A Guide to Choosing the Right Business Phone System

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COVID-19 transformed the way businesses operate–making connected communications critical in today’s world. As many employees work from home, companies are now thinking long-term sustainability solutions, hence, turning to cloud communications. Cloud communications make it possible to have the same connectivity they did in the office. For businesses who haven’t embraced the cloud, now is the perfect time to visit your current communications technology and reconsider deploying unified communications to your company.
Traditional phone systems are limited in the functionality they provide to the users. They require significant capital investment for on-premise equipment before one can start using it. A major takeaway from this unprecedented period is the importance of making our communications mobile and secure. There are multiple options available that can provide users with an easy, collaborative, secure, and customized experience. 

The following is a guide to help you in choosing the right business phone system:

On-premise phone systems

These are supported by a local telephone company and run over copper wires. You may use analog phone lines, PRIs, or VoIP (discussed in the next section). Premise phone systems are located in your office and require analog lines, PRIs, or another type of phone service.
Advantages: There are still some situations where a more traditional system makes the most sense, such as a small business located in a community with spotty internet access. They are also reliable and familiar.

Drawbacks: If there’s a problem with your system, you may have to wait to repair it because of its physical nature. You are limited in the services you can provide to users and your ability to port the employee’s office number to a mobile location.

VoIP phone service

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) uses an Internet connection for voice call transmissions. It can also support various other features, including collaborative tools such as video conferencing and shared workspaces. VoIP phone service incorporates your PBX hardware and desk phones to help you get more life out of your equipment.
Advantages: The features available with this approach bring significant benefits to businesses of all sizes. Additionally, you maintain control and visibility of your system.  
Drawbacks: The initial investment in equipment can take a big piece of your budget. You’ll also need someone on staff to handle managing your phone system. If not, your vendor will do so.

Hosted VoIP

The initial investment required for this approach is minimal. You’ll need to purchase the phones, but the provider houses and maintains the PBX hardware as well as the updates. The ability to scale is an important consideration for this service. You can add or remove lines with a simple call to your provider. Hosted VoIP services offer increased functionality to the organization’s users.
Advantages: Hosted VoIP is ideal for small businesses because it can help the company provide a professional face to the public at all times. Find me/follow me call routing and voicemail to email are services that add value to employees when they aren’t working in the office.
Drawbacks: You will need a reliable internet connection for a hosted VoIP service. If the power goes out and you lose your internet, the phone service will also be unavailable.

Overall, there are a few considerations you should include when determining the right phone system for your organization:
Network infrastructure: If you decide to go with a VoIP solution–whether hosted or on-premise–your communications are entirely reliant on your network. It’s a good idea to test the speed and performance of your network before installing VoIP to determine whether your infrastructure can handle the added data volume.  

Features: Businesses of every size are prioritizing the customer experience because they are aware that customers can easily find a competitor if they need to wait for a response. Think not only about the features you want right now but also those that would help you outpace your competitors in meeting your customers’ needs. 

Cost: While it may seem painful at first to give up full control and visibility of your phone system, a hosted VoIP solution may be your most cost-effective option. By contrast, a premise-based phone system comes with substantial initial capital investment, in addition to your monthly invoicing. Be sure to complete a total cost of ownership analysis when choosing the right business phone system.
Any decision on your communications system will impact everyone at your organization. It is important to complete a thorough review of your requirements and future plans. A cloud approach to communications can offer much more than what we’ve outlined above. If you have additional questions or would like help choosing the right phone system, contact BlackPoint IT Services for a voice assessment

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