Communications are the lifeblood of any business, which is why choosing the right vendor and system are critical. As you move through the buying process, look for providers who can give you the flexibility and functionality you need today, along with a system that will grow with your business in the future.
Choosing a new telecom system is a big decision and you want to get it right. The stakes are high as the wrong choice can stifle your company’s productivity, impede customer service and make a major dent in your bottom line.
To make sure you have a thorough understanding of your communications needs, answer the following questions before you buy:
1. What vendors and solutions do we currently have in place?
* Review current contracts and solutions. * If you have onsite equipment, when are contracts set to expire? Where is your equipment in the depreciation cycle? * Do any of your current systems or software have integration capabilities you’ll need to maintain or update?
2. What challenges and frustrations do we have with our current system?
* What aspects of it do we like? What features do we wish we had?
3. What are our current costs and what is our budget?
* Don’t forget to factor in ongoing costs such as upgrades and maintenance.
4. How much fluctuation is there in our communications needs?
* Do you experience seasonality or spikes in your business that would be better handled in the cloud or with SIP trunks?
5. How much are we expecting our business to change and/or grow?
* Some phone systems are designed for a specific number of users and it can be quite surprising to learn that the phone system you bought last year is no longer able to support your business this year because you have added employees.
This can be a very costly mistake so it’s important to find out, in advance, the process for adding more phones, increasing access, or adding more locations. The last thing you want to hear is that you’re going to have to spend thousands to replace or upgrade your phone system because it can’t scale quickly and easily. Even worse, when a phone system reaches its capacity, callers get a fast busy signal and cannot connect – resulting in a poor corporate appearance, bad customer experiences and, quite possibly, lost business.
6. Are we looking to change from a CapEx model to a monthly subscription OpEx model for any of our communications?
* For example, if you are planning remote offices and don’t have the IT staff to support them you might have the service managed from the cloud, or you may want to consider delivering communications applications from the cloud.
7. Do we have specific compliance measures we must meet (e.g., PCI, HIPAA)?
* If so, what are they?
8. What features are essentials for our business to have and why?
* Consider what makes sense for your business. Don’t get pressured into purchasing features you don’t need and/or that go beyond your budget.
9. Do we need to plan for remote offices and/or a mobile workforce?
* Often, requirements are based on the needs of the head office leaving mobile workers and telecommuters to figure out their own workaround solutions in order to stay connected. This often leads to higher costs for long distance, poor call quality, and worker frustration.
Knowing how the telecommunications system can handle mobile workers or telecommuters is important to know before you buy. Find out how you can connect someone who is on the road.
* Are softphones or conference bridges included?
* Can a telecommuter have the same phone as an employee at head office? * Can an office worker work from home and have the same phone as is on the desk at the office?
10. Do we have multiple sites and do we need to address 911 Service?
* In an emergency situation at your office, what will happen if someone dials 911 on the new phone system?
* Will the 911 dispatchers know where the caller is, or will the caller be required to provide address details?
* What if you have centralized trunking services at your HQ or Data Centre, but have multiple sites?
Understanding the differences between Basic 911 and E911 and how your telecom system provides information to emergency services could mean the difference in saving someone’s life – maybe even your own. Ensuring your provider is in full compliance of regulatory guidelines on 911 management will also save you from costly litigation as a result of not meeting the basic needs of your employees in the event of an emergency.