The 4 Key Differences Between IT Expense Management Vendors

In our last post, Top 3 Things to Know About Mid-Market IT Expense Management we covered essential information you need to know before taking the plunge into Technology Expense Management (TEM). In this second post of our series discussing a recent report by Blue Hill Research: Mid-Market TEM Vendor Landscape, we’ll share the key differences between IT expense vendors, along with our perspective and experience. Blue Hill Research is an independent research and advisory firm focusing on the enterprise technology marketplace.

Research shows four different ways mid-market TEM vendors typically approach Mid-Market IT Expense Management:

  1. Carrier/Vendor Agnostic vs. Partner-Oriented

  2. Project-Based Focus vs. Long-Term Focus

  3. Self-Service vs. Vendor-Managed

  4. Software vs. Services

1. Carrier/Vendor Agnostic vs. Partner-Oriented

Blue Hill finds that TEM vendors typically either work with all vendors and carriers, or have strong partnerships with certain carriers and vendors.
Both approaches offer their own benefits, such as reduced cost through carrier agreements, or access to preferred carriers, among others. As such, we’ve found that it’s more beneficial to our customers to provide flexible pricing solutions that give them access to both options and let them choose what works best for them–whether it be allowing them to buy services directly from the service providers of their choice, or working with our carrier partners to get wholesale pricing on everything we have to offer.

2. Project-Based Focus vs. Long-Term Focus

Blue Hill finds that most TEM vendors are either more interested in one-time project-based work, or prefer to pursue longer-term, ongoing management contracts.

Our philosophy is to make it as easy as possible for our mid-market customers to effectively scale their needs. Whether they just need to augment their team, or engage a fully managed service offering, we offer solutions that are designed to suit their enterprise IT management needs, not ours. Many vendors still offer project-based services such as audits, RFP management or project management. That can work for some, but we believe the most efficient approach is to manage the entire lifecycle, what we call “Procure to Pay.”

3. Self-Service vs. Vendor-Managed

Blue Hill finds that TEM vendors generally offer either a complete self-service approach, or a fully managed approach to analytics and reporting, and rarely a combination of both.

Those enterprises that wish to generate their own real-time analytics and reporting can easily get across the board visibility into any aspect of their technology investment if they select the right vendor. Our philosophy is that data alone is not as valuable as getting actionable insights from the data. We ask the question, so what?  Retrieving the data and analyzing is not enough. It must be transformed into business intelligence you can use to make smart decisions on where to spend or eliminate. While at a TEMIA industry conference recently, we heard the phrase, “opinionated data.” This made us think of all the ways we can present information. For example, providing insights and ranking data based on areas that are on track from those that require attention. As a progressive organization, we’re improving on our reporting capabilities any chance we get. vCom’s software provides interactive graphs for monthly spend trends across your enterprise, including spend by type, by location, and by carrier. There are more than 100 reports to choose from, based on best practices from more than 250 clients like you. You can customize reports and access them on a single dashboard on any device, anywhere. The vManager cloud-based platform has built in security so that you can give access to only approved users with ease of mind that your data is protected.

4. Software vs. Services

Blue Hill finds that some TEM vendors in the mid-market have a focus on software, while others are more focused on managed services and customer support.

A highly niche, differentiated TEM vendor is beneficial to certain enterprises but not to others. We tailor our combination of award-winning SaaS platform and professional services solution offering to the end-user environment so that we’re able to handle every aspect of our customers’ technology needs, from design to implementation; and from trouble-shooting to process and system improvement. A lifecycle approach which combines the services and software is ideal. Having a combination of technology subject matter experts who can advise you on the latest trends, track RFPs, procure and manage inventory, provide tech support and link to you’re A/P postings within subscription-based software should be considered. There’s no need to select from one or the other when you can have both.

Summing it all up

We don’t believe that any aspect of TEM should be an either/or proposition. Mid-market enterprises that have access to a complete array of lifecycle management solutions, will not only be able to make a TEM purchase decision that meets their immediate needs, they will be better positioned as they scale to have a solution in place that helps them manage their portfolio, minimize costs and improve the quality and value of the services they provide.

In our next post, we’ll discuss the report’s recommendations for mid-market TEM success. To read the first post in this series, click here.

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