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10 Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your TEM Software

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As the scope of communications technology broadens, the meaning of the traditional TEM acronym has evolved from telecommunications expense management to the more-encompassing technology expense management. Today, when you hear the term “TEM,” think of it as software that can help your organization manage bills, contracts, and inventories for a growing list of services and equipment for fixed, mobile, network, and cloud communications.
Here are 10 tips to help you get the most out your TEM:
  1. DON’T GO IT ALONE – Whether you’re about to start using a TEM or already have a system in place you can bet that one person or one department in your organization won’t have all the details needed to properly set up and manage the system. From the chief financial officer (CFO) to the chief information officer (CIO) to those involved in ordering services, paying bills, negotiating contracts, keeping technology running, and maintaining vendor relationships, all must provide input, stay engaged, and help set up the processes necessary for keeping the TEM records up-to-date. Each of these people or departments will benefit and use different aspects of the TEM to support their day-to-day activities.
  2. THINK AHEAD – When your TEM is up and running after an initial setup, you may want to take things to another level and integrate some of your other business systems, including human resources, finance, mobile device management, or IT service management to support a variety of functions. Relay these business systems to the TEM provider to determine whether they have integrated with your other systems or is capable of doing so. There are different levels of “integration” so the more specific you can be with what you have in mind, the better. As your TEM provider adapts to accommodate evolving technology equipment and services, stay up to date on their capabilities.
  3. DON’T UNDERESTIMATE THE NURTURE REQUIRED –Your TEM system will only be as good as the information residing in it. Your services and equipment are likely added, removed, or changed regularly. For example, sites may open, close, or relocate, billing accounts may be added or closed, and new contracts or addenda signed. This type of detail needs to be kept up-to-date or the system won’t be useful. Be clear on the process for providing your TEM with these updates. Some systems enable direct entry into the TEM hosted portal and others request that a template be completed. You may designate in-house staff for this function or use outside professional services.
  4. UNDERSTAND YOUR TEM’S PROCESS SUPPORTING BILL VALIDATION – If everything is kept up-to-date, your TEM should be able to validate the accuracy of every invoice (in some cases hundreds of monthly invoices). This task can be automated, matching up each component of the bill with the rate from the applicable contract. But if current contracts aren’t loaded into the system or don’t include all billing components, the validation cannot be completed. Your TEM provider can tell you what contract data is missing that is preventing the specific validation.
  5. UNDERSTAND WHAT YOUR TEM DOESN’T DO – Most TEM forms have at least one field where you can enter the “end use” or “business purpose” of each service or piece of equipment. However, the TEM company is generally unaware of how you’re using the service or equipment and whether it’s necessary. It’s up to your organization to provide this and keep it current with in-house staff or outside support via professional services, otherwise you may be managing expenses and maintaining inventory detail for services or equipment not needed. The TEM will provide the means by which you can identify these unneeded expenses, providing reports that list all of the services and equipment, their location and monthly costs.
  6. INSIST ON CONSISTENCY OF TERMINOLOGY – Different communications service providers tend to use different names for similar services on their bills and contracts, which makes things tough. The TEM staff likely uses its knowledge of these various terms to support bill validation, so those terms must stay in the TEM system. Relying on disparate terms for the same services will make it difficult for you to see how many services of a certain type you have in place. We suggest having a separate field on each record where you and your organization can use the most familiar term for each type of service. From there, you can determine how many of each service type you have without having to sort through the terminology used by the service provider. This is useful not only for looking at costs but for knowing what you have when you want to entertain competitive bids.
  7. SET UP AUTOMATED CONTRACT EXPIRATION REMINDERS – Some TEM systems let you set up a reminder for each contract expiration well in advance, ensuring that contracts don’t expire and revert to higher rates, providing you time to obtain competitive bids for services.
  8. AUTOMATE THE INVOICE APPROVAL PROCESS – Most organizations have an approval process for invoices of varying amounts. For example, some TEM systems let you automate the approval process by sending emails with invoice details to the appropriate-level person, who can then approve the invoice automatically.
  9. SUPPORT NETWORK TRANSFORMATION – Organizations with good communications technology records have a greater likelihood of a successful Network Transformation such as moving the network from multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) to Software Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN) technology. Some TEM systems may have modules to support the transformation comparing ‘before and after’ costs and ensuring that all components of the replaced services are removed.
  10. EXPLORE OTHER SERVICES PROVIDED BY YOUR TEM PROVIDER – Many TEM providers offer additional services that can help with your communications technology management such as paying bills for you, placing orders with your service providers, and offering help desk services of varying levels. Determine what these additional services are and if they make sense for your organization.
Look for more thoughts on how to improve your TEM system in future No Jitter articles by Jane Laino.
Jane Laino is president of DIgby 4 Group, based in New York City. DIgby 4 helps clients manage communications technology with both professional services and cloud-hosted systems as a Sakon partner. She is a member of the Society of Communications Technology Consultants.

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"SCTC Perspective" is written by members of the Society of Communications Technology Consultants, an international organization of independent information and communications technology professionals serving clients in all business sectors and government worldwide.


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