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6 pitfalls to avoid - Multiple business mobile contracts
For multinational organisations, reliable, always-on, global connectivity is vital for productivity. The impact of staff not being able to stay in touch with colleagues, suppliers—and customers—can be catastrophic to business profitability.
But ensuring communication isn’t an issue for employees often comes at a price. ICT and Telecoms Managers need to stay on top of mobile-contract management not just for headquarters-based employees, but for home-based and remotely based employees, and for those based in different territories or frequently travelling around the world.
Mobile-contract management can become incredibly complicated and time-consuming, and the risk of employees being uncontactable, or of roaming charges resulting in ‘bill shock’, are high.
Let’s look at some of the pitfalls associated with the fragmentation of organisations’ mobile contracts…
1) Choosing individual contracts for individuals
It might at first seem sensible to choose different mobile plans to suit different employees. Some might be on the phone all day speaking to customers, others might constantly need local connectivity on their travels, and certain office-based staff might only have business phones in case of emergency.
But having to manage a separate mobile contract for each individual puts an enormous strain on ICT and Telecoms resources. Furthermore, the rapidly changing nature of the latest deals and best tariffs mean it’s impossible to keep up with the most suitable plans for multiple different mobile-usage personas.
And if your mobile-management skills are able to handle the administrative requirements? Well the fact that the market is so competitive and deals are constantly changing will likely mean that the available 12- or 24-month contracts aren’t flexible enough to allow switching when a more suitable one becomes available.
2) Welcoming BYOD
Enabling users to choose their own plans or use their beloved personal devices for business purposes is another route to contract-management hell.
Different devices have different functionality, and you don’t want to be reliant on users updating operating systems in order to be able to use business-approved applications. Back-up can also prove problematic, and allowing employees’ devices access to company records and client communications provides your Security team with its perfect nightmare scenario.
3) Working across operators
Often, the best deals for different user personas will be spread across Mobile Network Operators (MNOs). It’s understandable that you’ll be looking for the best rates, and the most suitable plan for John from Accounts isn’t necessarily with the same provider as the best deal for Claire from International Sales.
But, again, each separate plan means another separate contract. And different operators have different regional coverage footprints, and different terms and conditions which can affect your organisation’s ability to implement mobile-usage policies.
4) Choosing regional contracts for regions
Multinational organisations will most likely have different mobile plans with different providers in different countries. Overseas-based employees won’t be able to use a UK-based Mobile Network Operator without paying roaming charges for usage—so until relatively recently, the only option was to pick from the providers available in each of your organisation’s business territories.
Even if all employees within each country are with the same provider, your organisation will still have to manage separate contracts for each country. The likelihood is that employees within each country will be spread across different plans offered by the provider—so contracts will be further fragmented.
5) Keeping pace with travelling employees
Ensuring travelling employees have continuous connectivity, wherever they are, is notoriously difficult.
It can feel like a satisfying financial victory to avoid paying high roaming charges by organising in-country deals each time a member of staff arrives in a new business destination—but the time this takes (and the high rates you’ll still likely be paying) can render it ultimately a hollow one.
6) Expecting cost predictability
Even if your ICT and Telecoms teams are managing to stay on top of employees’ contracts, different regional providers’ Ts & Cs, and in-country connectivity, they can’t avoid the occasional case of ‘bill shock’.
The unpredictability of mobile connectivity costs is multiplied with each separate contract, each country of operation, and each member of staff travelling as part of their job.
The knee-jerk reaction to instances of bill shock is to change contract for the relevant employee—but this moves the problem, rather than solving it.
So, what can organisations do to simplify the management of their mobile connectivity requirements while keeping control over costs?
One plan. One contract. One bill.
Multiple Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) offer a new way of working. They provide access to mobile connectivity requirements, globally, through one contract.
Piggybacking the networks of regional providers, they are able to offer contracts that jump between networks as employees travel from country to country—or even within the same country if one network suffers an outage.
MVNOs can also offer pooled company contracts, with reserves of voice-call minutes, SMS messages and data allowances for all employees to draw from. This not only encourages staff to use their business devices as and when they need them (avoiding archaic ‘Management by Policy’ arrangements), it greatly increases cost predictability as peaks and troughs of usage and charges can even each other out without harsh out-of-bundle charges being triggered.
Roaming charges are often the biggest contributor to bill shock. But MVNOs can provide access to close-to-local tariffs in each country of their operation due to their negotiated rates with local providers.
But the biggest benefit to ICT and Telecoms Managers is the simplification of contract management all-company contracts provide. Bringing all mobile plans under one roof removes the huge burden of managing multiple contracts, for multiple employees, across multiple regions.
And it provides access to the ultimate mobile-connectivity arrangement: One plan. One contract. One bill.