When looking for a new phone system today the primary question has changed from Should I get a POTS based phone system or a VoIP system? to What type of VoIP solution should I go with?
Here at CCB we recently switched to a new VoIP solution and know just how time-consuming it can be to evaluate all of the available options. To help you focus your search, I put together this list of the top things to consider and questions to answer while evaluating VoIP solutions.
1. Feature Set
Before evaluating what a new VoIP system can do for you, first identify all of the pain points of your current system. This will help you start to generate a list of requirements that a new system has to meet and help you immediately filter out some VoIP solutions. From there you can start to identify some of the extra features that your company could benefit from.
These are features I prioritized:
|Reporting||Ease of management|
|Call monitoring||Call recording|
This decision is being made in more and more areas of our business these days, and when considering phone systems, you can go either way.
- Do you have the capacity to run one or more virtual machines necessary to accommodate the phone system software?
- With on-premise systems, you’re typically talking about a CapEx purchase, so depending upon your financial situation, this might make more sense to you.
- Would you rather not have another on-premise system to manage?
- Would you prefer an OpEx purchase with a monthly payment?
Who doesn’t love it when their systems integrate with one another? Depending upon the current software that your company employs or the software it’s looking to implement in the future, this could be a deal breaker. For CCB, it was a fairly important requirement and I used this to narrow my search results.
Here are some questions to consider:
- Does the system integrate with Active Directory?
- Do you have any internal software such as a CRM or ERP system that would benefit from being tied to the phone system?
- From a CRM standpoint, the ability for the phone system to automatically register calls, voicemails, etc. into a CRM can be a huge boost in your sales team’s efficiency.
Most businesses would prioritize their phone system in the critical column when asked its level of importance. It would then make sense to only consider systems that have a high level of reliability.
- Does the VoIP system offer any type of SLA? Determining an acceptable amount of downtime can help you identify how much you are willing to pay for the amount of uptime.
5. Availability & Mobility
This might not initially be something you consider when conducting your search, but it might be more applicable than you think. With today’s workforce choosing to work wherever they have access to a computer, mobile phone, and internet, how does your phone solution fit into this situation?
With more of the workforce becoming mobile, consider these questions during your evaluation:
- Can your employees utilize your phone system while working remotely?
- Do you have to purchase any extra hardware or software to achieve true remote capabilities?
Everyone has deadlines to keep and depending upon the timeframe you will have to implement a new phone system, how long it will take could be an important factor.
- Based upon the size of your organization, how long will it take to implement the solution?
- Does the solution come with implementation assistance?
- Does the solution come with user training?
- Can you move any settings from your current phone system to the replacement VoIP solution?
Leveraging an experienced IT partner can help you meet your goals and make the implementation process smoother.
7. Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)
Does your company employ any BYOD policies? If so, here are some key features to consider in the phone system:
- Does the system offer any type of softphone application that users can use a headset with instead of just a traditional desk phone?
- This can alleviate laptop users from having to be at their desk to place and receive phone calls.
- Is there any type of application for mobile devices such as Android or IOS where users can place calls directly from their mobile phones?
- Is the sign-in process to the phone system tied to Active Directory where personal computers won’t work?
8. Proof of Concept (POC)
With the phone system having such an impact on the entire company, I would not recommend even considering a solution that does not offer an adequate trial period, or POC. I would also recommend strategically putting together a test group of employees that are good at giving detailed feedback.
There are so many questions that can only be answered by actually implementing the solution for a trial timeframe with people that will be actually be using it.
- How does the solution handle the load placed upon it?
- What type of feedback did you get from the test group chosen for the POC? This is an invaluable source of information to determine if the VoIP solution is going to work for the company.
- Is the POC using the same platform and licenses that you would receive if you purchased the solution? This is critical to determine as you don’t want to have any misconceptions on what the POC can do and what the actual system you are looking to purchase can do.
- Do you have full access to the solutions support team during the POC? It is important to be able to engage with support prior to choosing a solution and experience how their engineers will work with you during the various problems you will have from time to time.
9. Selling the VoIP Solution to Your Boss
This is often one of the hardest parts of any project. You conduct a thorough search to ensure that the phone system checks all of your boxes, but in the end unless you can sell it to your boss, you can’t move forward. Here are some suggestions on preparing for that discussion:
- Start with the bottom line: are there significant savings that the company will realize by making the change? Look at both the short and long term financial impact.
- Talk about increased efficiencies: Highlight new features that will simplify processes and increase productivity. What are important enhancements to phone system management?
- Close with mobility and accessibility: focus on the impact the solution could have on your continuity plan and the availability of the solution from literally anywhere.
With that said, it’s of vital importance to talk with all departments to ascertain how they currently interact with the phone system and what they would like to see in a new one.
If you align their goals with yours, not only will you have more people in your corner when it comes time to making a decision, but you will also have a higher user adoption rate when it comes to implementing the solution.
Making the Right Choice
After all the questions were asked and trials were conducted, we decided to “cut the cord” and move to a VoIP solution called RingCentral. We’ve been on it now for four months and we are enjoying features that we didn’t have access to before with our traditional system.
The migration was easy and our employees did a great job of learning and embracing the new technology – and the cost savings was significant. It was a decision that has worked well for us.
Want help learning about VoIP solutions for your organization?
We can help you find, procure, and implement the right VoIP solution for your company. Let us know what you need.