One common technology that every business needs is a phone system. While digital systems like email and chat are a great from of business communication, there will always be a need for a phone system. If you are looking for a new system for your business, there are a number of factors you need to take into account before purchasing one.
1. Know the types of systems out there
Phone systems, as with many other types of technology, have evolved and changed drastically. Familiarize yourself with the three main types of phone systems available for small to medium businesses:
- Key systems - These systems are commonly found in many older small businesses as they were designed with basic features like hold, line switching, line management, etc.
- IP PBX - (Private Branch Exchange) is an advance IP phone system networking technology that enables businesses to manage up to hundreds of phone lines and numbers. PBX is usually employed by businesses who need multiple phone lines and the ability to network offices together or allow remote users to connect together with one centralized phone system.
- Cloud Hosted PBX - These are virtual PBX systems that are managed and hosted by a provider. The system itself is usually housed offsite, which means that you don't own the equipment and there's less up-front investment.
Generally speaking, these three types of phone systems are available in two ways:
- Analog - Traditional landline phone systems offered by phone companies, commonly referred to as PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network). Analog is familiar to many business owners as it uses existing lines strung by telephone companies.
- IP / Digital - Newer phone systems that use network connections to transmit voice communication. The most common of these systems is VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol).
While there are three main systems, the increasingly popular adoption of digital systems like VoIP has led to Key and PBX systems essentially merging together into one platform. Some providers however do offer scaled down versions of PBX over network connections that they refer to as Key systems.
2. Consider these four questions
As you are looking for a new phone system? If so, it might be a good idea to ask yourself the following questions:
- How many lines and phones will I need? This will likely be one of the first questions a vendor will ask when you start looking for a new system. Take some time to think how many phone lines you will need. For example, will you need one for every employee? Or will a line for every major office or department be enough? You will quickly find that some teams won't need lines at all, while others will need one for every person. A typical business without a call center can use a 2 to 1 ratio - whereby they share 1 line for 2 people.
- How much do I want to manage this system? If you want to have complete control and want to own the equipment with a lower monthly cost, then going for a hosted solution may not be the best option. On the other hand, if you are looking for a phone system that you can manage yourself, then a cloud hosted system might be the answer.
- How fast will my business grow? If you are expanding quickly, then you will need a system that can expand easily. Many landline systems require technicians to install new lines which can take time, so businesses that are growing quickly may benefit more from VoIP phone lines, also refered to as SIP trunks that can be added easily.
- What other equipment will I be using? This is important to know before you talk to vendors because some systems may not work well with existing technology, or other systems you may be using. If you make a list, vendors can then help you quickly find a system that is compatible with your other equipment.
3. Ask your users what features they need
Before looking for a new phone system, you should ask the people who will be using the system what features they need in order to do their jobs to the best of their ability. Some teams may need wireless devices in order to better talk to customers, while others might find video conferencing worthwhile; others still may need a more unified communications that integrate to a smartphone.
The key here is to develop a list of features that your business will need before looking for a new phone system. This will make it easier to find one that fits your needs.
4. Work with your Technology partner
We can work with you to help you find the best phone system solution for your business; be it cloud, digital, or VoIP. If you are looking for a new phone system for your office, contact us today at 1-877-709-2656 to learn more about our solutions and how we can help your team better communicate and collaborate.