Know-how  | Topic: [Hosted Voice]
   

How To Choose The Best VoIP Provider

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VoIP providers range from one man bands to giant conglomerates. There’s a lot out there. But, when it comes to selecting a VoIP solution, there are several considerations that you must factor in. In order to make sure you select the best VoIP solution for your business, check out our guide below.

Defining Your Needs

VoIP comes in several offerings. Before you choose the right VoIP service provider for your business, you must first understand what your exact needs are. With the in-house IT requirements taken care of, the rest of the business needs to be represented. Following requirements gathering sessions with your staff, you should be able to identify the type of VoIP system you require. There are:

SMB basic VoIP: The SMB space is catered for with VoIP offerings that aid businesses transition from analogue and ISDN to VoIP services. This is an ideal scenario as telephony experience is crucial. If you’ve categorised your needs as ISDN to VoIP, this type of provider is for you.

VoIP for large business: Large vendors have the resource to specialise in larger deployments. In larger organisations, often the first step is getting voice traffic over the internet. From here, customers tend to branch out and explore the possibilities of hosted voice. If the conversations you are having with business stakeholders is around business and digital transformation, more likely to need to opt for an enterprise specialist.

Unified Communications: VoIP enables so much more than calling. The next step up from VoIP is Unified Communications. Unified Communications provides countless productivity gains through telephony and non-telephony features. If your discussions revolve around non-telephony features, your focus should narrow to a Unified Comms provider, rather than just VoIP.

Contact Centre specialists: Unified Communications is often viewed as the backbone for any contact centre implementation. As a micro-service of Unified Communications, it’s natural for some providers to offer contact centre services via the same platform.

If you operate a contact centre or could benefit from contact centre services such as wallboards and call recording, check whether your VoIP provider offers VoIP and contact centre services via the same platform. Ensuring the same platform takes care of cross platform charges and generally offers a higher rate of availability.

Choosing A VoIP Provider

Once you’ve narrowed down providers, take stock of your shortlist.

Even with a procurement team at your disposal, referrals from colleagues and clients, finding the right VoIP provider remains a considerable task.

Below are four critical tasks to walk through before selecting a new VoIP provider. You should  quiz your prospective providers when walking through these processes,  to gain as much information before making your decision.

Requirements Gathering

Requirements gathering is often a time consuming process. Often, requirements are captured without the end solution in mind. This means stakeholders request impossible features or underestimate the capability of the solution under consideration.

Utilise the resource of your shortlisted providers to best capture requirements. Knowing the ins and out of the platform, using experience from previous customer deployments and getting to know your business are all positives that you should leverage when planning a move to VoIP.

Pilot and Testing

Depending on your requirements, usability could be as short or long a test as you need it to be. If you just need the ability to make calls over the internet, a proof of concept for your network is probably all that is required.

If you have decided that you have complex collaboration requirements, you’ll likely need to set up a user group for acceptance testing of the various products and features associated with the shortlisted VoIP systems. Either way, a pilot phase is always recommended. Make sure you plan strict user acceptance testing (UAT) for all components that are deemed mission critical for implementation. Use this period as the chance to get everything correct, ready for go live.

Within user acceptance testing, make sure you include a variety of stakeholders, as well as a mix of technical and non-technical functions. The best VoIP providers will give you access to previous testing documents for you to use as a basis. From here, you can add niche items for your business, like MiFID II call recording, if you’re in the finance sector.

Finance

Reviewing financial status is important when looking for a VoIP provider. However, whilst this is a key requirement for everybody, the VoIP market is all about the number of subscribers. Review the number of users, customers and revenue as well as net worth.

It’s more important to discover which VoIP provider matches your own business. If you have less than 50 employees, you can’t expect a dedicated approach from giant telecoms corporations. There are vendors specialising in VoIP systems for small and medium businesses which will be a better fit. It is also worth noting current customer bases to ensure your VoIP provider can relate to your industry.

Leverage Existing Investments

When creating a business case for a new phone system of any type, you need to audit your existing estate. This will aid you in finding vendors that can re-use existing equipment, like handsets. If cost is top of your agenda, check for use of your current handsets either native or via an analogue adapter.

If you already have a cloud conferencing service, this could be compatible, or act as an overlay to your VoIP solution. Devices such as conference phones and fax machines can often be retained.

Moving to the cloud doesn’t mean everything must disappear. Make sure you discuss with your prospective providers to find out exactly what can be retained in the new VoIP environment.

Make The Best Decision To Suit Your Business

It’s impossible to become a VoIP specialist overnight. SAS  employ a great team of VoIP specialists to make your life easier. With multiple VoIP solutions, a wide variety of customers and a trusted team of VoIP, Unified Communications and contact centre specialists, let us do the hard work. To book a call with one of our solution specialists or to find out more about onboarding SAS as your VoIP provider, contact us here.

 

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.

Useful Resources

Complete guide to hosted voice  <https://www.sas.co.uk/learning/complete-guide-to-hosted-voice>

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 Editor's notes: Published on January 7 2019

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