Getting the right phone system for your business shouldn’t be difficult. After all, most of you who are reading this probably have better things to do with your time (like running your business or department). If it seems to you that phone system vendors do nothing more than confuse you with features, functions and technical jargon, you are not alone. Many folks throw their hands in the air when it comes to selecting a phone system and I can see why. Fortunately for you, it is not that hard to select the right phone system. No matter if you are a small medium business or a large enterprise, there is a basic set of questions you need to answer before selecting a phone system.
Here are 7 answers you need before selection a phone system:
- What type of phone system best fits your business? Advances in IP communications have made it possible to have a fully functional phone system hosted by your service provider (known as Hosted VoIP) in addition to a premise based phone system. In general, if your phone system is going to be used by more than 25 users, than a premise based solution will be your best choice. However, if you business phone system will have less than 25 users, you should look at both hosted and premise based solutions.
- Why are you looking for a new phone system? Besides the fact that you need to make and receive phone calls, what are the most important things that you are looking to get out of your phone system? Truth is, most phone systems are all the same. The only thing that separates one from another, in many cases, comes down to marketing. Are you looking for auto-attendant, voicemail, voicemail-to-email or find-me-follow me capability? Make list of all of things that you need to get out of your new phone system as well as a list of things that would be nice if your phone system had.
- Will your phone system integrate with other business systems? One of the benefits of an IP based phone system is the ability for the phone system to integrate with other business systems, like your CRM or ERP platform which will increase business efficiency and productivity. Some phone systems offer API’s for integration with certain software, however other phone systems do not offer this capability. Therefore make sure you know what other business systems require integration before you approach a vendor and ask the question when you are being presented with a solution.
- Will you be deploying, maintaining and supporting the phone system yourself? If you have a capable IT staff, chances are you can buy an IP based phone system you will be able to deploy and maintain the system yourself. If you do not have an IT staff, you might want to consider looking into a hosted VoIP solution, or make certain that you select a capable reseller that can provide these services for you.
- Who will be providing your voice service? Many companies make the mistake of buying a phone system before they figure out who will be providing the phone service. If you are going to be using VoIP, make sure your VoIP provider is compatible with your phone system. If you are going to use both VoIP and PSTN service, make sure your phone system vendor knows this, so that they can offer you the proper solution.
- What is the total cost of ownership? Most businesses making the switch to VoIP are looking to save money. In order to better understand how much you will be saving make sure you take a look at the total cost of ownership. Buying purely on price can easily get you into trouble: more reliable, expandable systems do tend to cost more per user up front – but the savings you will see in the long run make it worthwhile. In addition to being able to add more users as your company grows, you should find out how easily your phone system can be upgraded as new features and technologies are released.
- What do your users want? Take into consideration the needs of each employee or employee type. Prior to purchasing a system, ask each of them what they would like to see out of an IP phone or phone system. Remember, sometimes it is best to let the sweeper select the broom.
When selecting a phone system you will certainly encounter more questions, problems and issues than the considerations named above. However, if you answer the seven questions listed above prior to starting your search for a new phone system, you will find that you will be better prepared for each discussion that you have with a phone system and will be much more satisfied with your phone system purchase.
If you have more questions about phone system solutions for your business, please contact us, or check out the phone system offerings here.