Top Questions to Ask Before Implementing VoIPNovember 4, 2015 No Comments
Featured article by Sheldon Smith, Senior Product Manager, XO Communications
Thinking about a move away from traditional phone lines to a voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) solution? You’re not alone: According to Business Wire, the market is on track to reach almost 350 million subscribers by 2020 and generate $136 billion in revenue. However, before ditching your plain old telephone service (POTS) for a VoIP, it’s important to ask a few critical questions.
How Many Users Do You Have?
Before switching to a VoIP system, make sure it’s up for the challenge of handling your user base. Start by figuring out approximately how many employees need access to VoIP and from which platforms, then take into account the possibility of corporate growth over the next six months to a year. Armed with this information, look for a VoIP provider that supports at least 20 percent more users than you think you’ll absolutely need.
Why? Because growth estimates can quickly get left behind if your company makes significant headway into a new market, and in many cases users leverage multiple devices to access VoIP systems. As a result, it’s a good idea to “build” more space than you think you’ll need.
Can You Handle the Load?
As noted by Beta News, one key component of effective VoIP implementation is having the backbone needed to support this technology. There are two sides of this coin to consider. First is bandwidth: How much will you need, and can your VoIP provider support the load? What you’re looking for here is a provider that has both basic bandwidth needs covered and can scale up on demand in the event of a sudden traffic surge. Second, you need to examine current Internet connectivity, since your VoIP solution is only as good as your last-mile connection. If problems with your internal network or current Internet Service Provider (ISP) significantly hamper the speed or reliability of your connection, VoIP won’t be an effective investment. Handle connection issues before spending on VoIP.
What About Mobile?
Is your workforce mobile? The answer is yes, whether you know it or not: Employees told not to bring their devices inevitably find ways onto the company network using public cloud services. As a result, it’s better to embrace the mobile trend than avoid it; PC Mag notes that there’s an emerging trend toward mobile-based, phone-to-phone VoIP solutions. Bottom line? Better to plan for tablet and smartphone integration rather than trying to keep users at bay.
How’s the Service?
If everything seems good on paper the next step is to ask yourself about service: How does a prospective provider treat you? Does the provider value your business? There are a few telltale signs here. If you get an initial quote but follow-up questions take days or weeks to answer, be suspicious about its service. Additionally, if your inbox is stuffed full of promotions, coupons and links to marketing partners after receiving a quote, you may want to consider another offering. Take a look at online reviews before making any commitments, but always evaluate service on a case-by-case basis.
Have You Considered the Costs?
What’s it really going to cost for a VoIP implementation? Beyond the initial setup fee it’s important to consider the total cost of ownership (TOC) for any VoIP offering. This includes upgrade costs, maintenance and monthly service fees. If you opt for hosted rather than on-premises VoIP, for example, your startup costs are much lower but cost over time balances this. Considering TCO prior to implementation lets you choose a system that fits your budget rather than trying to scale back or build a newly minted VoIP solution to maximize ROI.
Want a smooth VoIP implementation? Consider your users, load and bandwidth — and don’t forget the value of great service or impact of TCO.
Sheldon Smith is a Senior Product Manager at XO Communications. XO provides unified communications solutions including: Cloud PBX, SIP Trunking, VoIP, and more. Sheldon is a results oriented leader and he has over 15 years of experience in the technology industry.
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