Forging a partnership

Customers are increasingly entering into contracts with a sense of them being partnerships with telcos, "and telcos are seeing themselves as partners rather than just suppliers", says Young.

Customers are increasingly entering into contracts with a sense of them being partnerships with telcos, “and telcos are seeing themselves as partners rather than just suppliers”, says Young.

Things can be complicated when your provider isn’t just one telco but two or more providers and perhaps partners OF the telcos as well.

“Telcos are increasingly bringing in other partners to provide a complete service. Two years ago, it wasn’t common, but it is becoming more common.”

The partnering is a good thing in that it broadens the reach of the telcos, says Young, but who is responsible for what must be clearly defined in the contract.

There are errors to be avoided when drawing up a contract. A common one is to do it without external reference, Young says.

“Don’t just accept the first deal offered, because you’ll have no point of reference on pricing.”

Another mistake is to push too hard on price and brush over SLAs.

“It’s a balancing act.”

Most parties to telecomms contract negotiations get their lawyers involved at some stage, which Young says is a good move.

“But don’t get them involved until the intent of the contract is sorted out. Get them to do the wording.”

The key is to be sure of what you want, he says.

“If you know what you want, you can negotiate some quite good arrangements at the moment.”

The present is a particularly good time to be negotiating the mobile part of your contract, he says.

“Mobility is increasing and with Telecom’s Mobile JetStream and Vodafone’s GPRS, both companies are increasingly focused on the corporate market.”

Companies with trans-Tasman operations will also find the present a good time to secure good terms, he says. “From our experience, you can usually negotiate a better deal from this end than from Australia.”

Another trend in telecomms contract negotiations is increased openness by both parties, he says. “The more open you can be about your business, the better. It’s important.”

In the future, Young believes “we’ll see an extension of the trends we’re seeing already.

“We’ll probably see more contestability for service over time and we’ll see more systems integrators enter the market, which will drive that contestability.”

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