Buying a new phone system can be such an overwhelming task. There are many vendors, types of systems, and decisions to make. Your communication system is the lifeline of your business so you want to make sure it works, it fits your budget and meets your needs. Here are six steps to determining the right phone system for your business:
Complete a Needs Assessment
Start by deciding why you need a new phone system. Does the current one in place have problems? Do your employees need more functionality? What about your remote or mobile users? Understanding why you need something new makes a big difference in which vendors and functionality you will later choose. A good way to begin is to talk to your end users. They can give you honest feedback about what doesn’t work with your current system and what they would want in a new system. Finally, you will also want to determine the size of your new system and how you would like to purchase the system. It’s common these days to look at both leasing or buying. Determining a budget upfront allows your business to better negotiate as you talk to vendors.
Consider Voice InfrastructureThe next step is to determine what type of voice services you would want to deploy your system on. Traditional land lines use analog and digital devices to transmit phone calls. There are plenty of advantages to use, like still being able to use traditional phone line services like being able to connect during a power outage and if you have this solution in place – you may not want to make a major change. VoIP on the other hand uses a data connection to transmit voice packets. It’s extremely flexible and allow you to manage through an online portal for all locations. VoIP systems also provide the ability to install without a lot of fuss. They can be preconfigured and then hooked up with a quick plug and play option. Finally, there is an option for both types of systems called Hybrid. Hybrid systems allow your users to connect to traditional lines and to VoIP for long distance.
Choose a Deployment ModelThere are three types of phone systems including Premise-Based, Cloud and Hybrid. You can read more about three advantages of premise-based systems in this previous post but they give you the most control over your system. Cloud systems are not all created equal. If you choose to go cloud you’ll want to read more about private versus public. They require little capital expenditure and use a monthly services fee. You will lose control that on-premise solution allows, but they require little hardware. Finally, a hybrid phone system will allow you to utilize an on-premise system over a cloud network.
Examine Features and FunctionalityTelephone systems can do a lot more these days than just make a simple call. You’ll want to look at whether or not your company is interested in collaboration applications like presence or instant messaging. Are you interested in automated services like an automated attendant, automated directory services or automatic call distribution? What about video or audio conferencing? Features and functionality help you choose what the best method of delivery is for your organization. Don’t forget to talk to you end-users since they will help you assess your needs around what functions they might utilize the most.
Select a Vendor and DeviceNow that you know what type of voice infrastructure, deployment model and what features you are interested in it’s time to decide on a vendor. Consider first who will be installing the system. Do you want to outsource or will your internal staff do most of the work? Since phone systems are a hefty investment, you’ll also want to look at the total cost of ownership from installation to monthly fees and maintenance. Finally, consider aesthetics and ergonomics. You’ll want your system to visually match your environment. There are full color screen phones or more basic phones. Think about how easy the system is to use for your end-users for a better adoption rate.
Time for ImplementationRolling out a new system can be smooth or a headache. Anytime a change is made in your environment you’ll want to give your employees advanced notice a change is coming. No one likes their cheese to be moved without warning. You’ll then want to take an inventory to ensure you have proper cabling and drops in place. It’s also important to set up a test environment to make sure you work out any loose ends before involving your end-users. Next, you’ll want to train your users so they can ask questions and get familiarized. By completing the above actions, your system installation will have a better chance of being streamlined and working properly.
Now that we’ve shared the basics, you can formulate a strategy for your environment and team. You can opt for a free technology assessment here. If you’d like to learn more, we’d love to provide additional information. You can reach out to us directly or if you’d like to download a more in-depth guide click here.