Uncovering Hidden Savings in the M&A Integration Process

Author: Ann Flynn, President & CEO, IQ Telecom

Publication: Connecticut Bankers Association Quarterly, March 2021.

This article explores the specific impact that M&As can have on telecommunication expenses in a world where the number of banks is shrinking, technology is advancing rapidly, customer acquisition is fiercely competitive, and remote work is a new norm.

A recent Lexology® article cited research done by investment advisor FJ Capital Management on banking mergers and acquisitions (M&As). It indicates that M&As will accelerate by mid-2021 and continue robustly for five years. This long period of bank M&A activity is likely to result in as much as 50% fewer banks in the US over the next decade. In addition, respondents weighing in on a Datasite® survey also expect M&A activity to increase in 2021. This research points to financial and real estate services that will accounts for 22% of this activity.  (See 2021 M&A Outlook infographic.)

The world has seen how the Covid-19 pandemic has reshaped our lives, affecting all industries. While recovery is expected, there are many variables, including governmental, technology, and health care, that will influence ongoing M&A activity. Domestically, under the new administration, we are likely to see more regulatory enforcement in the financial services industry.

Technological advances over the last few years have already changed the banking industry with banks moving away from traditional legacy phone systems to converged networks and implementing Voice over IP (VoIP) platforms. The overall goals are to reduce costs and improve efficiency with converged systems and more centralized support.

Business leaders navigating through an M&A processes typically look at efficiencies and overall cost savings. While they focus on reducing the cost of office space, staff expenses, and consolidating administrative functions, they can overlook voice and data expenditures as another opportunity to reduce expenses. The departments that mange IT services are typically not at the table during the planning process. While finance departments are responsible for paying these costs, they often do not have time, visibility and/or expertise on how to reduce these expenses across the organization as sites close and merge.

Facilities departments often manage physical locations, while IT and finance oversee technology, software, physical workstations, onsite and remote worker support. Connecting the expense to the facilities requires multiple departments working together to identify services, costs and the demographics of each location. Companies frequently lack this visibility into their costs and services that allow them to make the decisions about what to retain and what to eliminate. While downsizing sites and head count is typical in an M&A process, identifying and reducing telecom expenses is not. Accounts Payable (AP) often pays invoices without knowing what services are billed or what technology changes are being done.

Not unique to banking is the decentralization of vendors and staff that support IT services and/or telephone providers. Businesses with multiple sites often have the main office manage the data services for all remote locations, while field locations manage local voice services. This further complicates the challenge of wrapping your arms around this information across sites to determine how, or what, services and expenses can be adjusted and/or eliminated to support site changes. Therefore, visibility of services & costs becomes extremely valuable.

By the time a merger or acquisition is announced, the executive decision makers have discussed, established, and worked through a checklist of priorities for consolidations and cost saving opportunities. It is highly recommended that the management teams guiding the M&A process should ask, “How do we identify the voice/data services and systems across the organization with the goal of eliminating unused and unnecessary services to further reduce costs?” Another apt question is “How do we identify what we are paying for and what these services support?”  This all circles back to visibility. Accurate and thorough audits of inventory and expenses across all sites brings all of these services and costs front and center.

A typical telecom expense management (TEM) company manages processing invoices, creating payment files, and reporting on those expenses. Finance departments are then responsible for paying these on time and allocating expenses across the organization. Validating the accuracy and the necessity of the expenses is often not part of the payment process.

At IQ Telecom (IQT) we start with identifying and validating the services from each invoice, at every location before we ever move onto bill payment. We firmly believe that visibility into each cost incurred is crucial. We determine what services are in use at each location, and what business function they support. The process of identifying services no longer needed begins.  An inventory of services and costs is delivered to the customer so clear and accurate baselines are in place. This process results in savings of 15% on average of the overall telecom expenses.

As the banking industry shifts and changes due to technological advances and the game-changer Covid-19 pandemic, it must also be focused on market share and customer service. To attract and retain consumers, banking needs to be about availability and convenience which can directly influence decisions of where to locate offices and what services to offer at each location.

At the end of the day, it is all about supporting the customer as variables continue to fluctuate. It is, therefore, important for organizations to know what services they have and what they are paying for to identify what changes to make. This may sound like common sense, but: How do you know if you need to change technology and/or add services, if you do not know your inventory?  This is where visibility becomes key to identifying additional savings throughout the merger and/or acquisition processes which are designed to leverage technology, reduce costs, secure customers and increase market share.

About IQ Telecom (IQT)

For nearly 20 years, IQT has applied deep industry knowledge, developed effective processes, and created a robust management tool, IQ360°, to capture and organize volumes of data. IQT does not sell telecom services, nor are we affiliated with any providers or vendors. Our blended approach of expertise and technology allows us to provide unbiased recommendations and guidance to reduce costs and streamline processes. IQT has partnered with mid to large organizations to realize millions of dollars in savings resulting in trusted partnerships with our customers at thousands of locations.

