Posted on Wed, Oct 21, 2015 @ 09:15 AM by Carlos Lahrssen
While you might think a phone’s a phone, this is not really the case for small-medium businesses. Certain systems and configurations have benefits that others do not, as well as cons. Determining what kind of phone system your business should have can take a bit more work than you’d imagine up-front; it really depends on what your business needs both now and well into the future.
Analog phone lines are great if your small business will still be small in 12 months’ time, and you do not have the budget for or need a cloud-based phone system. On the other hand, if you expect significant growth in the near future, analog systems will likely not support that fast scaling; cloud-based systems would, in this case, be much more effective.
Before you settle on a phone system for your business, consider these five things:
- How (and if) your staff will primarily use personal devices to speak with customers and each other; how many workers are regularly mobile or communicate in the field?
- Available budget for a business phone system
- What features your business and its staff need out of an office phone system (more features will likely end up costing more up-front, but offer greater return potential)
- What types of phone systems your business can support; do you have enough Internet bandwidth to host a large VoIP network, or are you constrained to a certain number of phone lines?
- Your expected (and desired) growth over the next 1-2 years
Now that you’ve gotten a grasp on your own business and its communication needs, we’ll dive into which phone systems are right for certain kinds of businesses; in doing so, we hope you can learn the most practical and worthwhile system for your organization.
Traditional Analog Phones, Landlines
The Good: Conventional, analog and landline phones systems have their own benefits for small businesses. Namely, your business probably already has an analog phone system in place. They’re time-tested, reliable and cheap ways to handle your business’s communication.
The Bad: Analog phone systems are cheap… until it’s time to scale your business. Organizations with strong growth goals will find analog landlines impractical during expansion. Hooking up new lines, opening new offices and managing a growing analog network becomes expensive and time-consuming during stages of growth. Additionally, analog phone systems are basic systems and little else; they fall short of what today’s phone systems are capable of for a similar cost.
Verdict: If your business currently has an analog phone systems and does not anticipate large-scale growth in the near future, or does not have the resources to allocate to a more modern phone system, analog will serve its purpose. Just be wary of added costs associated with downtime and scaling.
Voice-over IP Phone Systems
The Good: Voice-over IP (VoIP) phone systems are ideal for growth-oriented businesses or those with workers that are frequently mobile or jump from location to location. They make enterprise-level phone features accessible and affordable for SMBs, and allow business owners to scale with ease. All data and voice packets are transmitted over existing Internet connections, so no cable hookups or traditional phone system hardware is required.
The Bad: VoIP phone systems are entirely reliant on your business’s Internet connection. When the Internet goes down, so does your phone system and any other VoIP technology. If you’re looking into VoIP phone systems for your business, make sure your Internet service (bandwidth) can handle your phone lines as needed, both now and in the future to accommodate for growth.
Verdict: If you’ve got the drive to grow your business and the room in your budget for the most advanced phone system out there, VoIP is definitely the way to go. While they cost more up-front than analog phone lines, they’re easily scaleable, require less maintenance and are capable of much more than conventional landlines.
Hybrid Phone Lines
The Good: Hybrid PBX phone lines (think PBX integrated with Cloud technology) help SMBs transition their communications to the Cloud with existing PBX devices in-office. Above any other benefit, these configurations help businesses grow without entirely replacing existing phone systems their teams may be comfortable with and hesitant to remove.
The Bad: As a partial VoIP solution, they’re only capable of a portion of the functionality that complete VoIP phone systems provide. Cloud-based PBX should ease the transition phase between landline phone systems and complete VoIP.
Verdict: A cozy middle ground between VoIP and analog phone systems, hybrid phone systems offer basic VoIP capabilities on a budget. They fall short on advanced features and do not benefit businesses as much as complete VoIP systems typically do, but they can ease the transitional phase from outdated, analog phone systems to cloud-based solutions.