The choices available for new business phone systems have grown tremendously. There is a great deal of buzz about cloud communications, VoIP and hosted PBX, but also an equal amount of confusion. A little bit of due diligence can provide significant benefits when choosing a communications solution, no matter the size of your organization.
Simply put, cloud PBX replaces the big phone exchange box in a back room with software accessed through a standard high-speed internet connection. That said, one size does not fit all when it comes to cloud-based business phone solutions. Here are six questions to consider before investing in a new business phone system.
What is the Size of Your Business?
List the needs of your business phone system. Beyond just the number of phones required, include features that you need – auto attendant, messaging, conferencing, etc. – and be sure to include any features you might need in the future. A good cloud-based system will allow you to grow your communications solution right along with your business.
Is the Provider’s Infrastructure Robust?
A cloud-based business phone provider is more than just a vendor to your business, they are your partner. Know who you’re going into business with by asking about their history and financial stability, their data centers and security, and the level of turnover they have in their customer base. Another important factor is their technical support, both in terms of quality and availability.
Flexibility – What 3rd Party App Integrations are Available?
No single provider has it all in today’s rapid pace of technology development. Does the provider’s solution have the flexibility to integrate new applications and features from other vendors such as CRM and project management software, Microsoft Outlook and other email clients, comprehensive backup solutions?
Does the Solution Include Contact Center Capabilities?
No longer the exclusive domain of enterprises, even small businesses have the ability to obtain a contact center solution. A cloud-based contact center allows customers to reach out to your business in their preferred medium – phone, email, instant messaging, or even real-time video support – all at a fraction of the cost of a traditional system. While you might not need one today, a sudden spike in growth could see the need materialize tomorrow with little warning.
What Features/Apps are Standard?
Voice, mobility, messaging, presence, conferencing & collaboration. With a cloud-based solution, features like auto attendant, call forwarding, call waiting, music on hold, and call transfer provide a solid base for any business phone system.
Is There a Hybrid Option?
If your business already has an existing phone system but needs to add new, advanced features, a cloud-based communications provider can frequently architect a hybrid solution for your business. A hybrid model seamlessly integrates a traditional system with new cloud-based features, including a cloud PBX. A hybrid solution can provide a cost-effective path to a complete cloud migration sometime in the future.
Cloud opens the door of advanced business phone features to virtually everyone, leveling the playing field like never before, from mom and pop shops to the next (think Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak working out of the garage) generation of entrepreneurs. It’s up to you to break through the noise and choose the right solution for your business.
Visit TechTarget.com for an overview comparing top unified communications cloud products and providers.
Download our free white paper – Premises Vs. Cloud-based Telephony – for information on projecting an accurate Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) for a new business communications solution.