5 Tips to Getting the Perfect VoIP Phone System

Posted by on August 29, 2012 in Business Start Up Advice, VoIP [ 2 Comments ]

voip phone systemDid you know that small businesses are the primary drivers of the enormous growth in VoIP adoption in the United States? VoIP providers posted an impressive total revenue in 2010 of $2 billion, and mobile VoIP alone is expected to be a $4 billion a year sector by 2015.

It’s no mystery why businesses of every size are migrating to VoIP phone systems. They are flexible, rich in features and very cost-effective. If you are considering a VoIP system for your business, follow these tips to help ensure you get a system that is tailor made for your business needs.

1. Ask employees (or a representative from each department) what features they want in the new phone system. You can’t promise every employee every feature they want, but you can get an idea of what features are most important to those who will be using the system daily. Perhaps your IT department wants automated messaging that will allow them to efficiently share important information with all employees. Perhaps certain departments need call encryption to improve security when they must discuss sensitive information. Learn about actual employee needs before choosing your provider.

2. Calculate total cost of ownership before committing to a provider. VoIP systems are naturally assumed to save businesses money — that is the main reason they have caught on so quickly. But you need to figure out your total costs and avoid choosing a system solely based on price. Systems that are more easily scalable and that are most reliable tend to cost more initially. However, these up-front expenses may be recouped through long-term savings. Make sure any system you choose will be able to grow along with your business and that you will be able to add new features as they become available.

3. Determine whether the system will be rolled-out and maintained by in-house IT services, or whether these functions will be outsourced. Many small businesses don’t have an IT department that would be capable of installing and maintaining a VoIP system. These businesses should look for a hosted VoIP system where all that is taken care of “in the cloud.” On the other hand, businesses with a strong IT department may find it more cost effective to do the installation and maintenance in-house. This is particularly true if the system must be specialized due to industry-specific needs.

4. Evaluate the importance of VoIP integration with current systems, such as your CRM or ERP platform. Some of today’s VoIP systems are capable of integrating with existing enterprise resource planning (ERP) software or customer relationship management (CRM) systems. If this is a priority for you, look for VoIP providers that offer application programming interfaces that allow this type of integration. Find out how it is done and how successful the provider has been integrating with other customers’ existing business systems. If possible, speak with companies that have already worked with VoIP providers you are considering.

5. Make sure you can get the add-ons that maximize your VoIP system’s usefulness. Thinking ahead can really pay off when it comes to VoIP providers. With more businesses evolving toward a “bring your own device” policy, you want a VoIP provider that has great add-ons — like video conferencing and voice recognition — that take advantage of smart phone capabilities. Being able to add new users (who may use their own smart phones) quickly and easily, and having access to extras that can make a real difference for workers who work off-site is important if you want your VoIP system to continue to fit your needs over time.

The tidal wave of VoIP adoption shows no sign of abating any time soon. The cost savings are significant, and today’s businesses need the flexibility and scalability that is inherent in the best VoIP systems. By giving thought and consideration to your choices among VoIP providers, you can choose the system that gives you the best balance of cost savings, reliability, and features needed to keep your business thriving.

Image Credit: Cubosh

2 thoughts on “5 Tips to Getting the Perfect VoIP Phone System

  1. avatarLaurie Adams

    Great article! A couple of extra tips – if an on-premise solution is preferred because of the feature set, consider systems that will support both VoIP and digital phones if Cat 3 cabling is in place, and that will save on upfront structured cabling installation expense.

    For hosted VoIP or SIP trunks integrated for an on-premise phone system, make sure that the provider will perform testing prior to ordering service, to ensure QoS (Quality of Service) – ask about term commitments and satisfaction guarantees too. Businesses depend on quality in telephone communications and have come to take it for granted. No sense deploying a VoIP solution unless it’s solid and reliable.

  2. avatarJessica Sanders

    Thanks so much for adding that info! When it comes to these technical aspects of business, some small businesses owners can get overwhelmed. Having all this information is so important. Thanks again!

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