Digital telecommunications, mostly in the form of VoIP (voice over internet protocol) phones, has begun to replace analog phone systems. This trend is understandable because of the advantages in call quality, cost, and other factors. Before deciding to try and take advantage of this technology, you need to answer some questions about your business needs and budget. Read on to learn more about ten questions you need to ask about your business before jumping on the VoIP train. Take a little time and gather some information on both your current infrastructure and needs before choosing specific products and services.
1 – What equipment will we need?
Just before the switch to VoIP, evaluate your existing phones, routers, servers, and so on. A good IP telephony system requires a high capacity for data usage, and stability too. Be sure to shore up any weaknesses before taking the leap into cloud-based telecommunications. Enlist a VoIP expert to help evaluate your current infrastructure to ensure your future phone system performs as expected.
2 – How much will this cost?
Of course, the cost will vary from one provider to the next, but the number of users will be the single biggest factor in your cost, just as it is with POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service) systems. The full cost of VoIP adoption will include the cost per line to set it up, probably $125 to $250 per line, and an ongoing cost of $20 to $30 per month per user. The monthly cost per extension varies with provider and based on the cost of any optional features you want.
3 – How user-friendly is the system?
Going from a legacy system everyone understands to a complex IP telecom system that is not user-friendly can be quite disruptive. You want to make sure the new system will be easy to master. Look at the quality of training materials too. You don’t want to buy a powerful system and invest hundreds of unnecessary hours in mastering some difficult and needlessly confusing systems. A good VoIP phone will be easy to use. The advanced features, like call bridging or conferencing will be clearly explained.
4 – How much are we spending on telecom services now?
Think about your phone bill first. Bearing in mind that VoIP systems can replace video chat and video conferencing, consider adding subscription fees for that software. Once you have a monthly figure, you can compare the cost of switching. Don’t forget to look up the installation and setup fees the current phone provider charged. This is the only way to know how long it might take to start saving money.
5 – Do we have a suitably fast and stable internet connection?
This is partly a question of speed and partly a question of current usage. If your company has a fast and stable broadband connection, it could be enough. However, if your business is a heavy user of Web-based services or data sources, including things like podcasting or videos, you may need more bandwidth to accommodate the demands of IP telephone and telecom services. Check your bandwidth usage currently and estimate how much IP telephony might add.
6 – What features does our system need to have?
You can survey employees to find out what features and functions they want. You can also use your own experience to generate a list. You could compile that information in two ways, either as a list of the top five or six features the system must have, or as a longer list divided into “must have” features and features that would be nice to have.
7 – Does the system need to support a remote workforce?
If you work extensively with hybrid and 100% remote workers, make sure the system has the collaboration and communication tools that your team already uses. The right IP phone services can replace company cell phones and standalone conferencing or collaboration tools, but it might cause problems if employees cannot use mobile devices to access familiar productivity apps or collaboration tools.
8 – Are you planning to grow or expand?
Just like a traditional phone system, expanding the VoIP system will not be free. You want to plan for future growth, especially if the business might open new locations or have more remote employees in the future.
9 – Who can handle system support issues?
Any business telecommunications system is going to need updates and will encounter bugs or glitches eventually. Who handles what? You should be able to make minor changes to your own system, like changing the employee associated with a particular number. The vendor should be able to offer responsive support as well as a self-help portal for administrative tasks.
10 – What features come standard and how much do options cost?
This question for prospective vendors is an important one. This information is what you need to calculate an accurate cost for a system that meets your needs. Don’t assume an inexpensive system is a good deal; Sometimes a critical feature is not available at all or adds a few thousand dollars to your annual telecom costs.
Do Your Homework to Ensure a Smooth Transition
Answer the questions listed above and you will have a much better understanding of what it will take to manage a smooth transition to VoIP telephone service. If you are unsure, contact DirecTech for a consultation. Our VoIP solutions replace landlines, web conferencing, and video chat, as well as integrating with Salesforce and Outlook, to streamline communication.