May 26, 2024

Paull Ank Ford

Business Think different

Telecom POTS Line Project Risk Management

In telecom, POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service) line sales and implementations are generally avoided if possible. This is because sales people don’t really make any money on them, and they can consume a lot of resources to implement and manage.

It sounds simple, just a telephone line. However, let’s consider POTS for a business with offices all over the U.S.A. As a project manager your job is probably going to involve making sure these lines are installed according to how they were sold, including verification of the pricing before the lines are put in place and follow-up customer billing audits. With POTS it is extremely common to be billed for pricing that was not originally agreed to.

Risk Management implementing POTS:

1. Multiple Carriers: With multiple carriers at each business office location, you will no doubt be dealing with:

a. Different telephone line features and offerings. It can be embarrassing to try and explain to the customer, after the fact, why all the lines don’t have the same features. It is also important to understand ahead of time, if a line needs hunting and how many hunts are required. Sometimes, if hunting is missed in the initial installation, a technician will have to go back out to the site to add hunting, and the customer will incur the additional cost.

b. The need to make sure you know where the telco box is at each location and whether a jack needs to be installed.

c. Different contacts for each location and making sure they are there when the telco provider shows up to install the line. It is common, on POTS installation, for the telco to just show up for installation without any communication at all. If there is nobody on site to let the telco technician onto the property, then the line installation will have to be rescheduled, and there will be additional cost to the customer.

d. Finally, if equipment has to be shipped to the location prior to the line installation, make sure the box with the equipment is properly labeled with the site contacts name and that the site contact knows to expect the equipment and keep it safe until the line is installed. Lost or returned equipment will create extra cost for the customer.

2. Billing:

a. The customer is going to receive one bill per office location unless you are able to arrange for consolidated billing per service carrier. Additionally, you should verify if the long distance will be included on the same bill as the local service or on a separate bill. If they have 50 office locations, that’s a minimum of 50 different telephone invoices. The customer won’t be thinking about this prior to receiving the bills, but you can count on them reaching out to you with an unhappy voice once the invoices start pouring in. Work ahead of time to find consolidated billing solutions.

b. Multi Line Rates – some providers will charge a customer an additional fee for having multiple lines (including line hunting). This is often missed in the sales analysis, especially if there are POTS lines already in place at the location. Customers generally do not appreciate this fee, and it is best to avoid it altogether.

c. Flat or measured line rates choices really come to light after a POTS line is installed. Make sure there is an understanding of the volume of calls that will be going over the lines to ensure the right choice was made for each location. It is difficult to change billing issues after service has been installed, so be sure you catch as many of them up front as possible. It will save headaches for both you and the customer.

d. POTS business is notorious for quoting a price different from what is actually billed. Make sure you have all agreed to line pricing and installation costs documented prior to implementation, and verify the bills after implementation. The customer will appreciate your help with the bill management and verification process.