Getting More from Your Unified Communications (UC) System

By Digium Content Marketing Team
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asterisk-trainingEven with the high value that a Unified Communications (UC) system delivers to businesses of all sizes, there are some factors that could prevent you from getting the most from your phone system. Fortunately, one of the more common challenges companies run into during a UC deployment is also one of the easiest to overcome: a slow adoption rate. After implementation, you may notice that employees are not using all of the available UC features. In large part it’s because they simply do not know how to use the tools.

In a recent Softchoice survey of 750 end-user employees and 250 IT managers, 71 percent said they use fewer of the communication tools than their companies actually make available to them. Why? Over one-third of respondents admitted they did not know how to use some of the UC tools they have access to with their phone system. As with most technology roll-outs, companies face challenges in getting their employees to adopt UC technologies- but a solid implementation strategy can easily remedy that issue.

The main culprits that lend themselves to the underutilization of UC include: Lack of understanding, lack of employee and management buy-in, and lack of training.

To avoid under utilization, follow these guidelines:

Bring Everyone On Board

Lack of familiarity among employees and IT can create roadblocks for adopting a complete UC solution. To avoid this, make sure you are assessing your end user requirements by anticipating their needs, as well as your larger company goals. Get a cross-section of employees involved in the system evaluation and buying process to discover what features they most need. Make sure these employees also demo the system to see its capabilities, firsthand. When comparing vendors, ensure that those capabilities or UC features are indeed easy to use (which is the intention). Involving key stakeholders in the evaluation process when upgrading your business phone system will help you identify problem areas in your existing system (from a user perspective),as well as provide crucial end user feedback on the new phone system prior to deployment.

Knowledge must be Taught

When it comes to UC, knowledge is power – and that knowledge must be taught. In addition to ensuring awareness, leaders should provide adequate training on UC tools and features. According to the same Softchoice survey, one-third of employees, revealed they did not receive training, and half of those who did receive training indicated they got less than 30 minutes. One way to improve retention following training is rather than just showing employees how to use the UC system, help them also understand why the features will be useful to them. Discuss how a specific UC feature can improve productivity and save them time, and then offer ongoing job-specific training so users are comfortable with the tools..

To rollout a complete training program, consult your UC vendor or reseller about a train-the-trainer program and online training classes (or self-paced videos). These types of training options make it easy to teach your IT staff on the proper way to train end users. With the right guidance provided to both the IT department and the end users, your UC system’s features are more likely to be used at full capacity and become a tool that makes tasks easier and communications more convenient.

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Management Buy-in

As with most new initiatives and product purchases, having someone in a position of authority to oversee the transition is needed for it to be successful across all users. Another reason to have management buy-in is to keep employees mindful and responsible for using the system’s features. Brian Ferguson, our Switchvox Product Marketing Manager, emphasizes the responsibility factor by stating, “Management buy-in is important for monitoring and making sure employees are updating their status, using their mobile apps and using the other features available within the system until it becomes a habitual part of their workflow. If the end-user evaluation was done correctly, the features of the system are actually needed, and employees should be using them in order to gain the benefits of a unified communications solution.”

As with most worthwhile ventures, deployment (and adoption) of a UC system does not happen overnight, but the technology is worth the small effort it takes to guarantee its use. In order for your organization to fully realize the benefits, do your homework first: Understand UC and its capabilities, keep the end-user in mind when choosing a system, properly train employees, and get manager buy-in. Leveraging technology partners to provide insight and recommend the appropriate features for your organization will prove invaluable and have a direct impact where it matters most: on your bottom line.

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