Negotiating telecom contracts

* Resources to help you negotiate telecom contracts

Many of you who work for companies that budget on a calendar year basis are knee-deep in spreadsheets as you plan for 2005 IT expenses. After staffing, telecom generally gobbles the largest chunk of IT spending. With that in mind, here are some resources from the pages of Network World that can help you pinpoint potential for savings.

No matter what you're negotiating, one of the most important principles is leverage. The more you have, the more likely you are to receive advantageous contract terms and rates from carriers. In order to get that leverage, you have to be willing to walk away from a deal and give some of you business to a second carrier.

Hank Levine, an attorney with Levine, Blaszak, Block & Boothby, represents large companies in their negotiations with carriers. He offers tips on getting more bang for your telecom bucks in the interview at http://www.nwfusion.com/research/2003/1201howtotelecom.html

Columnist Johna Till Johnson provides a refresher on good negotiation practices. Go to http://www.nwfusion.com/columnists/2004/072604johnson.html if you've forgotten why you need to spend so much time crafting an RFP and when to get started on the onerous task. And for ideas on other ways to cut costs, see Johnson's column at http://www.nwfusion.com/columnists/2004/0209johnson.html

Voice and data rates have dropped over the years as carriers duke it out for your business. Read about the rates carriers have been offering at http://www.nwfusion.com/news/2004/070504pricewar.html and http://www.nwfusion.com/news/2004/0329specialfocus.html

It also helps to keep up to date on the newest plans the service providers are offering. For example, Sprint recently introduced an all-in-one combo plan for wireless, data and traditional voice, which is advantageous towards meeting your minimum annual commitment. Find out more at http://www.nwfusion.com/news/2004/092004specialfocus.html

As wireless becomes more prevalent through the enterprise, also consider flat-rate plans that let you pay as you go for wireless service with no overage penalties. Go to http://www.nwfusion.com/research/2004/1018wireless.html to see how this arrangement could benefit your company.

In the next newsletter, I'll pass along tips for negotiating software contracts.

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