Before You Go Forward, You Need to Look Back!

There are many philosophies on what the past can bring.  If you fail to examine your history, you are destined to repeat it.  But there are also those that claim the past is past and there is nothing you can do about it.  However, when it comes to telecom projects, knowing your past is critical to understanding how you can move forward.  Too often, organizations rely on their working knowledge of their current services and do not fully explore the details.  For many, telecom services have not been changed in years and many times, the changes were managed by those no longer with the organization.  Without a detailed baseline of your current services and how they are utilized, the opportunity to miss something is magnified.

Of course, collecting this information can be both tedious and time consuming and your telephone bills provide very little information, but here are some elements that deserve some exploration as a function of your current baseline.

  1. Service Details

Most organizations have local voice, Internet and usage services.  They may be bundled or integrated, but the services exist.  And, for organizations with multiple locations, these same services are utilized at all the sites, plus some potential data network services that interconnect the sites.

  • Carrier List – What carriers do you use for each of the voice, data, usage and Internet services? Do you have current contact telephone numbers should you need help?
  • Current Costs – Do you know how much you are paying for each element of your telecommunications network? Do your bills match your expectations?  Are you paying for services you are no longer using?
  • Telephone Numbers – What sets and/or blocks of telephone numbers are located at each site? What are the telephone numbers used for?  Do you have fax, security, alarm lines?  Are there lines no longer needed?
  • Circuit IDs – What are the circuit id’s for your services? Do you know where they enter your building?  Are they extended from this original point to where your equipment resides?
  • Bundled Services – Do you have local, long distance and toll free services bundled with your services? Are you using everything you are paying for?  Is your local service integrated with your Internet?  How is your respective capacity impacted by other applications utilizing the same access facilities?
  • Business Continuity – If you have a current plan, do you know how services are to fail over should there be service outages? Are there ample spare capacity to support your plan?
  1. Contractual Obligations

Even if you have original copies of your contracts, there are many organizations that have received unexpected liabilities by making changes without fully understanding the terms of the agreement.

  • Contract End Date – Did your contract term begin on the countersigned date? Is it based on the actual implementation of the services?  Were changes made to specific elements of your agreement based on changes made within the term?
  • End Date Expectations – Did your contract automatically renew for an extended term? Do the monthly charges revert to non-contractual rates that could be much higher?  Is written notification expected so changes are not automatically applied?
  • Liabilities – Depending on your future plans, do you understand the potential costs associated with the end of your current contracts? If your timeline for conversion is extended unexpectedly, do you understand the overlap costs?
  1. Current Challenges

In which areas has your organization suffered over the last few years that a new design should reflect?

  • Capacity – Would your organization benefit from greater Internet capacity? Do callers receive busy signals when trying to contact your organization?  Is limited capacity in your data network impacting enterprise productivity?  In reverse, are you paying for capacity you no longer require?
  • Business Continuity – Have you examined all your potential points of failure to ensure they have been addressed? How much money does your organization lose should you be offline for an hour, a day or more?
  • Call Flow – Do you understand how telephone numbers are routed throughout your organization? Could improved call flow increase productivity?
  • Complex Billing – Would simplified billing enable you to better manage your services? Do you cut too many checks each month?  If costs deviate month to month, do you know why?

It is our recommendation you always have a solid baseline of services even if you are not considering new options.  It will help provide a resource to manage change.  But, this vital information is increasingly important as you consider alternatives.  Not only does it provide a solid base from which new options can be easily compared, but it also ensures you have all the elements covered as you look to new solutions.  It will also significantly reduce the opportunity for surprises along the way.

Again, this is not an easy process.  Your carriers are not motivated to provide you information that eases the opportunity for you to leave them.  But, the time spent creating this baseline will save you endless time and potential expense as you move forward.  If this task seems way too overwhelming for you, maybe it is time to reach out to Orion Communications.  We are here to help.