How do we forget phone lines?

CEOs constantly push for BEST cost – a way to achieve the BEST outcomes – but also at the BEST possible cost. Department managers typically implement this directive by looking for fraud, waste, and abuse in general; and better cost sourcing in particular.

Telecom costs are viewed in many respects today as a utility cost. This view equates the dial tone to power, gas, and water. A busy Department Manager will quickly move on to other cost items for achieving cost efficiency. But an annual shakedown of the phone bill may yield savings that show up EVERY month!

Typical phone lines, say POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service) nowadays cost $35 per month. The numbers go even higher when you add line features such as voice mail, distinctive ringing, hunting, group call pick up, etc. The new cable services sporting Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) lines cost about the same each month. Mobile phone lines for corporate-liable accounts can be as high as $80 per month. All of these services don’t deserve a second look while looking for BEST cost – except when they are NOT being used. Yes. It is true. It is easy to forget phone lines. I have done it. And you know you have done it!

How does this happen?

  • People move on to different jobs.
  • Business missions change.
  • Technologies change.
  • Business ownerships change.
  • Managers forget to request disconnecting lines.
  • Telcos sometimes forget executing orders to disconnect lines.

When people move on to another job in the company, they may not need the same telecom service. If they leave the business, the replacement may happen in a different department, building, or state. Once the physical phone moves away, there is no way to know that the phone company will keep charging the $35 each month for the dial tone still alive in the phone socket. The forgotten phone line keeps living on in your phone bill. Re-purposing the business line can also lead to similar forgetfulness, since managers don’t care about these issue as a matter of their daily concerns.

When business missions change, the departments operate differently, needing different telephone support. Not keeping good records of these changes will result in forgotten phone lines. When technologies change, older technologies are not disconnected on a timely basis. Modems were widely used at one time for connecting computers. The dial up speeds of 9.6 kbps are a distant memory now in the Ethernet age flying on the Internet. But we used to have dedicated modem lines at work stations!

Fax lines are now going to the same fate as modem lines. Technologies change every 7-10 years that radically alters the telco infrastructure and its costs.

A physical inventory of all lines being billed is one way to remove these forgotten phone lines. But this is a hard thing to do. Looking under desks and testing telephone jacks for active lines is no small effort. It takes time and money. This cost reduction may be good for the telecom department… but nobody else cares! Calling each line to see if anybody is using it is also a laborious effort. But it beats walking the floors and looking under the desks for phone jacks. This is what LineTests does for you.

The best practices for avoiding forgotten phone lines include:

  • Central record keeping of line assignments to users and their managers
  • Central Orders issuance for changes
  • Central Order Execution tracking and bill reconciliation
  • Annual inventory reconciliation
  • Annual concurrence by department managers of the telecom infrastructure on the books
  • Prompt removal of unneeded telecom lines
  • Review of Direct Inward Dialing (DID) lines reserved for “future” use that never came!
  • Review of Zero Usage lines in mobile services

A national bank, with thousands of branches, found 14% of their telco lines to be going unused. They saved a cool million dollars a year from the one-time effort to remove these lines!