Thoughts on Wireless

Bits of news and information, tips, expense management techniques, etc.

Upcoming WMTA Presentation

Steve Schafer will be giving a talk on wireless management to the West Michigan Technology Association during the association’s May 20th meeting.  He will be speaking to the group of technology professionals about how to manage Corporate Liable (CL) wireless accounts.  Steve will review three functional areas associated with managing an enterprise wireless service: Carrier Negotiation, Provisioning/Procurement, and Reporting.  Given Matsch’s stance as a Software as a Service (SaaS) provider, particular emphasis will be placed on the reporting aspect, and examples given that show how reporting can have a significant impact on the other two areas being discussed.  The presentation will conclude with practical advice on evaluating the needs of individual businesses, with additional insight being provided by Catherine Lazarock of Symplicity Communications.


Why Manage Your Mobile Environment?

As a person who strives to help employers manage their telecommunication services and spending, I find it somewhat frustrating that so much effort is spent trying to avoid managing cell phones.  Employers recognize that some employees require employer provided cell phones as part of their job and therefore have procedures and policies in place for providing cellular devices.  Typically an individual or group is designated to manage and enforce such a policy.  It is that person or group’s responsibility to make sure that the cell phone services that the employer is paying for meet the needs of the employer.  Is what we are paying reasonable?  Are we being properly billed?  Are there efficiencies that could be gained?  Is there employee abuse?  Are there ways to improve our operation and/or reduce our costs?  There is an excellent article in No Jitter (http://nojitter.com/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=211601136&pgno=1) that highlights what you could be doing to manage your employer provided cell phones.  Please do yourself a favor and take a moment to read this.


Why Employers Don’t Manage Cell Phones – Our Take

As a person who strives to help employers manage their telecommunication services and spending, I find it somewhat frustrating that so much effort is spent trying to avoid managing cell phones.  Employers recognize the need for some employees to have cell phones in order to do their jobs effectively.  Most employers have procedures and policies in place for providing these devices and many have placed an individual or group in charge of fulfilling this need and enforcing the associated policies.  What seems to be missing is any meaningful analysis of this set of resources.  Most other assets within an organization are constantly monitored or measured so leaders within the organization can make decisions about the efficiency and value of the resources.  Questions like “is this resource meeting our needs?” and  “Is what we are paying reasonable?” are just a couple of questions we believe employers should be asking about the service they receive from wireless carriers.  Others, like “Are we being billed correctly?” and “Are there more efficiencies that could be gained?” and “Is there any employee abuse of these resources?” seem to be overlooked routinely.  There is an excellent article in No Jitter that highlights what you could be doing to manage your employer provided cell phones.  Please do yourself a favor and take a moment to read it.  As concerns quality of service, this WSJ article has some interesting facts.


My Wireless Expenses are Killing Me!

While analyzing cellular data for a prospective client it became apparent that they were being hit by overage charges unnecessarily. This particular employer provides over 300 cell phone subscriptions to its employees in a corporate liable environment that is less than fully managed.  One of their carriers billed $11,274 for 120 subscribers in the month of October.  On the surface, you might think this is not an unreasonable amount.  Upon closer inspection however, it was discovered that there were overage charges of $822, international roaming charges of $603, and directory assistance charges of $131.  That’s over $1500 or 14% of the total bill that was due to improper provisioning and possible misuse!  Amazingly, the overage charges were incurred in spite of the fact that as a whole, the company used roughly half of the minutes they purchased from the carrier  (approx. 45,000 of the 80,000 peak minutes purchased were actually used).

Public and private sector employers can avoid situations like the one above and thereby optimize their communication spend dollar.  Proper analysis and reporting are required if employers are to effectively manage their wireless expenses.  This analysis can be tedious and frustrating, however working with a Software as a Service provider like Matsch can offer tremendous benefits.  Imagine being able to distribute costs equitably (with no manual entry required!), having high quality reporting available to all levels of management, and having a set of professionals available who work with this data every day!  Contact Matsch (info@matsch.com) to see how we can help you take the pain out of managing your cellular expenses!


IRS Enforcement of Wireless Devices as ‘Listed Property’ seems Sketchy

Last week we were quite interested to find out about an employer that had in fact been audited by the IRS for compliance on this issue. As most of us know, many larger employers have decided to implement a stipend policy in an attempt to avoid the possibility of an audit. While some employers feel this makes sense for them, they may want to reconsider once they see Matsch’s upcoming whitepaper on stipends and their effect on employer cell phone costs. In any event, it is a topic that many involved with telecom are wary of.

The official IRS wording of the rule is actually straightforward in that it requires employers to document the personal use of employer-provided cell phones. Though most employers believe this would be burdensome, it is not nearly as burdensome as they think it is, and is a lot less expensive than the other options. The thing that interested us as Cellular Information Management service providers is that the end result of this specific audit was that each employee with a provided cell phone would pay the IRS (directly via payroll deduction) a flat tax payment per month via payroll deduction! Let that sink in for a moment…

As you might imagine, some of the employees of this organization were a little ahem… ‘put out’ by the decision. Though this is a seemingly simple thing to do, and is much more acceptable to the employer, since it resolves all their concerns regarding IRS compliance, it is hardly fair to those employees that did not use their employer provided cell phones for personal use, but purchased their own personal plans

Stay tuned for more on this topic!!


 
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