TEMS Fanfare: Why TEMS Has Often Failed to Deliver

Over the years I haven’t been a big fan of TEMS, or at least a fan of how it has typically been sold. Let me give you an example. Several TEMS vendors have promised huge, ongoing savings due to carrier errors, and have often set false or exaggerated expectations. In other cases, companies that lacked the proper skill sets went out, licensed software and were suddenly in the TEMS business overnight. While not always the case, many of these companies were ill prepared to develop the processes, services and skill sets to properly scale and deliver a true ROI to their customers. These issues, and others, have often left a bad taste in the mouths of former TEMS customers.

However, there are several reputable software developers and service providers in the TEMS space that have clearly built good reputations along with unique product sets. Yet even among this group, many have seen TEMS implementations fail. But why?

I conducted an unscientific poll questioning our peers, staff, industry experts and customers as to what they thought were the top reasons that TEMS implementations fail. Here are some of the best responses along with a few of my own observations:

1) Lack of executive sponsorship and/or internal champions.

2) Partner lacks expertise in implementation.

3) Misconception of needs and requirements.

4) Sold as a bill auditing solution with endless savings opportunities.

5) Process inflexibility.

6) Tools poorly matched to business needs.

7) Lack of appropriate baselines and associated metrics to measure progress.

Tool is implemented without evaluating existing processes.

9) Unclear business case/ROI resulting in inappropriate expectations.

10) The rapidly changing terms and ideas behind expense management create confusion.

One of my favorite comments is the confusion over terms and the ideas behind expense management. TEMS, for example, means many different things to many different people. To compound this illustration, we have a variety of services that could include a TEMS component such as Life-Cycle Management, ERP and BPO. Providers, in turn, have attempted to lump customers into “solution sets” rather than customizing the solution to the customer’s needs. This is typically driven by the functional components of the system that they have created. So, rather than designing a solution (let alone a complete solution) for the customer, they try to match up the functions of the system to the singular needs it fulfills thereby leaving many customer needs only partially met.

In an upcoming BLOG I’ll discuss how TEM Solutions, methodologies, and capabilities have morphed over the years and where they are headed.

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