For many small and midsize businesses, the shift to a cloud VoIP phone system is yet to come. Even though it makes sense budgets and communications resources are limited. And the upsides are substantial:
- Employees are always connected, regardless of their location—perfect for today’s work-anywhere office cultures.
- They have access to the latest features in mobile communications.
An analysis of total cost of ownership is likely to favor VoIP as well.
In particular, cloud options put VoIP in the operating expense column rather than the capital expense column. There’s no large cost upfront and, as with anything in the cloud, it’s all scalable—down as well as up.
If you weren’t already considering the move, it’s worth doing the numbers on a hosted solution. Cost savings are estimated at up to 75% depending on what it’s costing you now to maintain your equipment.
Is VoIP for you?
Can your network support a new phone system?
VoIP transmits calls over the Internet, so it needs a good connection. The more simultaneous users you have, the more bandwidth you’ll need. If your network can support it, then a Cloud VoIP phone system may be a good option.
Is your workforce mobile or remote?
If your employees take a lot of their calls on mobile devices in the office or on the road, VoIP might be a good bet for your business. Your customers and colleagues will be able to reach you seamlessly.
Will VoIP integrate with your other cloud apps?
If you’re moving calls to the Internet, they might as well integrate with your other cloud apps, like Microsoft Office 365. Some Cloud VoIP phone systems will pull in data from relevant apps to bring them up during your calls. Integration with applications such as CRM can also dramatically increase productivity.
The biggest reasons to consider hosted VoIP
Market research firm IHS found that cost wasn’t what drove most businesses to VoIP, however. The biggest reasons for the switch were the enhanced capabilities and features that a cloud VoIP phone system offers.
That might not once have been enough for small and medium businesses because of the cost of implementation. Hosted solutions now put those costs onto the provider, not the customer (although the customer still needs adequate network capacity and to provide physical phones or software equivalents).
What to look for in a provider
If the numbers add up for you, it’s time to look for a provider. You need to evaluate:
- Service guarantees
- The ability to support the deployment type you need
- Ongoing support
Be sure to ask:
- Who is managing the bandwidth connection
- Does the provider do pre-network qualifications to make sure your existing network will support the shift?
You don’t want to become a VoIP expert. That’s why you’re going with a cloud solution. You want to be able to describe how your business works and what you’re trying to achieve. The provider should be able to match those requirements to technology. Then the productivity benefits are all yours.