Many businesses are looking to upgrade their phone systems in order to leverage the benefits that Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and Unified Communications and Collaboration (UCC) can provide them with. The benefits of VoIP and UCC are vast, especially for a smaller business. Yet there are things IT administrators need to know and answer during their decision-making process in order to avoid potential traps during this transition.
- Ensure Accountability – Many small businesses neglect the fact that transitioning to VoIP is more than just an IT or telephony project, when, in fact, it requires elements of both. It is essential to delegate responsibility to a team member who has the most technical experience as well as decision-making authority. Some organizations fall into the trap of seeing VoIP as a purely telephonic project and end up not assigning accountability at all for deployment and maintenance. Ensure that the right person (or team) with the right skill set is assigned to manage the project from the beginning. If the company does not have this particular skill set in-house, it should choose a vendor that can manage the project from the planning stages to implementation and ongoing maintenance.
- Use a Deployment Plan – Another common VoIP mistake is implementing the VoIP initiative without a carefully considered and thought-out deployment plan. Regardless of whether the business is a small office or home office with five or fewer users or a larger small or medium-sized business with 150 users, working with and sticking to a plan helps reduce delays, as well as reducing downtime, unexpected additional costs, and frustration, all of which will reduce the impact on core business activities during the transition process. Elements of the transition include hardware acquisition, software installation, and bandwidth requirements, as well as the actual roll-out phase of the VoIP project. Some companies will run both the old and the new telephony systems in parallel for a few days in order to provide overlap, during which adjustments and staff training can be undertaken.
- Use the Best Router – While it is more than likely that your new VoIP phone system will use many of the same protocols used by your existing local-area-network infrastructure, another common VoIP mistake is to overlook that it is also equally likely that it is outdated and not optimized for transmitting voice traffic. When implementing a VoIP phone system, it is best to invest in good equipment in order to ensure that it will function correctly from the beginning and well into the future. In order to choose the right equipment, make sure to understand the size of the system, the number of users/extensions, and the expected call volumes. In addition, when choosing a router, purchase one that is business-grade and has Quality of Service (QoS) among its features. QoS will ensure that your VoIP calls are handled with the appropriate priority levels and call quality.
- Choose the Right Broadband Provider – Common complaints about VoIP that often deter companies from switching to VoIP include low quality, higher call drop-off rates and excessive downtimes. A simple and effective way to solve these problems is to choose a reputable provider and select a plan with sufficient bandwidth to fulfill voice- calling requirements. After the transition to VoIP has been made, all VoIP calls will be transmitted over an organization’s network and broadband services, meaning that services that were previously sufficient for daily Internet requirements may no longer be sufficient for a VoIP system. Speak to your VoIP provider or value-added reseller (VAR) and choose a plan that will be more than sufficient for current and future needs.
- Review User Requirements – It is important to speak with users in order to analyze which features and tools will be best-suited to which employees, teams, or departments. Keep in mind an organization’s customers, who will also be using the new services and engineer for their needs as well. For instance, if automated attendants are difficult to use or offer too many options, callers may become confused and frustrated, which may affect the corporate image.
Switching to VoIP requires the buy-in of both the IT and telephony staffs. Taking into account the issues addressed above can help make the transition seamless and will then create a more productive working environment for all. VARs can facilitate these transitions by educating customers, finding the best solution to companies’ needs by including all involved and then handing off the project smoothly with the proper documentation, training, and support. This will ensure a customer for life and additional revenue in the future.
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