What’s in a Bill?

Everyone hates getting bills in the mail, but we all realize that they are a necessary evil. Have you ever wondered who does the tremendously exciting job of creating those bills? We do! Matsch has been providing billing services for many, many things over the years and has shined in the areas of telecommunications/IT and wireless billing.

For the past 25 years we have been developing (and supporting in-house) the software we design. It is no small wonder that our customers value our service, as so many firms are outsourcing this sort of thing. Our customers realize that when it really matters (we are talking about money after all!), it is best to work with people you can actually talk to! Since billing is so important to all sorts of companies, it makes sense to work with a company who truly strives to provide accurate billing services to both internal and external customers.

In recent years we have provided billing applications for wireless resellers (think Mobile Virtual Network Operator or MVNO), state and local governments, colleges and universities, and hospitals. We also provide internal billing or charge-back for a variety of other IT services, including servers, virtual machines (VM’s), SAN storage, networking, and support. Providing accurate, well-organized bills and reporting enables managers to affect P&L line items in a way they’d otherwise be unable to.

We subscribe to the school of thought that “You can’t manage what you don’t measure”, so if your company is looking to better manage its telecommunications/IT resources and thereby save money, by all means, contact us!

NET-Phacs to the Rescue!

Calvin College is a Grand Rapids, Michigan based college with slightly over 4,000 full time students. They are a long term customer of Matsch and recently converted from an on-site system to our hosted NET-Phacs Plus SaaS Call Accounting Service.

Recently, Laura VanWyk from Calvin called the Matsch ‘hot line’ support requesting assistance in searching for a particular call. Calvin College has a ‘Job Shop’ where local employers can request the listing of jobs they have available for students. A local store had called into the ‘Job Shop’ and left a voice mail message that they had a job opening and would like a call back. The message was garbled and there was some uncertainty about the number left in the voice mail which made it difficult for Calvin’s ‘Job Shop’ Manager to contact the prospective employer. With jobs scarce and the manager sincerely wanting to make the best possible effort she asked Laura if she could verify the incoming number for the call that left the message. Charlie Sears from Matsch saw this as a good opportunity to present the power and flexibility of our software.
Charlie helped Laura to simply go into the Call Detail Inquiry application and search based on what they knew. They knew the first 3 digits were “947” or“974” and that there was a “6” later in the number. They knew that the number had come into the manager’s extension. So they searched for calls coming into that extension with a “947” along with a “6”. Lo and behold, a few calls popped up and one of them was at the time of the message being left. They still did not know the prospective employer’s name though. So Laura selected the reverse look-up option in Call Detail Inquiry and it provided the employer name and address from a white page listing.

This is an excellent example of how the powerful query application, included with all NET Services applications, can help users. It can be used to provide call information on incoming, internal, or outbound calling. NET Service is an excellent tool for helping to analyze and document call information for you and your users, whether they are the “Job Shop”, Campus Security, Human Resources, or Administration.

2010 SHRM Annual Conference & Exhibition

2010 SHRM Annual Conference & Exposition – June 27-30, 2010 – San Diego Convention Center

Matsch Systems spread its wings into a new adventure. In the past we always attended conferences directed toward telecommunications management or hardware user groups. SHRM, the Society for Human Resource Management, clearly does not fit into those categories, but it is a group that should be interested in what we have to offer. Matsch specializes in providing the management information necessary to understand communications usage and expenses. Communications usage requires both human and real capital. The verbal communications using mobile and non-mobile phones are critical to an organizations operation. Understanding and quantifying those communications enables a company to proactively manage the communications effectiveness of its employees, as well as the cost and security issues associated with those communications.

Human Resource Management benefits from Matsch services:

Quantify communications patterns of exceptional employees for emulation by others

Internal E911 for security to assist EMTs to exact location of call

IRS Compliance regarding personal usage of mobile phones as a taxable benefit

Quantify and manage mobile phone services as an employee benefit

Reduce communications expenses

Improve communications quality

A circumstance we had hoped for and did actually see at the conference was Human Resource managers that were recently a part of management meetings where controlling the high cost of employer provided mobile phones was referenced. This is particularly true in mid-size companies with mobile workforces looking for ways to improve their bottom line. We found that the SHRM attendees tended to be open-minded managers interested in helping their organization to be more successful. Those unfamiliar with the communications information management needs of their organization volunteered to take information back and find the person responsible.

What Is SHRM?

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) is the world’s largest association devoted to human resource management. Representing more than 250,000 individual members, the Society’s mission is to serve the needs of HR professionals by providing the most essential and comprehensive resources available. As an influential voice, the Society’s mission is also to advance the human resource profession to ensure that HR is recognized as an essential partner in developing and executing organizational strategy. Founded in 1948, SHRM currently has more than 550 affiliated chapters and members in more than 100 countries. www.shrm.org

The 2010 SHRM Annual Conference

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) provides the world’s largest and highly-rated gathering of HR professionals—the 62nd Annual Conference & Exposition held at the San Diego Convention Center, June 27-30, 2010. This world-class event presents a showcase of products and services to an audience of more than 11,000 HR professionals, including major decision makers. This was an excellent opportunity to meet and network with Human Resource professionals. You will have exclusive, non-conflicting exhibit hall hours to engage in face-to-face dialogues that can inform and influence your marketing strategies.

More than 650 small and large companies exhibited at the 2010 SHRM Annual Conference—introducing, displaying and demonstrating a variety of products and services.

