3 easy steps to get the most from your network

  • Check for duplicate or old services that may still be active but unused.

  • Look at your network services and make sure you’re using them to the fullest.

  • Treat your vendors like partners, and they will become advisors and advocates, not just order takers.

As we near the final quarter of 2015, it is a good time to take a fresh look at the services your company uses, especially the mix of network services your company employs, to make sure you are getting the most out of them. Technology advances rapidly, and relatively new systems are regularly replaced with even newer ones, so it’s imperative that you stay on top of them to take advantage of what they have to offer.

These are the 3 areas you should inventory every year.

 1.     Make sure you’re getting what you pay for and not paying for services you’re not using

Conduct a full inventory of all the services your company has contracted, which is often quite different from what you’re actually using. 

I have seen many companies unknowingly continue to pay for services established in the 1980s that they didn’t know they had. Departmental changes, special projects, and equipment changes can add up to abandoned circuits and phone lines that are still being billed. Removing those old lines is easy; finding them can be challenging. Locating them requires poring over invoices and visiting the telephony room, where each circuit should be labeled so you can ascertain its purpose. (If they’re not, add this to your to-do list.) 

Once you do this, you might discover duplicate services. In many cases, you will be able to consolidate and save money. For example, the IT and marketing departments might separately pay for the same service, perhaps a T-1 line.  

By using IP technology and consolidating, you can reduce your overall expenses. Think a little bit differently to get more service for less.

 2.     Evaluate your service usage

Examine the services you’re using and evaluate whether you’re getting the most out of them. Maybe you have an MPLS VPN, but you’re just shuffling data across it. Look at the various applications the VPN can enable, which typically gets you on the road to collaborative applications under the unified communications umbrella. 

On-premise unified communications are often being displaced by cloud-based offerings that are far simpler to implement but bring the same ease of collaboration. With an IP infrastructure in place, you have the foundation required to take advantage of them.

3.      Work with your vendors, not against them

As companies outsource more services, vendor management becomes even more critical. This may be harder but less tedious than the first two steps – but the payoff is big.

Be up front with each vendor about other products and services you employ, even if they are from competing vendors. They may not like hearing that they aren’t getting 100 percent of your business or that they aren’t your favorite vendor, but full disclosure will lead all of your vendors to think outside of the box. Best of all, they will be doing all they can to win your business and not just service it.

Keep in mind: Your vendors aren’t always competing; often they work together. Make sure they are working for you. For example, if you have an older PBX but need to squeeze another year or two out of it, a vendor of hosted services can work with you to figure out how to make that happen. Maybe the solution is to lessen the PBX’s load by offloading some services – perhaps voicemail and call routing – to a cloud-based service. Such a strategy will also make it that much easier to cut the PBX loose when the time comes to pull the plug entirely. And don’t forget your internal IT folks in these discussions. They know their business counterparts and where the company is headed.

Try open-ended conversations for a more helpful response. If you tell vendors you want three lines, you will get three lines, but if you tell a vendor you’re growing your business, you will have a much more productive discussion. Treat your vendors like partners, and they will become advisors and advocates instead of order takers.

It’s simple. Each year, invest time and effort in these three areas to conserve budget while delivering tools that facilitate a more collaborative year ahead for your users.

Learn more about Network Services from AT&T.

Sybil Fitzpatrick Lead Product Marketing Communications AT&T About Sybil