Bricks, mortar, classrooms, maintenance, labs, gyms, storage, offices – colleges and universities are infrastructure labyrinths. When a Director of Campus IT is told the phone system needs replacement, where do they start?
UNIVERGE BLUE was fortunate to be brought into the analysis and due diligence process early, providing counsel and information throughout the process. This gave us a unique insight into the challenges and issues facing higher education. The criteria facing the university was similar to that facing many small and medium-sized businesses in a multitude of industries.
Phone System Due Diligence
The initial questions should be about calls in general: how many extensions, who uses them, are the calls for individual extensions typically within the campus system or outside callers? The more questions that can be answered before looking at solutions, the smoother the discovery process proceeds.
- Can callers leave messages?
- How many people answer a single extension?
- Should callers be connected to an automated attendant?
- Should callers be queued for the next available person to take their call?
- How will billing be handled: campus-wide or by department/facility?
- How do departments handle long distance or international calling?
If possible, each department should create a flow chart of how calls are handled. What does typical call flow look like? Should there be a uniform experience for all outside callers?
The answers to these questions quickly inform one of the major decisions: is there a need for a unified communications solution – integrated voice, messaging, conferencing, mobility, presence, and even a contact center?
Regulations compliance requires a robust E911 component to any phone system, particularly in education. Seemingly simple questions become complex in today’s rapid pace of technological change. At a minimum, any emergency call should include the street address from which the call is originating. But is that enough?
On a college campus, or an industrial campus, E911 functionality is greatly increased by detailed information – specific building names and room numbers. Establishing a clear process, not just who manages the database of this information, but how are emergency calls logged, how police are connected to the system, what happens if someone is disconnected or dispatchers can’t hear anyone on the call?
Include a plan for handling calls during network and power outages or in the event of a disaster. Don’t count on luck, preparing a communications system and staff training for an emergency or disaster pays enormous dividends.
TCO – Total Cost of Ownership
When examining the TCO of a new system, look beyond the initial savings benefit of a hosted cloud solution and consider all the elements involved over a five year period for both traditional and cloud systems. Factor in maintenance, set-up, support, housing system hardware and powering it, software licensing, bandwidth or on-premise PBX lease payments, third party systems integration, insurance, system upgrades and staff training.
One strength of a hosted cloud PBX solution that kept reoccurring throughout the analysis was the simple predictability of the cost for each month, quarter and year.
Hybrid or Cloud?
Ultimately, our customer’s decision boiled down to four key points:
- Eliminating major upfront cost
- Moving from a capital expense – CAPEX – to an operating expense – OPEX – financial model
- Reducing the staffing requirements to maintain a complex phone system
- Provider support, disaster recovery and business continuity
While the multi-year migration path begins with a hybrid system, taking advantage of the existing infrastructure investment while adding new cloud functionality, our customer’s destination is a complete cloud PBX phone solution – secure, reliable, flexible, and ready to scale to meet the challenges of tomorrow.
Download a summary infographic for Higher Education – 5 Reasons to Move to Cloud Communications.