Category Archives: Telecommunications

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What’s in your toolbox?

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I pondered this question while doing some DIY projects around the house. Being an ex-carpenter, I have a lot of tools from the trade.

As a Carpenter, I had two assets that defined the excellence of my work. My skills at the craft, and the tools in my possession were equally important to ensure the job was done right.

Business works the same way. The right tools are essential to an effective business. When we talk about tools in business, we usually refer to technology (at least for the purpose of this discussion).

Your Business Toolbox might hold a good CRM system for managing customers, or an ERP system if you’re in Manufacturing. Your Marketing department probably owns a Website and a couple of good Graphic Arts applications. You probably have a collaboration platform.

But buying technical tools is quite different than running down to Home Depot to buy pick up a new hammer.

Purchases need to be planned as a strategic business decision, adequately budgeted and the right subject matter experts need to be involved. A carpenter doesn’t need an expert to know what type of hammer to buy, but a business might.

There are several options to finding a subject matter expert:

1. Use in-house staff to research products online: Not a bad plan if you trust your IT staff. However, sometimes working within a specific toolset for a long time can cause a narrow viewpoint. Why? Because the technology changes too rapidly for the average IT person to keep up with and still do their day to day job effectively.

2. Talk to Vendors: Who knows more about the product than the Vendor that sells it, right? Wrong. Unless the vendor is truly unbiased and sees each implementation though to know the pros and cons of their solution, and is willing to tell you that.

3. Hire a Consultant to find the right tool: This idea works well, but is by far the most expensive option. Usually you’ll pay a billable rate or retainer for the Consultant to learn your business model, research the right tools and create a project plan to implement it. Though they will be in a position to gauge the effectiveness of the solution.

4. Contact a Procurement Advisor:  The least expensive path to getting the right tools is generally through Procurement Advisors. A good Procurement Advisor will look at your business, then find the best tools based continual research in the market. As Advisors, we need to constantly have our fingers on the pulse of the industry and know what tools are effective for the job at hand.

When a deal is brokered through a Procurement Advisor, it generally doesn’t cost you anything upfront for their services. If you have trust your advisor, that’s even better. Your IT staff doesn’t have to spend the time with vendors and service providers to make sure they get the best rate, the broker has already done that.

But how do you know you can trust your advisor? That is a good question and you better be asking it. Here are some ways you can gain trust in your advisor.

1. Review their track record: Has your advisor always been an advisor? Or do they also have experience in Consulting and IT? An advisor who’s sat you your side of the table will have a better understanding of what it takes to earn your trust.

2. Make sure their recommendations are truly unbiased: Ask for quotes from multiple vendors. The advisor should be able to give you comparable quotes. You may even want to pick a couple vendors you know of to see how their prices compare. Look for honesty and openness from the advisor.

3. Find out what the end-goal is of the advisor: If you feel your advisor just wants to close the deal and move on, they probably do. This does not instill trust. A trusted advisor will want to be with you throughout the process and earn your long-term business.

This is a key distinguisher. Your Trusted Advisor will be close to your business and involved in the whole process from beginning to end. The best Trusted Advisors and Consultants understand one thing above all. Your success is their success!

Nothing else stands out more. It doesn’t matter how long they’ve been in business, how big their company is, or what their stocks are doing on Wall Street. It matters how they rate their success. It must align with yours.

Getting back to the toolbox metaphor, your business is more than the knowledge and skill set of the people in your organization. The right tools are essential for keeping up with the competition and energizing your business.

A Trusted Advisor can help you find the best tools with the least amount of effort on your part.

One last parting thought. The technical tools in your organization have to do one thing above all else. They must save you money! Either directly or indirectly.

And so I ask you, what’s in your toolbox?


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5 Common Tech Mistakes Made when Moving Offices

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Moving an office is no simple task. Keeping track of where everything is, where it’s going, where everyone is going to sit and how to get them their while still maintaining some level of business continuity can be enough to drive a company crazy. By far, the most overlooked component when moving an office involves technology infrastructure and services. If you’re in the planning stage of a move, even if you’re just looking for property, this is for you.

1. Telecommunications – Connectivity is like the glue that holds our businesses together in the 21st century. Without it, it’s very difficult for a business to function. Internet & Voice lines can be especially difficult to move.

For example, your new location may not be one that is “on-net” with your current carrier. This means that the carrier will have to lease bandwidth from another carrier to continue service and that their lead time to swing service could be heavily delayed by as much as 90 days and your monthly rate will increase! If you’re still on contract, you will have to stay with that carrier and wait out the time it takes for them to get the install done, then pay the additional fees.

Furthermore, it takes a lot of coordination to get them to cut over service on a specific date and time. If you have a contract that’s coming up for renewal and you know you might be moving, see about keeping the contract on a month-to-month basis. This will allow you some options if you find out that there’s a long lead time or the new location is much more expensive.

2. Voice – Moving a business phone system is much more difficult than it seems. The equipment is the easy part. The difficulty comes when you need carrier services and someone to re-install the system at the new location. Generally speaking you can keep your same phone numbers, but if your moving to a different area code or even prefix, it could cost you extra to keep your old numbers.

Question if your phone system is even worth moving. If you’ve been in your current location for a long time and haven’t modernized it, it could be cheaper to change to a new service with the move.

3. Servers, Network Gear & Workstations – Anytime you’re moving computer and high-end electronic equipment, you should have a mover who is certified in that area. Movers that specialize in electronic equipment take special care to make sure that every device is cataloged, and stored in anti-static & shock resistant packaging. Getting equipment reconfigured the proper way requires a very systematic process.

If your employees have laptops and mobile devices, make sure you know who’s taking theirs with them and what’s left to the movers. Not knowing could mean that something gets lost or valuable time is spent looking for something that isn’t in the office.

