Saving on Mobile

New program leverages Duke’s purchasing power


A new program for managing Duke-paid mobile devices is expected to save $750,000 to $1.2 million across Duke.

The program, managed by Duke's Office of Information Technology (OIT), allows business managers to closely monitor and control costs associated with more than 4,000 mobile numbers across Duke University and Duke University Health System.

Similar to the standards for computer purchasing developed as part of the Duke Administrative Reform Team's cost-saving initiatives, the new mobile device management program reduces variability in plans and devices so they're easier to manage in the long run, said Leigh Goller, director of internal audits and DART analysis team member.

Based on a detailed analysis of usage, departments can select the most efficient plans and manage their own accounts and invoices online.

"This program allows us to leverage Duke's purchasing power and helps us make the smartest buying decisions while minimizing administrative costs," Goller said.

The program has helped Engineering and Operations save more than $2,000 a month on about 140 mobile numbers, said office manager Felicia Hodge.

Her maintenance workers field more than 100 calls a day from Duke clinics, hospitals and research areas, repairing everything from leaky ceilings to medical equipment.

"Sometimes we have overages, and it's important to know exactly what's going on," Hodge said. "With the new program, we're in total control all the time. If I have a new employee who needs a cell phone, I just go into the online system, make the change, and it's immediate. I love it."

OIT is working with interested Duke units to transition to the new program and will continue to negotiate contracts with Duke's preferred service providers, Verizon Wireless and AT&T.

"The greatest advantage is our online access: We can go in and change a faculty member's plan to add features, just as if it's our own personal phone," said Sharon Herndon, finance manager for the anesthesiology department in the School of Medicine.

Based on the pilot with anesthesiology, which is expected to save more than $15,000 annually, the entire School of Medicine now has joined the program.

"From a departmental perspective, OIT made it very easy," Goller said. "They came with detailed reports about usage trends and suggestions for the plans that might make most sense. There's an easy template for changing from centralized billing to a procurement card managed by one person in our office. It's easy, quick, effective and completely transparent."