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.

Annual Acuta Conference & Exhibition

39th Annual ACUTA Conference and Exhibition – April 18-21, 2010 – San Antonio, TX

Matsch Systems was pleased to be part of another ACUTA Conference (the Association for Information Communications Technology Professionals in Higher Education). It was an excellent opportunity to show clients and prospective clients the enhancements Matsch has made to its mobile and fixed line communications management services. While there was considerable buzz about the House passing an April 15th ‘Tax Day’ bill which included removing the ‘listed property’ status from cell phones, making them virtually a tax free employee benefit, it was generally conceded that cell phones are a communications expense in need of management.

An interesting observation we made during the Conference was that many institutions are looking to reduce their telecommunications management expense. Several approached us to say their fully paid for on-site solution was too expensive to maintain and required too much staff time to manage. Really?? We have wondered for a long time when this would become apparent. They went on to say that while they were not charging back for telephone services any more, they wanted a way to continue having management information but at a price that was more affordable. This is music to our ears since NET-Phacs has been doing this for our customers for years.

This year’s conference was titled “Blaze New Trails” and held in beautiful San Antonio, Texas.  It was a great time to meet for a few days with our clients and friends in college and university telecommunications.  The new JW Marriott in San Antonio Hill Country Resort and Spa made everything even more special.

Conference overview

The hottest topics on the agenda this year were:

–        Emergency preparedness , communications and recovery

–        Configuring the ICT infrastructure for new technologies or new facilities

–        Unified communications

–        Leadership effectiveness

Educational Sessions

ACUTA‘s Program Committee and professional staff seek out the best presenters on the latest topics to provide participants with the most valuable educational experience possible at the Annual Conference.

–        New this year: Tuesday afternoon poster sessions offer great opportunities for institutional attendees to share late-breaking stories in a more intimate setting.

–        Building sessions from attendee’s list of high-priority topics. Get the latest information on cutting-edge developments in unified communications, emergency notification, disaster preparedness and recovery, infrastructure and facilities upgrades, IT security, and leadership development.

–        Expert presenters include both campus colleagues and noteworthy members of the information communications technology industry. Everyone benefits from their unique perspectives.

–        The senior administration track provides Strategic Leadership Forums for Monday and Tuesday.

If you are an educational institution in need of communications networking, there is no better organization than ACUTA. http://www.acuta.org/wcm/acuta/

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.

VoiceCon 2010

Having just returned from VoiceCon 2010 in Orlando, (known as ‘Enterprise Connect’ going forward) we are attempting to digest the vast amount of information presented during the conference.  As this was our first visit to VoiceCon, we were unsure of the audience the show would attract.  It became clear almost immediately that the show is targeted to large enterprises with corresponding IT budgets!  The following represent some of the ‘takeaways’ from Matsch’s perspective.

  • Most of the prominent exhibitors are touting what we would refer to as ‘Complete Solutions’ to enterprise communications needs, voice being just one of the communication platforms.
  • There was an abundance of ‘Telepresence’ (aka ‘video conferencing’) providers.  Can you say ‘Bandwidth’?
  • Avaya, Cisco, IBM and Siemens each provided demonstrations of their UC (unified communications) solutions.  Though all claimed to integrate with existing components of enterprise’s communications platform, only IBM successfully persuaded us of their willingness to act as an actual integrator.
  • SIP trunking is a hot topic these days, with many of the attendees trying to get their arms around this apparently complex technology.  We question the validity of SIP in enterprise communications, as nearly all those we talked to spoke of the complexities involved.  As we all know, those complexities seem to have a way of ‘eating’ much (and in some cases ALL) of the savings that some technologies promise.  Full disclosure: We don’t fully understand SIP currently.  As with any new technology, it will undoubtedly make sense for some and not for others.

Keeping abreast of developments in telecommunications is part of our ongoing commitment to our customers.  Feel free to drop us a line with any questions pertaining to the above.  We’d be happy to help you in any way we can!

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.

VoiceCon Orlando 2010

Bob Matthews and Steve Schafer will be in attendance at the 2010 VoiceCon tradeshow in Orlando March 22nd-24th.

It is essential that we keep abreast of where the industry is moving, and try to determine how best to meet the developing needs of telecom professionals nationwide.  We’ll be talking with representatives with diverse perspectives on technology and hope to deepen our knowledge about unified communications, with an eye toward guiding our customers, both present and future.

Verizon’s MVNO Program Catching On?

Most consumers who have shopped for wireless services over the past couple of years have probably heard of Virgin Mobile, one of several companies owned in whole or part by Richard Branson. What they probably don’t know is that Virgin Mobile is a Mobile Virtual Network Operator or MVNO.

‘What is an MVNO?’ you might ask. In essence, an MVNO is an entity that purchases the right to use a wireless carrier’s network. MVNO’s purchase this service at wholesale rates from the carriers, then provide their own customer support, billing, and marketing with no involvement from the carrier.

‘Great!’ you might be thinking. So what does Matsch have to do with any of this? Well, as mentioned previously, these MVNO’s must provide their own billing, which means effectively they must create their own plans and rates seperate from what they are being charged by the carrier. Billing and resale of telecommunications services is what we’ve done for the past 25 years! Though the resale and redistribution of wireless service has only been important the past few years, Matsch has Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions to meet the needs of most any company or institution, including MVNO’s.

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