Voice over IP

Options for Call Detail Recording(CDR) and Call budgeting in PBX

Cost cutting, especially those that recur every month, seems to be the priority of companies these days. One thing that the companies can look in to, is reducing the calls and the call charges associated with the company telephony infrastructure. How much of control can a company have on its outgoing calls – let’s find out in this article.

No matter how much you monitor, there will always be users who would use the company infrastructure for making personal long distance calls after office hours. So, when an employee is staying back in the office after office hours – its time to check the reports for the outgoing calls from their extension! In a huge company, these unwanted calls can incur very high costs! And, it happens every month!

What is CDR?

Call Detail Recording is a mechanism through which the enterprise PBX generates reports on the recent calls made – either by the date, or a specific period, user extension, user department, longest duration calls, calls that originated after office hours for the last month, year etc. As you can see, there are a number of reports that a PBX gives with the variable of your choice, or all the variables. The PBX can also schedule to send these reports every day evening, in your email. This gives a clear picture of the calls that are made by employees, and their concerned departments.

In bigger companies, the calls made per department are charged back to the department. It is better to keep the PBX as a cost centre and charge the individual departments according to the calls made by the extensions of those departments. The responsibility of reducing the unwanted calls is now shared by the business head of the individual departments too! Especially if these call charges are reduced from their profits. Don’t be surprised, if your company is already doing that.

These detailed call usage reports are sometimes not available with the PBX vendors but external vendors sell it as an application that integrates with most of the common PBX models. These software applications sometimes give you many more options.

¤ A GUI interface is provided to generate custom reports, based on the variables set by the user.
¤ The reports can be generated in PDF or excel formats (with filters) to make it easy for reporting and analysing.
¤ There can be a cost attached to each call. This is especially useful to find out the actual cost being incurred by the extension, or department without further calculations. This is more complex than you think. There are many type of trunk lines going out of the company – like PRI, SIP Trunks etc. and each provider has a different cost calculation. The cost is different for local call, STD call and ISD call. The software calculates this based on the area code. And there are multiple call service providers. Also, the internal calls to other branches of the same company need to be discarded from the cost calculation, as they would most probably use the leased line connection to transfer the calls. If all the details are entered correctly, the software can give a accurate detail of cost incurred, directly as a report.
¤ If there is a common extension used by a lot of departments, then there could be a PIN number given to each department, and based on the PIN number typed by the user, the calls could be accounted for the appropriate department.
¤ If, calling certain numbers from the company PBX need to be monitored, then those calls could be entered in to the application and users dialing those numbers could be intimated. That’s spying though!
¤ Most of such Call accounting vendors support both IP PBX and the Mixed Type Analog PBX.

Call Budgeting:

This is one of the service providers feature, that can be applied to enterprise companies as well. The idea is: Every department is allocated a certain cost for every month, and the cost is entered in to the CDR application. When the department has crossed that limit, they are automatically barred from making more calls, and probably they need to take an approval to do more calls. Well, a more practical approach would be to notify the department head and let them worry about the costs without barring them from calling outside. Either way, there are software applications that integrate with PBX and allow you to do such a thing, without much manual intervention.

You might also be interested to read a related article, written sometime back : How VOIP helps reduce long distance call charges for enterprise companies

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