The value and success of IQT’s “Best Practices” includes rigorous and detailed methodologies to identify all billable services and reduce costs. IQT‘s teams can help you far beyond a traditional TEM.

About the Author

Ann Flynn saw a need for holistic, location-based, inventory-centric telecom management, cost containment, and high-quality customer service. In response, she established IQ Telecom in 2001, a certified Woman-Owned Enterprise, and developed a proprietary telecom services solution, IQ360°. Ann has received accolades from enterprise clients for outstanding performance and numerous awards, including Women of Innovation.

Contact:  Ann Flynn, President & CEO | (o) 860.882.0500 | ann.flynn@iqt360.com



Building an Inventory, Securing Refunds, & Creating Cost Savings

The client is a national provider of physical therapy services with over 500 locations and monthly total telecommunications expenses
of approximately $200,000.

They had thousands of invoices, hundreds of locations, and knew that the phone bills were out of control. They had no insight into their
inventory or a way of identifying issues.

How did this business realize over $800,000 in annual savings?

IQT can do this for you. The powerful combination of our expertise and the IQ 360° tool provides unparalleled visibility and control over
your telecom spend, so you can focus on your business and increase your bottom line.


IQT Drives $20M Cost Reduction for Large Financial Institution

The Challenge

Facing mounting challenges due to closures, acquisitions, and relocations of staff, the client struggled to keep up with the telecom landscape. These challenges resulted in services that continued to bill at inactive locations, new services added that were not billing contracted rates, and late payment fees that continued to erode the bottom line. There was simply no visibility into what services were where and/or their costs.

The Solution

IQT built a comprehensive location-based inventory of services and associated costs using provider invoices and other records. Working with the client, we identified and removed unnecessary services, reconciled contract rates, and secured refunds. Then, IQT implemented “change management” processes using IQT 360° – our unique platform – to monitor and maintain ongoing changes.

While inventory baselines were created, IQT began processing invoices, enabling our teams to validate charges in real time every month. Billing discrepancies were identified, disputed and resolved, and the integrity of the inventory and the associated charges were maintained.

The Results

IQT’s proven processes and rigorous methodologies resulted in a $3 million cost savings in year one. Ongoing auditing continued to identify billing errors and eliminated unnecessary and/or redundant services, resulting in a three-year reduction of over $20 million. In addition to bottom line cost savings, the customer gained full visibility into services at each of their locations This enabled them to make timely decisions about infrastructure and maintain budgets.



IQT can do this for you

The powerful combination of our expertise and the IQ 360° tool provides unparalleled visibility and control over your telecom spend, so you can focus on your business and increase your bottom line. IQT’s industry experts will provide visibility into your telecommunications environment, identify and take action to realize immediate savings, and develop processes to manage and maintain inventory and costs. Contact us today to get started.





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Ann Flynn, IQT’s CEO, selected as finalist for the 2020 Women of Innovation award

The Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology (CCAT) and the Connecticut Technology Council (CTC) have announced the 50 women who have been selected as Women of Innovation® finalists for the 16th Annual Women of Innovation awards. Included in this distinguished list for a second time is our CEO, Ann Flynn.

Flynn, who lives in West Hartford, has been a leader and entrepreneur in the telecommunications industry for more than 40 years. IQT, which she founded, will celebrate 20 years in business next year, and among her many accomplishments at the company is the development of an innovative inventory and expense management software platform called IQ 360°. IQT currently manages annual revenue in excess of $1 billion at more than 5,000 locations. Flynn holds a bachelor’s degree in Information Management, and she earned an Executive Certificate from Dartmouth College.

This is her second consecutive year as a finalist for this prestigious honor. In 2019, she was included in the category of Entrepreneurial Innovation and Leadership, and this year she is a finalist in the category of Small/Medium Business Innovation and Leadership.

“Being included in this incredible group of Connecticut women in technology is such an honor,” Flynn said. “I’ve been an advocate for women in the tech fields for decades now, and it’s wonderful to see such a broad range of achievements being recognized like this.”

The Women of Innovation program celebrates the women who are leading Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) throughout Connecticut. Finalists are the scientists, researchers, academics, manufacturers, student leaders, entrepreneurs, and technicians who create tomorrow’s advancements through their efforts in Connecticut today.

Women of Innovation finalists are nominated by their peers, coworkers, and mentors, and are selected based on their professional experience, history of innovation, ability to think creatively and solve problems, and demonstration of leadership. The finalists were selected from more than 150 women nominated this year, one of the strongest fields in the 16 years of Women of Innovation.


About IQ Telecom (IQT)

Founded in 2001, IQT helps its clients identify & eliminate unnecessary spending by providing visibility and control of these costs. IQT provides expert analysis and management of telecommunications assets in an intuitive, relational, web-based system for true life-cycle management. A certified woman-owned business with years of industry experience and insight, IQT has helped some of the country’s largest and most prominent companies streamline their telecom operations and reduce their costs.