Every company at one time or another uses external consultants to help cut costs and / or help with the management of specific projects. Telecommunications is an area where consultants can not only help your business reduce expenses, but can also provide ongoing support as your business grows and your telecommunications needs change.
Deciding which consulting firm to incorporate can be tricky. The options are vast. Most companies have a good reputation, but the industry is full of “fly by night” companies looking to make a quick buck by conducting inadequate telecommunications audits and / or selling telecommunications services under the guise of being a “consulting company.” telecommunications “. Before deciding which company to go with, arm yourself with the following questions to help you tell the good from the bad.
# 1 How long have you been in business?
This seems like an obvious and logical first question. Many companies do not ask, and if they do, they do not give it a high degree of importance.
The deregulation of the industry in 1984 saw the beginning of massive changes throughout the industry. It is safe to say that the changes in the telecommunications industry during the last 20 years have been greater than those of the previous 100 years. During this time, hundreds of new telecommunications operators were generated, each with its own systems and processes. Selecting a consulting firm that is established enough to have experienced these industry changes first-hand will provide you with a tremendous amount of knowledge and experience in dealing with carriers.
Choose a consulting firm that has been in business for at least 10 years, preferably 20 years or more. An organization that has been in the telecommunications consulting game for so long will have an excellent track record of success for its clients.
# 2 What area of telecommunications consulting is your specialization?
When interviewing potential telecom consulting firms, be sure to ask them what areas they think are their strengths. A prospective telecommunications consultant will assume that you have narrowed down your own specific telecommunications needs and / or issues that you want and need to address.
Although you may not be able to identify a specific problem, write down your general telecommunications concerns. For example: Are you looking to reduce costs through telecommunications auditing? Does your department need to be more efficient with paying bills, moves, additions or changes? Looking to upgrade or replace equipment? Looking for telecommunications training for your staff? Thinking of migrating to a VoIP environment?
These questions deal with different aspects of telecommunications. Once you have focused on your own specific telecommunications needs, it will be much easier to match those concerns with the strong areas of expertise of the prospective consultant. The closer the match is, the better.
# 3 What is the size of your consulting company?
The telecommunications “collapse” and widespread layoffs in the mid to late 1990s led many telecommunications executives to enter the telecommunications consulting field. Even the operator’s sales or customer service representatives tried their hand at telecommunications consulting. These “one-man stores” can offer flexibility and individual attention, but be careful when choosing to entrust your entire telecommunications department.
These consultants will often assign work to larger companies and essentially act as intermediaries without your knowledge. On the other hand, big is not necessarily always better. Large companies will often only work with companies that spend more than $ 100,000 or more per month on telecommunications expenses. Before hiring any telecommunications consultant, make sure you understand exactly who will do the work and identify the contact person responsible for progress reports, updates, and answers to your questions throughout the project.
# 4 Can you provide specific case studies and results from your current or past clients?
A successful and reputable consulting firm will have experience in a wide variety of industries. When asking for referrals, don’t just get a few names and numbers to call. Ask to see specific projects that have been completed for clients in your industry or a similar one. If you are looking for telecom audit services, ask to see specific results of recent audits that have been completed.
Ideally, this information should include the specific recommendations that were made and the percentage of cost reduction achieved after the audit was completed. Look for a company that is consistently successful in a variety of industries.
# 5 What are your fees and how are they structured?
Today’s telecommunications consulting industry contains a variety of rate structures and rate agreements. Ultimately, the assessment of services and the procedures by which fees are structured are matters of personal preference and should be based on the full agreement between the consultant and the client. Rates will generally fall into one of three categories: hourly or per diem, project or rate, and contingencies.
Time-based projects can be billed by the hour or per diem and may include consultant fees. Fee-based projects are for those that are clearly defined but may require most of the work of both the client and the consultant. Contingency arrangements may be the most popular, especially for telecommunications auditing.
Contingency arrangements are based on the results achieved by the client, generally a percentage of the cost savings generated during a period of 12 to 24 months. Beware of companies that require large advances or advance payments. A reputable consulting firm will suggest the rate arrangement that suits not only the project, but also your needs and budget. Very low quotes may suggest “hot plate” solutions that could cost your business more in the long run. No business can survive without being paid reasonable compensation for services rendered. As in most business situations, you “get what you pay for.”
# 6 Do suppliers or carriers compensate you?
If you are quoted a very inexpensive rate agreement for telecommunications consulting services, you may be dealing with a company whose final recommendations will be products and services for which they receive commissions.
Telecommunications consulting services must be impartial and based on recommendations that are in the best interest of the client. Very small businesses (1-3 person operations) are known to get you in the front door with very low cost auditing services, and then look for the “backend” by recommending their own operators and / or vendors. Always ensure that the company you are dealing with does not have (financial) affiliations with telecommunications vendors and vendors.
There is no doubt that hiring a telecommunications consulting company will help your business reduce expenses and increase efficiency. Asking the right questions will save you time and money in finding the telecommunications consulting company that best meets your needs.