Telecom expense management (TEM) vendors have long touted service visibility as a major benefit delivered by their systems. Over the past decade, TEM vendors have expanded functionality to include telecom assets in inventory as well. It makes sense to assume that a TEM inventory contains everything an enterprise would need to manage the lifecycle of each telecom service and asset in the environment, but the reality of that assumption may not be true.
The genesis of a TEM system inventory is billing. Invoice charge details are assimilated into an inventory of services and assets, validated against contracts and service guides, reconciled against real estate location addresses and employee identifiers, and confirmed against MACD orders. While this method can yield an accurate billing and charge inventory, the devil is literally in the details when considering its value as a lifecycle management resource. If invoice details used to develop the inventory are missing or not captured at a component level, inventory usability is diminished.
To illustrate the point, consider a standard business line. There are dozens of features and configuration options available for business lines. The line could be configured with flat, measured or metered rate service. PICs, calling features, and hunting are also relevant. If the invoice developed inventory does not capture these details at a line item level, then the usability of the inventory may be limited for lifecycle activities such as service moves, contract negotiations and service engineering.
Relying only on invoice data to develop a lifecycle management inventory is a flawed method. When validating inventory for completeness and accuracy, analysis of all configuration details and attributes for all services and assets is required. This approach takes more effort, but it ultimately improves visibility into the environment to support the full lifecycle of telecom management activities.