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Audit Your POTS Line, Save Money!

Many years ago, I turned a corner in my career. There was no title change or anything; just a change in mindset. I shifted from strictly focusing on effective architecture operations to the financial aspects, finding opportunities to save money. After spending several years doing PBX architecture, administration, and least-cost routing, I had largely ignored our plain old telephone service (POTS) lines. POTS lines are relatively reliable, analog in nature, but carriers are pricing them out of the market to free up infrastructure and make way for newer technology.
 
Improving Inventory, Saving Money
Whether you’re simply looking to cut costs or make room for newer systems, an audit on POTS lines can be beneficial for your organization, as I learned through experience. Through an internal test audit of roughly 15 to 20 plants and offices, I found the cost of our POTS lines varied greatly, and they were inaccurately displayed in our database. In general, our company used POTS lines for alarm systems, gas and water meters, postage machines, environmental monitoring, elevators, faxes, and remote access to devices. Many of these lines were missing a label in the database to describe their purpose, a common occurrence for companies that have been acquired or merged.
 
One thing I found was many POTS lines were abandoned, but we were still paying their bills. We didn’t have good control over our inventory of services, and fewer than 50% of these lines were even labeled in our telecom expense management (TEM) database. With a full audit of our roughly 500 sites, the company had the opportunity to improve its inventory and, most importantly, save money.
 
Beyond Cost-Savings
After receiving approval on the project, I recruited stakeholders to ensure management’s support and under my supervision kicked off the project. Weekly meetings kept us focused, and we used a cloud-based workbook as a centralized repository for our field IT personnel to enter inventory notes. Following six months of audits, we were able to disconnect several thousand circuits and save almost a half-million dollars that year on monthly recurring costs.
 
Besides disconnecting unused POTS lines, we found other opportunities. For instance, we worked with FedEx and UPS to eliminate modem-based PCs and change the shipping systems to online. We learned that many of our postage machines could accept a USB adapter to work online and that allowed us to eliminate the phone lines. We upgraded many of our environmental monitoring devices for network connectivity. Since our VoIP solution supported fax machines, we ported fax numbers during our upgrade projects.
 
We also discovered that sometimes the business had ordered voice services without including me or our TEM in the process. This created new, standalone accounts with standard rates. Additionally, I found that we had purchased many of these POTS lines with unnecessary add-on services, like three-way calling and voicemail that cost us more money. Remember those services the business ordered? We added those services onto our carriers’ master service agreement for improved rates.
 
In large companies, it’s easy to overlook POTS lines. They’re low-tech, usually standalone analog products that individually don’t cost much. However, they can cost a bundle. Check your inventory occasionally, and you may uncover an opportunity to reduce your expenses.

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