In Part 1 of this blog series: Shopping for Phone System Vendors, we discussed the importance of understanding your business needs before contacting vendors, and the steps to take to ensure you know what type of system you really want. Once you have these business needs written down, the next step is contacting phone system vendors. As you are communicating with them about the various system options for your company, it’s recommended you incorporate the following into your due-diligence process:
1. Complete a side-by-side feature comparison between vendor solutions. This is especially important once you narrow down your system preferences to the top two or three vendors. The ‘little’ details or differences between solutions could end up making a big (and costly) difference. Ask for clarification on which features are included in initial pricing and which features are considered “add-ons.” For example, there are business-critical features for which some vendors make you pay more, like mobility. Additional licensing and support fees can also drive up costs, and are not always obvious in an initial quote for a new system. Request a complete print out of features and the add-on costs associated with each.
2. Make a list of the pros and cons of multiple phone system options before narrowing down specific vendor options. Today, there are tangible, budget-friendly options that include traditional on-premises phone systems, cloud-based systems, and even open source systems, like Asterisk. Each option can provide advantages and risks. Digium provides all three alternatives, so our VoIP specialists are able to help businesses evaluate the following types of systems:
- Custom, open source solutions (Asterisk), which can provide great flexibility, especially if you have access to dedicated in-house IT resources.
- Out-of-the-box, on-premises solutions, like Switchvox ,which offer business-critical UC features at an affordable price. This is particularly appealing to those businesses that still want or need the flexibility of a custom solution, but may have limited in-house IT resources, or prefer to use those IT resources for other projects.
- Hosted PBX systems, which put your UC phone system in the cloud – this is an ideal fit for smaller companies that aren’t ready to invest in the infrastructure of a typical on-premises system, or do not have in-house IT resources to manage the system, but still need the features and flexibility that you typically get with on-prem. Be sure to look for equally robust hosted options, such as Switchvox Cloud.
- A hybrid solution, which allows a larger corporate office to house an on-premises system while implementing Cloud solutions to their smaller office locations.
3. Ask about post-sales support, which can eat into your budget long after the system is installed. When comparing support options, consider the strength of the vendor’s channel program, which can determine whether or not there is an approved reseller available to help with on-site installation and on-going support. Also, ask about access to online training and support – which could help not only reduce the long-term cost of your phone system, but also help ensure you and your employees use the system to its fullest capabilities by understanding and using all or most of the UC features.
A great way to browse over vendors and products in the market is to attend conferences where several of them will be gathered. This allows you to bring your list of business requirements and speak directly with a sales associate, while experiencing the system hands-on.
Register now for our upcoming webinar to ensure that your next
business communications vendor is the right choice for your organization.