Most IT departments have the perception that their unified communications (UC) solution is the sun in their solar system, around which all other things must orbit. This may be true in some situations, but more frequently the conversation should revolve around the phone equipment instead.
Planning unified communications strategy cannot be done successfully without considering how the phones will play into the system. Here are a few considerations before beginning unified communications planning efforts.
Typically small to medium businesses (SMBs) have either an older phone system that was connected to regular telephone company lines, or a set of IP phones. In what condition are those phones? Do they still look and function well or are they in dire need of replacement?
For older equipment that was used on traditional dial tone lines, chances are very good that they’ll need replacing. If nothing else, the simple fact that Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone systems are much more cost effective and powerful than legacy options may sway decision makers. This is especially true where UC is concerned, since the two technologies integrate so well together.
Shifting from a legacy system to VoIP and unified communications at once is the best approach since the implementation can be done more efficiently this way. New equipment can be connected to the unified communications suite of tools and provide the company with some great features. Making this type of change does require some network refactoring, and should be discussed at length with the unified communications/phone system vendors to ensure that adequate bandwidth and infrastructure are available.
If the existing equipment is still functioning well, there may be no need to replace it. One of the advantages that can be attributed to the growth of unified communications is that a fitting solution for just about any type of VoIP equipment is on the market. The organization could eliminate the need for new equipment expense and still enjoy new call handling and communications tools.
The Vision for Deployment
There are many factors to consider when making decisions around UC and phone system deployment. Companies may opt to go with an on-site model or choose to have their VoIP phone system or unified communications implementation be cloud-based. Many existing VoIP systems already live in the cloud so there would be no major change for these customers.
On-premise models may be more difficult to manage for a company’s IT group, especially when the complexity of a unified communications suite is added to the puzzle. Since such flexible options are available, it’s important not the let the comfort of the IT department dictate the arrangement for unified communications and the phones.
Often, the same vendor can provide both telephony and unified communications. This makes the implementation and maintenance much more efficient and pain-free. These providers may also offer a hybrid option, where part of the solution lives on-premise and the rest exists in the cloud.
Unified communications deployments rely heavily on the state of the phone system. The company’s IT department must be firmly engaged in the planning of the proposed system and understand any dependencies on the current infrastructure to make execution a success. For more information on deploying unified communications partnered with a quality phone system, contact Copper State Communications today.