There are a few common quotes from day to day life that ring true with hosted telephony. None more so than “failing to prepare is preparing to fail”. It’s your reputation on the line so you want to get it right.
Getting it right consists of some key considerations that you don’t come across in the traditional IT realm. Installing a phone system no longer requires days on-site with metres of cabling being run. It does, however, include capturing everybody’s niche requirements.
With any project that we undertake, we utilise experienced project managers who always share learnings and tips when deploying hosted telephony too. Let’s look at the key requirements to look out for when moving to hosted telephony.
Every user in your business is different. In a perfect world, each user would have a session where their individual requirements are captured. In larger businesses, or businesses without the resource to facilitate this, developing user personas are a great substitute.
User personas can be segmented on a per departmental basis or by type of worker. Often, people in the same department will require the same tools to complete their job. This makes capturing requirements simple. Say you have a finance, sales, support and technical team. Here you need to nominate a few people from each department to devise a template for how they work and the communication tools they use day to day.
If people in the same department work differently, it’s important to capture those differences. For example, sales staff could be field based therefore have more mobility requirements. This could be anything from need to take their calls in the car to joining a virtual meeting from a customer’s site.
When identifying stakeholders, it’s important to include both outspoken users and those that won’t offer a hand in front of a crowd. To create a realistic view of the department, and make the user persona exercise worthwhile, a diverse group must be included.
Soft Phone or Hard Phone
Choosing a soft phone over a hard phone is important for two main reasons. The first is cost. If users that have desk phones today don’t necessarily need one, you can look at providing them with soft phones. Installed onto a mobile, tablet or desktop, the license for a soft phone is cheaper in the long run. With no up-front charges for a wasted desk phone, both personal preference and cost is satisfied in one hit.
If a user justifies a desk phone, you have some options here too. Just like when developing your user personas, you can split the desk phone users into groups. We’ve outlined some common scenarios below.
When a user is utilising call centre functionality, or any on screen software, the desk phone requirements are simple. The sole purpose is to facilitate the call. Any transferring or intelligence is provided by the software. A basic, entry level, black and white display handset is required here.
An office-based user usually doesn’t need call centre functionality. However, they still need to manage their calls. Transferring, diverting and using a personal directory are highly used in the knowledge workers day. A standard colour handset is best suited for this type of work. With a user interface like a smart phone, and all the functionality required to carry out day to day communications, this is a great fit.
Receptionists are heavy users of the phone. Here, we typically see a larger colour handset. Larger to display more information and to make room for more options for call treatment. Alongside the initial handset, we often see an extension module. This is designed to host commonly transferred extensions. When a receptionist is taking multiple calls in quick session, the need to transfer quickly and correctly is pivotal.
Conferencing and Meetings
Hosted telephony provides more than just ad hoc calling. Scheduled conference calls and virtual meetings have firmly established their place in businesses and provide huge productivity gains.
When looking at your requirements for telephony, take stock of what you already use for scheduled calls. It might be the case that you’re using a pay-as-you-go conference call solution. These are typically more expensive than an option included in your telephony package.
Businesses are frequently stung with paying for minutes because they don’t have an on-net solution. Rather than pay for your internal users to dial into a pricy conference bridge, you could be communicating over an internet-based conference solution.
On top of the cost benefit, here we see the introduction of features such as video calling and screen sharing. These turn a standard conference call into an effective collaboration effort.
It’s no secret that travelling to and from meetings is a time consuming, non-revenue earning segment of a business day. You could quite easily replace some of these in-person meetings with video conferences.
Whilst virtual meetings will never replace the face to face experience, turning on video and content sharing options eliminates the need for travel to follow up meetings that don’t require the in-person experience. Make sure you capture your meeting requirements by mapping a typical week and see how much time you could save.
From joining a video conference via your laptop to hosting a multi-party meeting across different locations, hosted telephony enables all types a video conferencing.
With devices like the Polycom Trio, you can invite meeting rooms to a meeting via Office 365. When the first participant reaches the meeting room, they click the join button on the Polycom Trio and seamlessly start a meeting.
Big Bang or Phased Migration
A large consideration is almost always how to migrate your users over from your current PBX. Customers like to experience a select group of users on the new system first. A proof of concept or trial group can be setup prior to migration. This is the perfect way test the water and iron out any issues or technicalities.
Once ready to go live and move existing numbers and users over, there are two options. Big bang or phased. They do come with pre-requisites which must be considered when planning.
How your current ISDN circuits were provisioned will determine if you can move your users over in staggered manner. Sometimes, the architecture restricts migration to big bang only. If communications are clear that a new phone system is being introduced, migrations occur seamlessly, and users start using the new system with minimal disruption.
Where the choice of phased or big bang is applicable, some businesses have specialist units that must not be impacted during certain times of the day. Here, it is important to plan with your service provider how best to achieve this.
This is usually the ultimate requirement when it comes to hosted telephony installations. Unless you’ve kept an updated audit each time you’ve made a change to your telephony estate, it’s hard to figure out exactly what your options are. We deal with complex requirements and lost architecture on a day to day basis. To leverage our experience and for help planning your hosted telephony installation, book a call with our team today. We look forward to exploring your options and planning the next phase of your deployment.
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If you would like to find out more, then you may like to read one of our other blogs or downloads, or request a conversation with one of our consultants. We are always happy to discuss, without obligation.