventory management system should provide robust reporting and analytics capabilities to help you make informed business decisions and recommendations to reduce costs and use services more efficiently. Look for a telecom inventory management system that offers customizable reporting, real-time analytics and the ability to export data in various formats.
Telecom networks handle sensitive and confidential information, so your telecom inventory management system must support compliance, enabling applicable industry standards and regulations.
A telecom inventory management system that’s easy to use and intuitive will reduce the learning curve and increase employee productivity. Choose a telecom inventory management system that provides a simple and streamlined user interface, as well as mobile access.
Investing in a telecom inventory management solution is a long-term decision that affects your ability to track and manage inventory and costs while keeping equipment and data secure. Look for a provider that understands your needs, provides support before and after implementation and will grow with your needs.
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