July 23, 2010 By Christopher Corr
charges, as time and expertise allow. However, telecom is most cost-effective when purchased in aggregate and therefore managed in aggregate. This doesn't diminish the role of the contracting officer on the front lines, but it begs for a centralized WEM function with the tools and expertise to take advantage of the scale of government's or agencies' aggregate wireless spend. Most enterprises already have been through this transition -- consolidating vendors and contracts into large pools that are managed through sophisticated optimization algorithms, which are fed each month by changes in available pricing plans. This is often the largest single source of savings for organizations.
Government agencies have distinct requirements for implementing WEM within designated organizational structures and approval procedures. In evaluating commercial WEM solutions, public CIOs should include considerations such as:
1. Contract line item number-based ordering and pricing. Can the WEM solution's catalog handle all the features and bundles that the agency currently buys?
2. Special quoting workflows for service orders. Some agency purchasing policies require a competitive bid (rather than just buying off a vehicle or BPA). Make sure the selected solution can handle this process.
3. Multilevel approval. A configurable workflow tool is an essential component to handle the unique requirements of government purchasing.
4. Contract vehicle rate and budget tracking. Certain vendors with existing public-sector clients may have libraries of available rate plans to use in optimization and to compress implementation timelines and time to savings.
5. Security. Can the WEM solution be deployed and managed in the government organization's own data center? If not, does the solution provider qualify for the necessary clearances to host it on the organization's behalf? Also, how sensitive is the data and are there specific security measures and policies in place to protect it properly?
The key enabler of a centralized WEM environment is an organization's core telecom expense management (TEM) solution, which allows organizations to proactively handle end-to-end wireline and wireless functions, such as ordering and provisioning, inventory, contracting, invoice management and reporting. Complete TEM solutions should be able to handle wireless and wireline together under a unified platform and offer different deployment options: licensed software, software as a service or managed services. Other key capabilities include:
Wireless portal for end-users -- A WEM wireless portal replaces carrier-provided portals to allow end- users to order devices from an approved catalog across all approved carriers. The portal should be able to route orders to a line approver or contracting officer based on configurable rules (e.g., all iPhones must be approved by the CIO). A wireless portal also reduces help-desk calls by enabling help requests and provides detailed reporting to support management decision-making in the field.
Wireless plan optimization services -- While a core TEM solution may offer algorithms for wireless optimization, additional savings benefits are likely to be uncovered with supplemented services. Dynamism and variety in usage and contract structure mean that there continues to be an "art" to achieving the highest overall savings.
Wireless help-desk service -- As mobile devices grow in power and complexity, there is a need for help-desk services with experts who have the latest knowledge on wireless issues and devices. Phone support is adequate for most organizations, but on-site help desk is often available at government agencies as well. Doing it onsite makes more sense when there are specific security requirements, combined with a large user base at a single location or campus that can make use of the wireless experts onsite.
Real-time wireless usage management and mobile device management (MDM) -- Increasingly mobile device management (MDM) and real-time wireless usage management (RWUM) are integral components of WEM programs. RWUM includes a software agent
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