Software can help ease the pain of tracking policies and billing.

The process of managing mobile data policies and ferreting out wireless data costs may seem daunting. But there are software and services that can automate many of these steps, turning a potential accounting nightmare into a relatively straightforward exercise in financial discipline.

Such applications can help companies set up use policies, linking users to appropriate plans and alerting business managers if employees exceed their allocations. They can also compare billing against use to determine if the company has been overbilled. It's possible to perform these tasks manually, but users say that communications cost management is most effective when it's automated. "Having a tool to do that is very important," maintains IHC's Wilhelmi.

The complexity—and the value—of installing such software depends on issues like the number of vendors you're using and the kinds of links you require to your accounting systems. Smaller companies that are unsure if they can afford to manage an in-house application can use outsourcers for everything from hosting to handling carrier negotiations. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to receive bills in electronic format. Some carriers support bill transmission by EDI, while others send CDs with spreadsheets. Smaller local carriers are likely to provide paper only.

Armed with good data, however, you're on a far more even footing with carriers, who in the past held all the information cards. You might even be willing to accept slightly higher rates for your wireless data contracts if it means you'll be more assured of easier accounting.

This article was originally published on 10-01-2003
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