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SMB How to: Keeping costs Low during a Unified Communications rollout

 

SMB's face unique challenges when implementing UC when compared with enterprises, because while there are advantages to being smaller the major hurdle is not cultural like the enterprise, but cost. Cost containment is the number one priority for SMB's adopting UC and VoIP. To keep costs down we've tried to outline a number of critical planning steps that will make sure your SMB gets it right first time, saving you money not just in the near term but over a length of time as you system continues to work for you. In many cases, the UC process comes about from a desire to tap into the cost saving of VoIP and therefore changing from a legacy PBX (a standard telephone system) to an IP PBX.

This guide therefore is intended to help you keep costs as low as possible when implementing UC / VoIP.

Assign a decision maker

The first step is to assign a single person for the entire process before anything is done. This can be difficult in an SMB as IT expertise in this area is often not available. In this case, you're best of selecting the person who knows the most about the business and is capable of communicating them effectively to the pre-sales person at your chosen service provider (such as North Sydney IT) who will then address your technical requirements.

Assess your business

  • What do you have in place?
    Do an inventory of what you have, and share this with your pre-sales consultant. You may be able to save money by incorporating old technology into the new system.
  • Look forward-- how long will the system be in place?
    Are you looking for a three, four or five-year system? Factor this into ROI calculations and the selection of an appropriate vendor / partner combination.
  • Hybrid or pure IP solution?
    You have three choices. Upgrade your existing legacy PBX to IP; buy a hybrid PBX that is part TDM and IP; or buy a pure IP PBX. There are cost, risk and cash flow issues to consider in addition to the technical requirements.
  • New integration with other systems
    As you move to UC, connecting to systems like Microsoft's Exchange or your CRM will bring real productivity gains. Determine these integrations, and make sure your UC platform supports the integration. We prefer Cisco a as this leading vendor already has great out of the box software to connect the IP telephony system to everyday applications.
  • Which components are the best fit for your business?
    The Cisco UC menu is long. VoIP and IP telephony is absolutely required. It is important here to distinguish between VoIP, which is a service, and IP Telephony, which is the hardware and software that make use of that service. But back to UC, which of the following functions are to be included and delivered?
    • Voice and audio conferencing
    • Telepresence
    • Video conferencing
    • Web conferencing
    • Instant messaging (IM)
    • Mobility
    • Call center
    • Application integration (Word, Outlook, CRM)
  • IT issues that drive procurement
    Now that UC will be part of IT, other factors will come into consideration. There are significant cost advantages to engaging North Sydney IT for your UC, because now you can consolidate your IT and telephony providers into the one easy to manage relationship. Read more about the challenges of IP telephony support here.

Lastly, you need to consider the endpoints and connections that will be used:

Legacy analog and digital phone
Can any of these be used in the new system?

Non-phone devices
There will still be non-phone connections. There will be fax machines, security devices, TDD and alarms that need to be supported. It is essential that you choose the correct BRI, FXO/FXS connections for your infrastructure.

What level of IP phone?
There are basic, business and executive level IP phones that must be selected. There is a great range of Cisco IP phones for SMB's on a  budget, see our list of IP phones you can deploy here.

Mobile workers and soft phones
How far do you want to deploy softphones? Cisco's IP communicator makes working from home easy with a softphone that replicates the features of that user's IP phone as if they were at their desk.

Dial plan
Saving money on dial-plans is one of the big ROI benefits of UC. Identify the high cost areas of your telephone account and ask one of our pre-sales consultants how to reduce it.

 

If you'd like to learn more about how to save money on your UC deployment, give North Sydney IT a call now on 1300 783 899.

 

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