Most enterprises initiating Wireline and Wireless services procurements retain the services of consultants (“Telecom Consultants”). Current pricing information for enterprise Wireless and Wireline services is not publicly available. Competent consultants know trends in service offerings and market pricing.
Who are Telecom Consultants? Generally speaking, Telecom Consultants are individuals, firms or groups within consulting firms that focus almost exclusively on Wireless or Wireline services procurements. Many consultants previously worked in carrier sales or offer management positions and understand the internal incentives and strategies of the carriers. Large, widely-known corporate consulting organizations, telecom technology trend advisers and telecom bill auditing firms are not necessarily experienced or as helpful as qualified consultants.
Services Provided By Telecom Consultants. The services offered by Telecom Consultants vary. While not every consultant offers each service, the principal services offered by Telecom Consultants may be summarized as follows:
1. Finalize the customer’s demand set for inclusion in customer’s RFPs.
– Many RFPs are based on consultants’ templates.
2. Share responsibility with the customer in managing the procurement process.
3. Negotiate the economic elements of the agreements, principally rates, custom plans and commitments.
4. Advise or participate directly in Wireline pricing refresh reviews.
5. Provide billing review, payment, reporting and audit services (telecom expense management services).
Some consultants focus exclusively on Wireless services, others concentrate on domestic and U.S.-centric international services, and some address Wireless and Wireline services for much of the developed world.
Criteria for Selecting Telecom Consultants. Prior working relationships and referrals typically underlie the decision to engage a particular consultant. We recommend that enterprise customers elicit the following information when looking to engage a Telecom Consultant: (a) references from current or recent clients; (b) the services provided by the consultant; and (c) the number of recent procurements (prior 2 years to present) that equal or exceed the customer’s projected annual expenditures and approximate the customer’s mix of services, in terms of (i) wireless, wireline services or both, and (ii) geographic scope—primarily domestic, domestic and international, or domestic, international, and rest-of-world. Relevant experience is essential.
Another consideration is the consultant’s fee structure. The principal fee options include hourly rates, fixed fees or “percentage of savings realized” under the new agreement. We have detected some “buyer’s remorse” by customers that entered into “percentage of savings realized” arrangements.
The “Value-Added” of Telecom Consultants. Customer demand sets, trends in service options, bundles, and pricing change significantly over 3-5 years, the duration of many Wireline services agreements. Wireless service pricing is very dynamic at this time, as well. While many corporate IT and telecom departments monitor trends in technology and services, experienced consultants know the carriers’ current service migration strategies, pricing trends and service plans. Consultants identify carrier ploys of emphasizing projected savings attributable to migrating from older to newer service offerings and redirect the customer’s focus to the market rates for the newer service offerings. In sum, our experience is that customers secure better deals when engaging the services of competent Telecom Consultants.