Call Accounting for VoIP and Analog Communication Systems
There was once a time when there were no telephones, facsimile machines, personal devices, computers or the Internet. Today most people cannot phantom such a primitive existence. Communication is the link that allows our world to function at its torrid pace. Business must continually adopt modern technology to successfully compete in a world that demands instantaneous results. The proper management of communication infrastructure is crucial in the success of any organization.
The entry points into every organization usually include a combination of auto attendant, custom call routing (CCR), voice mail, interactive voice response (IVR), automated call distribution (ACD), wireless and countless other devices. Many organizations are turning to communication servers over conventional PBX systems to deploy VoIP based pipelines that reduce cost and maximize flexibility. Voice and data communication can now co-exist and flow freely through the same bandwidth. Calls can easily be configured to simultaneously ring multiple devices, hunt to wireless or home phones, route to voice mail or forward to another call center.
Communication management is now a multi-pronged approach that combines statistics from various facilities to identify billing irregularities, misuse, bottlenecks, inactivity, productivity or workforce expense.
Billing reconciliation is often overlooked since carriers always bill based on contracted tariff plans, right? According to analysts at Gartner, “Organizations can routinely save more than 10% of their annual telecommunications expenses by systematically checking their carrier bills against equipment and services in use.” But it is no longer effective to look exclusively at your traditional telephone invoices and compare them to the call accounting system in the back room.
The old adage rings true today “you cannot manage what you cannot measure”. Call accounting is no longer the killer application of current times but it is certainly a necessary component. Leading edge communication management systems now collect system logs, Internet usage reports, router statistics, voice mail logs, CCR, hunt group information and various device-dependent logs as well as traditional call detail records (CDR).
Have you ever called your favorite electronics store to inquire about the latest digital cameras but got trapped in a series of never-ending prompts about store hours, hard drive specials and video games? Many companies are taking advantage of communication management systems (CMS) that study activity from automated attendant and custom call routing trees. These reports help pinpoint whether calls are being prematurely dropped, abandoned or misdirected. It is imperative that customers are quickly and efficiently routed to their desired destination. The customer experience with your communication facilities will dictate whether they return.
Cost allocation to various corporate levels has been a basic functionality of most robust call accounting system for years. The downward trend of long distance expenses due to falling carrier rates, bundled services and VoIP competition has lessened the importance of this feature. This has resulted in the misconception that call accounting is no longer relevant. However many companies forget that there are many hidden costs that can be highlighted through proper use of call accounting or communication management software.
If Jimmy in sales spends half his time talking on the phone, management might be thrilled at his dedication. However if Jimmy is spending half his time talking to his girlfriend, perhaps management should take a second look. Call Accounting can be a key indicator of misuse and employee productivity. Employee productivity recovery is one of the primary reasons to own a system today!
Often fraudulent calls may be routed through corporate facilities without the knowledge of the company. Hackers can find faults in improperly designed networks, infrequently used extensions, voice mail ports and tandem trunks. A call accounting watchdog should always be monitoring activity for irregular patterns. Modern call management systems utilize SMS, pager, email and web interfaces for instantaneous reporting.
Communication management is imperative in providing the proper metrics for migrating to IP. Most companies do not even have a proper migration strategy. Call accounting can help ease the transition by highlighting traffic volumes, peak hours, grade of service, abandoned calls, blocked calls, calls to reception and various other peg counts. These statistics will help determine the bandwidth needs and requirements for auto attendant, wireless, IVR and other services.
Some communication management systems have been established interoperability with major manufacturers such as Nortel, Cisco and Avaya. These systems often provide more tight knit integration through third party call control. These solutions often enhance the hardware by adding such features as: forced and verified account codes, call trace, set locking and real time emergency notification.
Often companies forget about the need for pinpointing the source of a telephone call in case of an emergency. Many call accounting systems have built-in real time alarm triggers that will alert authorized personnel of an emergency call. This feature is crucial when seconds could mean life or death.
Call accounting has definitely evolved and matured into communication management. The need for this software is more important than ever.
Call Accounting for Every Enterprise (http://ezinearticles.com/?id=86399), Rito Salomone, October 2005
Better Management of Telecom Expenses, March 15, 2005
Additional Reference: What Great Telecom Managers Know, Roger Yang, Avema, June 2005