We work with many clients helping them look at their current telephony platforms – largely aging PABXs. These systems often leave vendors and service providers the victims of their own success as they have provided rock solid telephony for years and required little, if any, in the way of upgrades or support. While most businesses recognise they need a replacement, an approved business case and budget can be a challenge. Now there is not just pressure from suppliers but also users who are demanding additional features such as mobility, unified communications and even video. So how do you select a new telephony system?
We saw this Dilbert cartoon and unfortunately felt it had a little too much truth behind it for comfort.
Most vendors are genuinely trying to find a way that their product or service can add value to your business but their focus is naturally centred on their own products and services. They do not understand your business or are as focused on return on investment as you. They are helping you justify your investment, you want the return to be a reality.
Here are a few areas we feel you should understand:
Clients often underestimate the current use of telephony and take it for granted. Step back and look at how your business communicates both internally, between colleagues or departments, and externally, with clients and suppliers. What do we do today? What is good? What could we do better? Will additional features such as instant messaging, presence, click to dial, mobility and video really help my staff and my business? If so how? Users may be hesitant of using the new features but they certainly expect to have all the old ones so make sure you know exactly what they have now.
What are vendors not telling you?
They will tell you about the new technology and new ways to work but ask yourself what issues may result. Here are some examples:
- VoIP – There may be only one network to support but it is a shared resource – what about congestion, quality of service, firewalls, power over Ethernet etc. Can your current network handle VoIP or is there costly upgrades required?
- SIP – There are considerable telco cost savings to be made but not every telco SIP service works with every telephony platform. Also network security should be addressed i.e. session border controllers? Do I get the same voice quality my users have had for years?
- Unified Communications – Telephony at the click of a button, see who’s available, voicemail in my email. All sounds great but who does the integration? What happens for the people that don’t work at a desk? Who trains the staff?
- Cloud – There is no longer any infrastructure to manage and the software is always up to date. Cloud based voice relies on a good network. Will you be using the public internet? – voice has very little tolerance for data errors without users experiencing poor quality. Do you need to upgrade your telco services? When the Cloud provider adds or changes features does some integration break, how do I manage the users through change, however small?
These are exciting opportunities to help your businesses be more efficient while also reducing costs. They will allow your business to be more responsive, quicker to market and deliver improved customer service. But embrace new technologies and services with your eyes wide open!
How to choose a vendor or supplier
Firstly, look close to home! Does your current technology do more than you are using it for? Can your supplier help you upgrade far more cost effectively and also reduce the time and cost of change? This option needs to be compared with what is in the market. So what is out there?
There are a number of technologies available and each will likely be available from different service providers. Some are for large organisations others are for SME’s. Some make administration available to you and others may offer to do everything for you. Again, the key is to understanding your business. What size are you? Do you fit with their other clients? What resources do you have? What service levels do you need? When you know your requirements you can choose a suitable partner.
Some clients have the internal resources to manage this themselves though not many have the time – alongside their business as usual responsibilities. TeleConsultants fits in with the resources our clients have available and add in-depth knowledge of vendor technology and the service providers available in New Zealand. This combined with years of experience of helping clients in this area adds considerable value. If this is something you are looking at we are keen to hear from you.