Questions to Ask Before Selecting a Virtual PBX
Voice communications are still an important part of the business landscape, even with the proliferation of text messaging, e-mails and social media. What is changing in this environment is the push away from traditional landline services to incorporate IP voice and VoIP solutions. When a business is ready to make that move, the first step is to identify whether or not they want to invest in the infrastructure to support VoIP onsite or to leverage a hosted or virtual PBX.
This recent Channel Partners Online report highlights the benefits of the virtual PBX, especially as it is increasingly the popular option for businesses of all sizes. According to Infonetics, virtual PBX and unified communications revenues increased by as much as 33 percent in 2011 alone. The Aberdeen Group said that one-third of businesses are currently outsourcing their VoIP systems and another 35 percent plan to do so within the next two years.
Companies considering this move need to keep in mind that while a virtual PBX and other hosted solutions may be the hot topic right now, it doesn’t automatically mean it is the right solution for every business. Each individual organization must completely assess its own needs to determine the right fit. Only after this step is complete can the organization complete its due diligence in selecting the right provider.
To complete the first step, there are few questions that the business first must answer to determine if the virtual PBX is the right fit:
Will VoIP work on the network?
In other words, can the network support it and still deliver a quality experience for all users? Companies need to get a feel for the internal infrastructure to determine whether or not the Quality of Service (QoS) desired can be maintained. Vendors powering the virtual PBX can generally also provide the LAN equipment if needed.
Can internal personnel support the on-site application?
When implementing the VoIP solution on-site, a great deal of upkeep is required to monitor it and maintain the expected level of performance. An already short-staffed IT department is not likely to welcome a high-maintenance addition, making the hosted solution that much more attractive.
What are the capex and opex budgets?
It’s critical to understand the boundaries of the budget and how these play into the selected solution. Putting a VoIP solution in-house requires significant upfront investments – cash the company may not have on-hand. The virtual PBX generally requires only usage costs on a monthly basis. Examining the available budget on both ends is a critical step.
Does the current vendor offer the training and support to assist with the project?
This question is critical regardless of the deployment method selected. Efficiency and execution are always enhanced when reliable and knowledgeable sales and support staff are in place. Once these questions have been answered, a company is much more prepared to start the process of evaluating VoIP options, assured that their final decision will be an informed one.
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Edited by Jamie Epstein