We recently helped a company save over $18,000 per month just by implementing a company cell phone policy for them which establish badly needed telecom cost control over their wireless networks.
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It is astounding to me how many companies do not have a comprehensive corporate wireless policy or centralized control over their wireless enterprises. However, during a telecom audit, management quickly realizes how valuable a company-wide cell phone policy is when we implement one for them. A comprehensive corporate cell phone policy is an absolute must in today’s business environment for three main reasons:
• A wireless smart phone policy is needed to help companies maximize their telecom cost savings and prevent wasted expense. Cost savings are most often immediate and significant. For most large companies, on average, telecommunications expense is now one of their three largest expenses, and the smart phone and wireless portion of that telecom expense is often the majority of that huge expense. Many companies have no idea how to control their smart phones and other wireless device usage and costs.
• Management must assert control over the wireless enterprise in order to control telecommunications usage by employees, and to satisfy current strict IRS usage requirements.
• Companies need to limit corporate liability by prohibiting their workers utilizing wireless devices when they operate vehicles on the job; otherwise companies are leaving themselves exposed to potentially huge lawsuits. Some lawsuits involving negligence by companies using cell phones on the job which results in accidents and injury are approaching millions of dollars in civil judgments.
So now you know why you need a company cell phone policy, however, how are you going to develop a good wireless policy for your employees? As a telecommunications consultant who has written numerous cell-phone policies in the past, I recommend the following tips for writing a great company cell phone policy that will last for years into the future and will make your management take notice of your ability to control the out of control wireless monster wreaking havoc within your company.
1. Research, research, research. Benchmark with other companies. Join Telecom Audit Professionals International (TAPI) on Linked in and solicit advice from other telecom auditors and accountants. Ask peers for information and sample policies.
2. A good wireless policy should clearly outline who in the company is specifically responsible for wireless protocol, including ordering of devices, data and calling features, and administration of cost and all anything related to wireless activities.
3. The company cell phone policy should be a public relations device that provides the foundation for communicating your smart phone device to your employees on a regular basis. As your cell phone and blackberry plans change at least yearly, you should advise your employees regularly on guidelines and what limitations and features their plans contain for them. How many peak and off peak minutes are employees allowed to use each month? They need to know this and clearly understand it.
4. Prohibit costly extra charges. Employees should not be allowed to use their carrier’s 411 directory assistance service. These costs are as high as $3.00 per lookup and can add up quickly. For directory assistance, encourage employees to program speed dial numbers on their smartphones for google411 or AT&T’s free directory assistance service. Prohibit picture sharing, texting (or place employees on the appropriate texting plan), and GPS downloads. The cell phone policy should state that the employee will be responsible for payment of these premium charges.
5. Equipment may only be ordered through the cell phone administrator. This will allow your company to maintain centralized control and ensure you are getting volume discounts across the enterprise though your wireless phone contract.
6. Make sure that company issued cell phones are used strictly for business use only. Employees should reimburse the company for personal calls or will need to specify a percentage of personal cell phone usage each month in order to meet current IRS taxation requirements.
7. Strictly forbid driving, operating any kind of hazardous machinery or equipment and using a cell phone while on company time. No exceptions. Again, this portion of the company cell phone policy needs to be reinforced with monthly emails or employee relations notifications, i.e.: company newsletters, noted on company blogs etc.
8. Lost, damaged or stolen equipment must be reported to the telecommunications wireless administrator immediately.
9. Separation of employment. The cell phone policy should clearly state that the wireless device and phone number belongs to the company, not the employee. Why? Losing a wireless device and phone number can mean a lot of lost sales and clients, as employees who take their wireless phones and numbers with them often take valuable information and client contacts with them, often to your competitors.
10. Have each employee sign the cell phone policy, agreeing that they have reviewed and understand the requirements within it. Also, the cell phone policy should be a main topic during new employee orientation and ongoing training classes.
In summary, the central part of best practice in managing wireless devices and telecommunications costs comes down to control. Without a clear, comprehensive and enforced cell phone policy, you have no control over wireless expense or use in your company. Again, you need to get control of your company wireless costs and maximize telecom cost savings and limit legal liability.
About the author: Mark Evans is Principal and founder of BottaBoom.com, a nationally recognized telecom audit company based in Tucson, Arizona, with additional offices in California and Virginia. Mark and his telecom audit staff has been saving companies large sums of money on their telecom bills for over 25 years. If you need a professional telecom audit project or help with your cell phone bill contract or policy, mobile expenses, landline or data expense, or a cell phone bill audit, contact BottaBoom telecom audit Services at 1-888-487-5326 or go to their contact us page on the web.