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Real World TEM Audit: How Johnson County Saved on Texas-Sized Tech Bills

by | Nov 3, 2022 | T.E.M. Thought Leadership

With “digital transformation” being the operative term in today’s world, the technology required for resilience and future growth continues to take precedence in every organization’s budget. Technology communication services are particularly important for city and county governments as they seek to enhance digital connections with those they serve.

As in the private sector, digital transformation in government includes models built around voice, data, the internet, cloud services, SaaS licensing, and mobility. In many instances, federal dollars from the CARES and American Rescue Plan Acts were allocated at the municipal level to support remote work and online service delivery, increasing the adoption of new technologies.

Reality check: The cost of digitalization

While the pandemic accelerated digital transformation, it also exposed the realities of poor broadband quality, which disproportionately affects underserved areas and populations. The National Association of Counties (NACo) notes that more than 11 million Americans lack access to broadband that meets the federal definition of minimum broadband standards.

From supporting economic development to connecting unique government assets, high-speed internet is a lifeline in today’s world. Unfortunately, that lifeline can be expensive. Many municipalities throughout the country face burdensome restrictions when it comes to establishing their own broadband networks, forcing them to rely on telecom services that are already available within their jurisdiction. This creates a roadblock that leads to fixed pricing, poor reliability, and slow internet speeds.

This context of accelerated tech advancement paired with broadband hurdles requires an increased focus on fiscally sound telecom investments. It also requires governments to be diligent about finding savings opportunities. This is, after all, what it means to be good stewards of public funds and the public’s trust.

Found: Savings in Johnson County, Texas

One such good steward is Johnson County, Texas. Innovative leaders there used technology expense management (TEM) services to gain better visibility and control of their assets and to reduce costs for communications services.

For most governments, telecom expenses hide in the background and constitute just another necessary evil in the budget. Employees need phones and other technology and communications services and rarely does anyone question telecom-related line items. “We have a limited staff that looks at those expenses,” explained Johnson County Purchasing Agent Ralph McBroom. “Part of our problem is that we’re not really staffed up and we don’t have the expertise to thoroughly check what we’re being billed for.”

The county turned to SpyGlass for a technology expense management audit to discover and implement tailored telecom savings. The company’s sophisticated spend analytics software, along with hands-on, personal analysis, helped the county see and manage extensive tech savings.

“We reduced or found savings in the neighborhood of $90,000,” noted McBroom. “SpyGlass found situations where contracts had expired and AT&T automatically raised their price to us. We really didn’t know it. They flagged that and were able to go back and renegotiate a better deal for us.”

SpyGlass TEM experts also surfaced phone lines that were being billed for even though they were not in use. “We’re not equipped to catch it,” noted McBroom. “They came in and found all this stuff and it was really worth the exercise.”

Personalized TEM analytics = Municipal gains

Johnson County’s results are on par with more than 1,700 city and county government clients who, after personalized SpyGlass SnapShot Audits, experience an average of 108 identified savings recommendations resulting in savings opportunities nearing 30% of their telecom spends.

“With a project the size of Johnson County, our comparative industry-specific analytics along with our comprehensive usage analysis provide the backbone of cost savings recommendations,” explains Mike Farrell, Vice President, Implementation and Project Management (IPM) at SpyGlass. “Once we presented savings opportunities, we worked with Ralph and his team to ensure all savings are being entertained, examined, and implemented as quickly as possible.”

In the case of Johnson County’s audit, savings recommendations and opportunities are specific to local governments and surfaced through the lens of understanding the digital communications essential to effectively connect municipalities with those they serve. This industry-specific insight includes a thorough examination of:

  • Remote work device management: Manage costs of remote devices, including deployment and tracking.
  • Grant money savings and reallocation: Optimize plan structure and device use before service costs hit the budget.
  • Interdepartmental service uses: Understand legacy systems to integrate Unified Communications and Collaboration (UC & C) tools and apps to ensure the best pricing structure for the jurisdiction’s needs.
  • Video conferencing services: Leverage video conferencing volume to better fit the municipality’s needs.
  • E-911 surcharge savings: Ensure optimal setup and honest return on investment for wireless, landline, and VoIP telecom equipment and services.

In addition, preferred pricing models capitalize on pre-negotiated rates that allow municipalities to purchase telecom services for pennies on the dollar, further ensuring a smart, efficient use of tax dollars.

Addressing the Elephant in the Room

As the perpetual elephant in the room, technology and communication service bills are generally left unquestioned and simply get paid. This was the case in Johnson County prior to engaging SpyGlass and letting its team of IPM directors leverage the findings for real dollars that went back into the budget.

The technology cost status quo can be expensive. As connectivity’s role is elevated in a post-pandemic world, local governments should question their current technology expenses. The resulting clarity can not only save money now but help pave the way for continued successful digital transformation.

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