Identifying a new phone system for your business can often be an overwhelming task given the plethora of options we have in the market today. Over the last few years, VoIP phone systems have gained traction with nearly 31% of businesses in the US alone using VoIP. Since its arrival in 1995, VoIP technology has evolved over the years and today there are a multitude of VoIP solutions available with the IP PBX system being a popular choice among SMB’s.
Taking into consideration the current business landscape, and internet penetration more and more businesses are making a shift to an IP PBX phone system. If you too have decided to move to an IP PBX system for your business communication needs, then you have probably already done your research well and are fully aware of its benefits and drawbacks. But is that really enough? Certainly not!
Identifying a system that is the best fit for your business is the key to optimally utilizing an IP PBX system to your advantage. For a small business, call center features such as ACD queues may not be that important but the same does not hold true for a large enterprise. However, regardless of your business size and requirements, there are a few things you must ensure when choosing a business IP PBX phone system.
Making an informed choice
Identifying your unique business needs: Every business is unique with a unique set of requirements. Identifying and creating a roadmap for your current and future business telephony needs is the first step. Assessing the following areas can help you decide on what to look for in a phone system.
- Number of phone lines and extensions required for the current team
Take into account phones and any other devices (fax machines, modems, credit card terminals, etc.) that have to be connected to the system. If you have multiple offices/branches spread across different locations, mobile workers, any remote staff/team that needs to be accounted for too.
- Future expansion plans
If you have business expansion plans in the near future, account for the number of new employees or new office locations you plan to add in the next one year. This will help determine whether or not you need to scale your phone system over time and ensure you invest in a system that need not be replaced as the company expands.
- Must have features and options for your business
Today there are a multitude of IP-PBX system providers with various plans including unique features configurations. Understand the utility and relevance of each feature for your business to choose a plan most appropriate for you. However, ensure you subscribe for the below standard feature set and add on as per your needs:
- Call forwarding
- Caller id
- One-touch dialing
- On-hold music
- Fax support and fax to email
- Follow me
- System diagnostics tools
- Vendor or external support dependency
Do you have an in-house IT team to resolve any issues or maintain IP-PBX systems should you choose to have an on-premise IP PBX system. There are systems that come with a user-friendly interface and enable users to do customization. Advanced, complex, and proprietary IP PBX systems require support from vendors.
Now that you have identified your business needs, take into consideration the following when choosing an IP PBX system.
- On-Premise IP PBX or Hosted IP PBX
An IP PBX phone system can be on-premises or hosted by a provider. Hosted systems have minimal installation costs as it does not require installing servers or any other hardware on-premises. Any additional features or extensions, add up in the monthly billing. The system is reliable and eliminates the hassle of maintenance and upgrades from your plate as the service provider takes care of it. An on-premise system involves high one-time server and hardware costs but is a cost-effective option in the long run. However, a business has complete control over its phone system in an on-premise IP PBX. Choose an IP PBX system compatible with your existing systems and hardware.
- SIP-based system
A SIP-based system supports services like click-to-call on Web pages, instant messaging, and multimedia conferencing. These features significantly enhance employee productivity and reduce telecommunications expenses.
- Versatile and Scalable
A versatile phone system that supports a variety of endpoints (digital, analog, and IP) enables the use of existing phones instead of requiring an immediate upgrade of current equipment. It is equally important to determine that your IP PBX system supports office change, mobile and remote workers can easily add or remove lines based on the team size. In short, your phone system should adapt to the needs of your business as it evolves.
- Call Volume Handling Capacity
A system that fails to support the volume of incoming and outgoing calls is a futile investment. Choose a system that has the capability to handle your business’s call volume and scale up when required.
- Choose the Right Vendor
Once you have determined your immediate and future business, choosing a vendor who can provide the best system at a cost-effective price is important. Some IP PBX phone systems may require professional installation and some basic training for your employees. In such a case, you must ensure that the vendor provides the required training and after-sales support. Get a clear understanding of how system updates if any will be managed (remotely or on site).
The VoIP market is expected to grow to $55 billion by 2025 and for a good reason. VoIP systems are not only cost-effective, but they also meet all the internal and external communication needs of a business in an effective way.