In this whitepaper we are going to discuss strategies on how to purchase and manage DID numbers. Before any numbers are sold, it’s important to first decide how you are going to order and manage these numbers. There are three main types of number purchasing and management strategies to focus on. The first is simply to purchase-as-needed. The second is to keep a number inventory, also called a number warehouse. The third is to have an API (application programming interface) strategy. Each of these have their own advantages and disadvantages and a companies’ structure, experience, and maturity typically determines which strategy to use.
Let’s start with purchasing-as-needed. This method is the most cost effective strategy and requires the least amount of overhead commitment. Typically the only overhead cost associated with a purchase-as-needed strategy is the negotiated minimum-monthly-commitment (MMC). Most start-ups use this strategy to keep cost down. The downside is management and the number order turn-around time. Depending on the ULC (under lying carrier), the number ordering and provisioning processes typically take 1-3 days and using multiple ULCs can complicate matters further. If you are this this point, you should be asking yourself three questions: Which ULC has number coverage in the requested area? Which ULC offers the requested features (T38, SMS, CNAM)? Which ULC has the most favorable cost structure (DID MRC, DID activation fee, DID usage cost)?
Once you have selected the ULC, placing the order is the next step. Depending on the ULC, number ordering can be done in a variety of ways; using a portal, sending an email, or placing a call. If using a purchase-as-needed strategy, I would recommend finding a carrier that has the ability to order and manage numbers through a portal. Using a portal provides order flexibility, order transparency, and order management making the process more efficient.
The second strategy, keeping a number inventory, provides the quickest provisioning with the most flexibility. Typically, more experienced and mature companies will be the ones who use this strategy. Number inventories, also called number warehouses, give reseller’s quick number turn around. Unfortunately, that comes at a cost which is the overhead cost to carry these numbers. Depending on the size of the reseller’s coverage footprint, a reseller can have thousands of rate centers to stock and manage, creating a large monthly recurring cost to cover. The longer a number sits in inventory, the longer it will take to recoup the carrying costs.
The next challenge with an inventory strategy, is the management of the actual inventory. Stocking thousands of rate centers, managing orders from multiple ULCs, returning numbers, and providing a variety of number features can be difficult to manage. That being said, having a DID IMS (inventory management system) is a must. VoIP Innovations services 8,500+ rate centers, aggregates dozens of ULCs, and offers every possible DID number feature. Without a DID IMS, we would not be scalable. The Titanium III DID IMS, was designed to make decisions and manage our DID number order fulfillment process. The Titanium IMS oversees items like deciding when a rate center needs restocked or deciding when a rate center is overstock. Deciding which carrier(s) has coverage for a particular rate center, which carrier(s) offer the required DID features, and which carrier(s) offer the best price. The IMS then sends a batched report to the provisioning person to place the order.
The third strategy is to have an API strategy in place. An API strategy provides the ability to tap directly into a ULCs number ordering and provisioning systems, giving the appearance of an inventory strategy without the costly overhead of an actual inventory. When the end user purchases a number through an API, the request is directly sent from the end user to the ULC and the number is provisioned in real-time. The reseller doesn’t have to manually request or stock the requested number. An API strategy provides the best of both worlds; real-time number ordering and provisioning, as well as low overhead commitment.
The downsides are finding a provider that fits a reseller’s business model (coverage footprint, features, and pricing), has a robust API as well as possessing the technical skill set needed to implement an API solution. That is where clearly defined documentation can help overcome some skill set limitations. Another piece to this strategy would be to have an API testing sandbox, which provides a nice way to practice and test the API before deployment. Visit VoIP Innovations API3.0 documentation to get an idea of capabilities and what to look for in other solutions.
In summary, there are three main types of number purchasing and management strategies. The first strategy is to purchase-as-needed and is normally used by start-ups and smaller companies. The second strategy is to keep a number inventory (also called a number warehouse). Remember, this is typically used by larger more established companies because of the overhead costs associated with it. The third is to have an API strategy that can be used by both small and large companies, depending on their technical skill set. Each of these strategies have their own advantages and disadvantages. The structure, experience, and maturity of the company will be what ultimately determines which strategy they use to be successful at purchasing and managing numbers.