Local authorities across the UK own a multitude of assets that rely on communications technology to keep in contact with business, customers and third parties.
Over the past decades, reliance on ‘legacy’ technology – such as telephone lines – has diminished, as an abundance of emerging technologies have replaced solitary phone lines.
Without robust tracking systems, however, line cancellations may not occur as expected and, if left unchecked, telecommunication providers will continue to charge organisations for unused telephone lines.
We have proven that the onus of telephony management is on us and, ultimately, we cannot depend on telecommunication companies to responsibly notify customers when telephone lines are only incurring rental charges.
Through an extensive auditing exercise, we verified asset data by approaching several telecommunication firms to provide details of every telephone line registered against the business, inclusive of full installation address, source account and associated numbers.
This source data was imported into a database for quality assurance purposes; having the data in a secure, tamper-proof environment allowed the team to integrate it with incoming quarterly electronic phone bills.
In the absence of any procedure for monitoring telephone lines, we examined telephony charges and found familiar patterns emerging, with an abundance of lines that were only generating line-rental charges.
As a council, we decided that, if the telecommunication companies were unwilling to assist, we needed to introduce controls of our own. We pursued a project of designing, testing and investigating, which led to the cancellation of 350 telephone lines, equating to a yearly saving of £100,000.
While examining the data, we introduced elements of automation to assist with line cancellations, and developed programs to assess whether telephone lines had ever had any voice calls or other activity over 12 months.
Having established a more robust control system, we were able to challenge telecommunication companies. In 2019, we received £175,000 in refunds for telephone lines that should have been cancelled in 2016.