Posted on Tue, Apr 30, 2013 @ 11:02 AM by Carlos Lahrssen
Can you list your business’ current technology needs? For many, recognizing the need for new business communications technology is the first step toward upgrading current systems and realizing value.
Figure out your business’ unique communication technology with the following 5 steps we’ve found useful when helping our own clients:
1. Define Your Pain Points
What do you wish your business could do in terms of communications technology, and what’s holding you back from having those capabilities? The most holdups to switching phone systems we’ve found are customer apprehensions about the cost involved in purchasing IP phones and anxiety around installation timelines. (See if your provider offers aggressive leasing plans for IP phones, and can commit to an installation timeline that works around business downtime and keeps network connectivity up.)
Many businesses we work with aren’t even aware of some of the features now available through IP telephony services, such as mobility, virtual presence, web portal access, ad-hoc or n-way conference capabilities, and visual voicemail. Other common concerns stem from the overwhelming technical aspects of hosted communications, previous poor experiences, or downtime during lengthy installation periods.
Choose a provider that can explain in detail, system features, installation timelines, invoicing and total cost comparisons from current local exchange carrier (LEC) or public switched telephone network (PSTN) lines, and expectations on service and support.
2. Identify Your Goals
Think about what you hope to achieve for your business long-term. Will a mobile workforce, better incoming call management, or better call tracking capabilities move you closer to achieving overall business goals?
Identify the business-related functionalities you need, and a technology solutions provider will be able to match those functionalities to enabling products and systems.
3. Determine Budgets
Identify current spend and returns. Then, forecast the returns expected with new technologies before contacting a potential provider.
Ask for a comparison between hosted VoIP and more traditional LEC or PTT telephone systems. You may be surprised to compare more features available under the VoIP technology at a much lower cost.
4. Organize and Evaluate
Take an internal assessment of your organization’s IT environment and communications systems to ensure your business can support new technologies. In specific regard to business communications technology, consider:
- Wireless Network: Evaluate overall performance, connectivity, access points, end points, security threats, and growth in traffic from mobile devices.
- Telecommunications Services: Assess current voice, data and video carrier services and technologies.
- Unified Communications: What video, voice, data, switching, messenger, conferencing and collaboration technologies are in place? How often are these technologies used, and what’s the return in terms of efficiencies, travel, or professional development and retention?
Define systems that work, and issues or holes in systems that fail. Be ready to discuss challenges and opportunities with potential providers to ensure business needs are met.
5. Pull in the Experts
You’ve identified needs, but there are likely other features that can help you achieve your goals you’re unaware of. Have an idea of what you hope to achieve, and brainstorm with a service provider about additional options.
Ask an expert to discuss challenges, opportunities, and recommended technology, as well as how it fits into your overall business plan. Knowing the capabilities that are possible is empowering for business solutions with impact, and experts can help fill in the gaps on delivering the right communications technology solutions to drive and grow your business.
How did you know it was time to improve your business’ communications technology? Let us know in the comment section below.