I am a Bloomberg radio fan – I mainly listen in my car on Sirius® radio and glean tips from the guests of Betty Liu and Tom Keene. Recently they were discussing a new mobile app called BillGuard, which reviews your credit card statements to watch for fraudulent purchases and help save you money. I am not sure it is better than my watchdog wife who works in banking, but it sure is easier! With BillGuard, you have the ability to set spending goals and search for coupons related to the items you most often purchase. This certainly got my attention. Since the 2008 recession, most of us are on the watch for ways to reduce and monitor our spending.
The BillGuard story also reminded me of a service offered by Environmental Standards, Inc.: a Cerberus of your analytical service spending. Our team has critically reviewed the laboratory invoicing records for a number of industrial clients who intelligently contract directly with their analytical service providers, rather than subcontracting this important function through consulting firms. The critical review compares the financial data received from the contracted laboratories against our client’s contract, their work requested, a Chain-of-Custody, and the actual services received. Routinely the review identifies discrepancies, prohibited charges, and omissions of late delivery penalties and other contractual requirements. While we haven’t yet developed an app, my group performs this task manually and – even at an hourly rate to do so – the savings in the reduced overcharges or incorrect charges is well worth the hourly rate. The real advantage is that instead of a contracts person reviewing the laboratory invoices, our analytical chemists examine the technical issues that are directly tied to the financial data.
For one client alone, our review of laboratory invoices resulted in a savings of $38,000 for activities related to a large remediation project. Many of these invoice changes were a result of:
- The laboratory included unit charges when the analyses should have been included in a flat daily rate
- The laboratory used the wrong unit charges (not the charges in their contract)
- Math errors (i.e., incorrect sample numbers or incorrect multiplication or addition)
In another case for an industrial client, the laboratory billed an entire sampling program up front, despite that the data had not yet been delivered. Based on Environmental Standards’ review and input, the original $200,000+ invoice was retracted and invoiced over a 4-month period (i.e., as the data were delivered), saving our client interest on the original invoice amount.
Needless to say, our version of “BillGuard” has been enlightening to our clients who routinely see significant benefits and ROI following our review. If your responsibilities include ensuring your laboratory dollars are being prudently spent, I’d encourage you to contact us for the Environmental Standards version of BillGuard.