Any business considering a hosted VoIP
solution should create a list of questions that need answering—both regarding whether hosted VoIP is the right type of solution and, if yes, what the specific requirements are.
But what to include on this shortlist of questions to answer? That can be a tricky decision, since many variables might seem important. However, the decision-making process can really be distilled down to the following seven questions.
Will this hosted VoIP solution help my business?
This really is the fundamental question you should answer before even looking at different hosted VoIP solutions. If your existing phone system is adequate, an upgrade may not be needed at all. If you answer “yes” generally, though, the question needs to be re-asked for each potential solution. You’ll want to consider how the solution will make your business more efficient and how it will save money in the long run.
What are the cost savings and added features associated with this particular hosted VoIP solution?
Having a good understanding of each solution’s feature set and cost benefits is smart. Creating a shortlist of possible solutions should start with this basic fact-finding task.
Does this hosted VoIP solution offer sufficient voice quality?
VoIP may have the potential to save your company money, but making the switch will backfire if the solution doesn’t offer high enough voice quality. After all, this is fundamentally about having a reliable and affordable voice service for phone calls.
What phone system features does my business need?
Many hosted VoIP solutions offer a plethora of different features, some of which may be irrelevant to the way you do business. It doesn’t make sense to pay more for a bigger feature set if you won’t be using the extra features.
How sophisticated are my company’s IT resources?
Most hosted VoIP solutions are pretty easy to install and manage, but they do vary. Since VoIP essentially moves telephony into the IT department, you should ask yourself if you have the technical resources to manage each solution you’re considering. Some may require more expertise and time than is realistic for your company.
What equipment do I need to buy to install this hosted VoIP solution?
On-premise equipment is usually kept to a minimum with hosted VoIP solutions (by their very nature, these are managed services with most equipment located at the vendor’s site). But you may need to buy special equipment, or special phones, to use the solution. Consider this factor carefully.
What type of business continuity/redundancy features does this hosted VoIP solution offer?
What happens if the primary hosted VoIP system goes down? Does the vendor provide backup in the form of redundant systems? Having a backup plan when things go wrong is smart business.
For more considerations involved in picking a new phone system for your business, please visit the Hosted VoIP channel on TMCnet.com, brought to you by Junction Networks (News - Alert).
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Mae Kowalke is an associate editor for TMCnet, covering VoIP, CRM, call center and wireless technologies. To read more of Mae’s articles, please visit her columnist page. She also blogs for TMCnet here.