Also, what about old equipment? If it’s legacy and not in production, why move it? E-waste recycling companies should be engaged to remove old equipment and dispose of it properly. In some cases old equipment can be resold, but often the depreciation value is so low it’s not worth the effort.

4. Cabling – Even if your new location is pre-cabled, it is a good idea to make sure you have it certified by a low-voltage cabling company. If not, you could be facing possible networking issues later on that will be very difficult to track down. Network cabling is very specific and can be quite sensitive.

Also, be sure your cabling vendor is on track to add any drops where they might be needed. Cabling vendors work off billable hours so they might not be available if you call them last minute.

Make sure you have proper cabling to get the connectivity lines from where the vendor drops them to where the equipment is located. If you’re in a high-rise, a third party company will have to extend the vendor terminations to your suite. Your building manager should have that contact info on file.

Don’t forget about wireless. Wireless access uses RF signals that don’t pass through concrete, glass and many heavy metals. Have a wireless site survey done to make sure you have coverage in the right areas and know your access point placement.

5. Conference Rooms – If you have meeting rooms, think about audio/visual devices. Are you installing a flat panel or projector? How are users going to connect to them? There are some really good wireless products on the market. Also, what about conference tables? Can you build cabling & power into the table? The best conference rooms have no visible cable when someone’s presenting. A tangled conference room can be a real distraction.

Bottom line, if your business has a dependence on Technology, don’t discard the concern. It takes a lot of coordination to move an office and still maintain business as usual. Start thinking about it now and have a trusted advisor coordinate your technology move. You’ll be glad you did and there’s a lot of room for improving it at the same time.

CBC Solutions is a holistic consulting company and trusted advisor. We can help demystify the office move from the technical side so you can focus on everything else. If you’re planing or even thinking of moving give us a call. We’ll look at your potential new location to make sure you can get service and coordinate the move so you stay in business as much as possible.

 


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How to cut telecommunications costs by 20-30%

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“If you haven’t completed a detailed analysis of your telephone bills in the past two years, there’s a 90% chance you are being overcharged—possibly as much as 20%.” — FCC

“Rather than getting better as a result of computerization, utility bills seem to be getting worse. They are indecipherable, lack itemization, contain inflated or phony charges, and cost customers billions of dollars a year.” — Ralph Nader

With the rise in Telecommunications costs, it becomes increasingly important to analyse your costs for errors, overages and omissions. Additionally, as the market gets more competitive, carriers are offering better and better deals. This, combined with changing business needs causes companies to have to re-analyze their current contracts on an ongoing basis.

CBC Solutions offers a 5 step process to help businesses find the best cost savings they can get while meeting the business needs of the organization.

  1. Assess business processes & determine voice and data needs
  2. Audit contracts and latest invoices
  3. Identify alternate vendors for service needs
  4. Provide a formal recommendation & assist with implementation
  5. Track invoicing and manage contract renewals

On average, CBC Solutions can find 20-30% or more savings on a telecommunication budget and drive down operating costs. With CBC Solutions at your side, you can be sure your getting the best possible rates. We cut through the loopholes and get the vendors competing for your business.

Our Commitment:

  • Absolute Neutrality – Our network of over 100 carriers contains no underlying commitments or quotas. We negotiate the best rates with your best interests at heart.
  • No Risk – CBC Solutions employ a risk-free auditing technique. We find the best rates for your organization so you can focus on your core business.
  • Lifetime Support – We want to earn your trust. As a result, we treat your account as if it is our own. Our vendor relationships allow us to get better support than the average person and we will support you as long as your contract lasts.

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How a telecom agent can help you save money

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When reviewing a technology budget, look at the cost of Telecommunications. High-speed Internet, private lines, phone services, PBX, long distance and even cloud servers. These are all monthly costs that quickly add up. Many business leaders miss these costs when calculating budgets or working to reduce operating costs. They add up quickly.

To add to this problem, there are new technologies and better pricing popping up every day. This leads to added confusion and budgets can get outdated very quickly. Fortunately there is hope. A growing field in the industry today is that of a Telecom Agent. This person has good ties to multiple vendors and can readily get the best pricing and help you navigate through the noise.

A Telecom Agent that is connected to multiple vendors and is familiar with the industry can save you thousands of dollars a month, often without billing you for their services. They do this through integrated provider networks where they can submit your needs and get the best pricing from multiple vendors. The agent then collects a commission through either the provider or the partner network and never has to bill you for that service.

Here’s how it works. 

The Telecom Agent should ask a few questions to get an idea of what you need from a technology standpoint. They may even review your current billing to get an idea of what you’re actually using as far as Internet bandwidth, voice services, long distance minutes, and even Cloud Servers. Then, the agent contacts a list of providers in your area to get the best deals. In some cases they may package services to save you even more money and simplify deployment.

Once the proper quotes are received, the agent will send them to you and hopefully explain the various options to help you make the right decision. If you don’t like any of the options, that’s OK. If you do, you sign the agreement with the carrier, not the agent. The carrier and/or partner network works out commission with the agent.

Another benefit to agents is that they usually have better contacts within the carriers so they can assist with deployment, contract negotiation and support. Consider this. Say you have a long distance service that is $5 / minute. A typical monthly bill shows usage of 80 minutes of long distance. That equates to $400 / month or $4,800.00 per year. Now say the agent can get your long distance down to $1.9 / minute either by finding another provider or through 100 minute blocks bundled in with another service. Now your monthly costs go down to $152 / month and you save an average of $2,976.00 ever year. This same practice can be placed on voice lines and Internet access which, when bundled, can save even more.


Free yourself from the worry of technology and get back to running your business today!