I have a pile of “CIO Decisions” on my desk. They’re good bathroom reading for IT people. The content is not what I would call deep and rigorous, but even when it is just complete fluff it is interesting to see what sort of complete fluff other IT people are currently thinking about.
The September 2007 issue had a final article entitled “How I Fixed My Telco Billing Problems”. Full article is available online here (you need to register to read it). From the article:
What am I mad about? Invoices from telecommunications providers (voice, data, cellular). It seems to be standard industry practice for their invoices to be wrong. Not marginally wrong, but very wrong.
No kidding! When I ran the phone switch and took care of the telco billing at Idealab not a month went by that I didn’t find something wrong, somewhere. For example, a vendor who shall remain nameless simply forgot that they had provided us with a DS3. Of course, it was several orders of magnitude more likely that they’d charge us for something (or charge us at some rate) that was incorrect. Slogging through those bills was a huge time sink. Niel’s solution?
I am changing the relationship (and my contracts) with my telco providers. A few weeks ago I started the process with one of my major providers. Instead of having someone on my staff scrutinize their bills to ensure they are accurate, I told this provider that it is their responsibility to send me an accurate invoice. If this requires them to hire additional staff to replicate what my staff is doing (or even to hire one of the cottage industry vendors), so be it. Rather than scrutinize their bills for accuracy, I will do some sampling. The first time we find an error, I require the provider to give me a 10% credit, recalculate the invoice, and try again. If the rebill still contains errors, the provider gives me another 10% credit and tries again. Perhaps this will give the providers a financial incentive to get things right the first time.
Brilliant. Niel, you deserve a bonus. If I was stuck running telco again, renegotiating those contracts would be job #1.