When planning a new phone system or upgrading a legacy system it’s worth putting the time in to map your requirements first.
VoIP is the future of business communications. It can be up to 60% cheaper than a traditional phone system, it’s quickly and infinitely scalable and includes a huge range of advanced features not available on traditional phone systems.
However before approaching solution providers take some time to answer the following questions and build your list of requirements.
- What type phone system are you currently using? Traditional phone or VoIP phone?
- If you have a VoIP system is it on premise or cloud hosted?
- Who will be using the new phones? Office based or remote workers?
- How many people will need a phone?
- What features and functionality do they need? IVR, call recordings, emailed voicemail?
- How many incoming calls will they receive at any one time?
- Will you need to route calls to multiple departments or offices?
- What’s your budget?
- What’s the speed of your current internet connection? Test here
- Do you have a dedicated internal IT resource?
A phone for everyone
Although you may think that all phones were created equally the features of a VoIP phone can be tailored to the job of each user. So whether you have sales, support, marketing or directors find out what their needs are and then find a phone and set of features to suit them. For example sales will need an expansion module to deal with a large phone book, support will need call recording and directors will need a VIP line and call routing via a PA or virtual receptionist.
The size and location of your office will dictate some aspects of the infrastructure required for your new phone system. However some decisions will be influenced by how your office operates.
- Is the number of staff fixed or does it fluctuate?
- Will you be sending or receiving large amounts of data while calling?
- Do you require a secure or encoded line for sensitive information?
- Will you be hosting conference calls?
- Do you have offices abroad?
Once you have your answers and a list of features that would be beneficial you will have a better idea of your requirements. This information will be invaluable when you start to approach phone system providers.
Top 10 tips for choosing the right VoIP phone system provider
- Shop around
Shop around to find the best price and always try and get like-for-like quotes based on your set of requirements not pre-defined packages. Some providers offer a price matching service.
- Check their awards
Industry awards are a good indication that a company is being recognised for the quality of their products and services. See when they last won an award and if the category they won matches your industry or size of business.
- Compare call plans
If you make a high volume of mobile or international calls find out whether they will be covered in an inclusive call plan. If not, find out the cost of additional minutes as it may not be cost effective to go over your allowance.
- Get a free trial
Try before you buy and if they won’t let you, say bye bye. It’s vital to give any prospective system a real world test drive before deciding, so get a free trial and use it in your office environment.
A Service Level Agreement (SLA) defines the level of service that is to be expected. These can vary between providers so make sure to ask for a copy and compare. Typically 99.99% availability is offered with a 5 hour fix time on faults.
- Read the small print
Unlimited never means unlimited so check the fair usage policy and find out what numbers and destinations are excluded from call plans. Check whether or not the contract will auto renew or require some action from you to cancel.
- Speak to existing customers
Read reviews (Trustpilot is a popular platform), testimonials and case studies to get an idea of who they have worked with previously. But ideally talk to an existing customer about their experience.
Is training available? What level of training or support is included? If VoIP is new to your business some staff my need more help than others with getting setup and used to the new features.
- Check the term options
Some providers offer a range of fixed term contract lengths or flexible rolling contracts. Find out how they affect the overall price and how upgrades or additional services alter the contract term.
- Don’t panic!
If you’re not technical and you don’t have an internal IT resource there are independent consultants available. It’s important to understand what you’re buying as you will be using the system every day, so get help if you need it.
Lastly here are some quick do’s and don’ts to consider when you’re planning your new phone system.
- Run a speed test and review your local broadband speeds
- Test your service provider before committing – call their support line
- Use a VoIP provider that is a member of ITSPA and preferably one that has earned a Quality Mark certification
- Use VoIP if your internet access is poor or slow
- Try to cut costs on hardware and internet access – your firm’s reputation will be damaged by poor call quality
- Choose separate providers for your phones, SIP trunks and broadband
Join the VoIP phone revolution
Once you have done your research and mapped your staff and office requirements you will be ready to work with your chosen telephony provider on creating your new phone system. You will then join the growing number of businesses that use a cloud-based phone system to improve their service and reduce their costs.
If you would like any help with planning your new business phone system contact us or call our team today and they will be happy to help – 0345 557 6100