When looking to change your phone system, there are a number of factors you need to consider, starting with your current working environment. This will have changed radically for many people since March 2020, although most businesses will still have some form of headquarters or office space even if they have remote working staff.
In the office, the core requirements that you need to assess are your local area network and internet connection to see if they have the capacity to support telephone calls. It will be important to prioritise voice over non real-time traffic on your network to ensure the quality of your calls. You will need to know if your network switches can provide power for handsets and with an ever-growing need for more and more internet connectivity, you will need to ascertain if there is enough spare capacity to use existing connections for voice.
Don’t worry if you do not know all these details about your network and internet connection, a supplier like swcomms can carry out a network assessment for you.
You will also need to consider how many analogue devices you use, such as lift and door phones, door release and gate entry systems.
Mobility on site is key too. How many members of staff need to be contactable as they move around the office, warehouse, factory, etc. and can your Wi-Fi be used to support their needs?
In addition, do you have staff working from home who would benefit from being integrated with a new phone system? It might seem easier to continue using company or private mobiles, but this can restrict productivity and communication flow. Aside from the cost, customers may get used to calling your staff on their mobiles, which can fragment the business and make it impossible to pass through calls when required.
Then think about what key features you need from a phone system and how you want calls to flow through your business. Most phone systems have more features than you are ever going to need. They are slightly more limited with a cloud system, but usually the benefits outweigh anything that may be missing or a plug-in app can be used. Call recording, automated attendant, contact centre, CRM integration, etc....get your wish list together!
Also, think about how you communicate with colleagues and customers. Do you need more than a phone system? Do you want to be able to instant message them, share your screen or host a video meeting too? All these are possible with an up-to-date telephony solution.
What devices do your staff need? We have been used to desk handsets, but do staff still need these handsets if they are not at their desks? Headsets are far more COVID-19 friendly and allow users to use the PC or mobiles devices as their phone, which provides the flexibility more users are now looking for. If the thought of working without a desk phone is too much, then there is an even greater choice of handsets these days.
What support service do you require? Once the system is installed and the keys have been handed over, do you want to self-manage? Modern systems are far easier to programme with users able to make their own changes or suppliers like us offer a fully managed service.
Lastly, what about your contract? Most businesses enter into a contract with their telephony provider when they buy a new phone system. This could involve a lease on the hardware and a fixed term on the lines and call charges. There might also be a maintenance contract on the physical hardware. You need to check to see what your current contract term is and your termination notice period to ensure that you allow enough time to select and then implement a new solution.
If you find yourself in contract, but still want to replace your current phone system, you may still be able to replace the system while using the existing lines. For example, solutions like Microsoft Teams allow for ‘direct routing’, which enables a customer to use their existing SIP trunk providers via a certified session border controller (SBC).
This blog may make purchasing a new phone system seem like an arduous task, but it does not have to be! We try to make it as easy as possible for our customers but it is important to explore all the elements of what you need and what you would like to have, with some wriggle room for product development, to keep pace with our ever-changing world. Our consultative approach ensures we uncover all these elements to recommend the right solution for your business. I hope you have found this blog helpful. Please do not hesitate to get in contact with me if you would like my help with choosing your next phone system.