Are you planning to join the league of cloud communication solution users? Or are you confused about which service provider to go for? We have collected a list of key purchase considerations to help you make an informed decision. Different providers will vary in terms of functionalities, resilience, management requirements, integration and scalability options, quality and mobility.
Before you decide which service provider is suitable for you, keep the following in focus:
- Know what you need
Is your business located in multiple sites? Does your workforce reside in multiple time zones or physical locations? Does your business require a close linked supply chain? Or do you need to collaborate often with third party suppliers? These are key consideration in determining what communication solution will suit you.
Compared to single site business, a multi location business and geographically dispersed workforce will require a more sophisticated collaboration tool kit. Businesses that deal with external parties like suppliers and customers may need extensive call centre solutions. Businesses into hospitality sector will need hotel specific phone systems.
So a prime consideration should be: will you be able to extend collaboration tools to your suppliers and external parties? Because if you are unable to align suppliers, partners and customers into your communication network, you will not achieve desired results of Unified communications investment.
- Determine your voice functionality requirements:
Too often in quest of new and improved features, we lose the existing ones. Your users might be used to a certain set of functionalities. If the new and improved communication system does not incorporate these features, your users might no accept the change in a positive manner. And the new investment will not yield any significant ROI.
Solution: Audit your current phone system. What it serves and what it does not serve? Consider if the new system will carry forward all the positive aspects of the old phone system? Shifting to a new phone system is not for the sake of a trend. It should be focused more on objectives that can be quantified and evaluated against a said benchmark.
For example most cloud communications providers will not support some traditional features like hunt grouping and call screening. If your business relies heavily on these, your choice of Unified Communication Providers will be limited to only those who offer these features.
- Buy what you can manage
Unmanaged investment is wastage of time and money. Before you consider what type of third party service provider you will choose, consider the level of management required. Some businesses are happy to handle most issues in-house. Others prefer outsourcing. Not all providers offer a fully managed solution.
Some managers are comfortable dealing with multiple providers for different elements. Others might prefer an all-in-One solution. Those opting for the later may forgo some features in favour of one stop solution. But for some managers, it is vital to have all features. These will opt for multiple providers to attain full set of required features.
At the end of the day, it depends on the feature set required, manager preferences and your IT skill levels. Some businesses have sufficiently experienced in house IT team that has time and skills to manage complex issues. Those which do not have the luxury, simply opt for fully integrated single supplier solution.
- Do you want to target seamless integration:
As of existing business setup, you might be using a CRM or an ERP system. What communication solutions you opt for should depend on whether your existing CRM and ERP is fully integrated into them or not. There might be some other commonly used business applications that you will need to integrate into your new communication solutions.
Some communication providers offer default integrations with popular CRM, ERP and business applications. Others will offer their clients open APIs to manage customised integrations. Your in house skills and competencies will determine how far you can take advantage of such customised integrations.
Lastly, you also need to consider how far your existing phone system integrates with the new solution. You might be restricted to a contract for the existing system. Or you could have decided not to implement the new solution at once at all sites for caution. Bottom line is that will your chosen solution support such hybrid model?
- What level of mobility you need
For what factors you are moving away from your traditional PBX solutions? How important is mobility for you and your employees? Many clouds communication providers offer an application based user centric experience. They allow users to access cloud features from their personal devices under a hassle free BYOD.
Advanced functionalities include a seamless switch between wired and mobile devices. They offer equal features across multiple devices. Good communication providers will let you carry your office in your phone! You can even have a single number across fixed and mobile devices. Use your phone simultaneously on two numbers; business number for office use.
It remains up to you to decide which features you want to offer your employees while mobile. Some businesses restrict some features to office locations only and do not want them availed off premises. All considerations will greatly affect the choice of cloud communication providers.
- How much scalability and flexibility you require?
When you are choosing a business phone system for yourself, do not forget to consider the scalability and flexibility limitations of each available option. Some providers offer hassle free scaling up or down as per your business requirements. They might not require additional investments.
Others might not offer such a convenience. They might be restrictive due to limitations of technology or pricing policies. It might be expensive to add on server capacity in business solutions such as call recording services. Before you choose, understand the level of scalability available to you in future .
Does your business follow a seasonal demand pattern? Or Are you continuously growing? Do not make mistake of choosing a provider that does not allow cost free adding or removing of users from the network. In order to survive the competitive world, you must prepare well for the expected and unexpected.
- How much resilience and quality your service providers offer?
Your business continuity depends on disaster support and data security. Cloud proponents argue that it offers off premises disaster support and a continuous resilience plan. But how much? Different providers offer varying levels of disaster support management and data security and recovery.
Take time to understand what measures will the service provider take in case of a disaster. Will your customer calls be redirected to your mobiles in case of floods and fire or a network failure. How far will you be able to continue business processes in case of any eventuality. All these are critical decision factors.
Is your business capable of facing occasional drop in service quality as your communications are mostly internal? Or no, you need constant service quality levels for managing external communications. And last but not the least, is your company network stable enough to take on load of VoIP services and cloud communications?
We hope this helps you chose a best suitable partner for your communication solutions. These factors determine the effectiveness of the solutions and how far the investment in UC will be profitable for you. You can also review BroadSoft key question checklist for further assistance. Evaluate the pros and cons thoroughly before making a final decision .