Updated: Jan 20, 2020
While adopting a cloud-based phone system may be a no-brainer, deciding on what solution is right for you is not. Instead of just going with a big-box provider, organizations should take the time to map out their business requirements and to prioritize must-have features. Then, they should start talking to providers and evaluating everything from equipment, installation, and service costs to security features. Keep these questions in mind as you look at your options.
What other costs are involved besides the subscription? Often when migrating to VoIP, business owners fail to realize there can be additional costs on top of quoted monthly subscription costs. That’s because upgrading fixed lines or onsite PBX phone systems can require purchasing new equipment, which may include new phones or routers that can support direct IP phone connections. The VoIP provider or technology partner may also require some installation or set up costs. The good news is that businesses that ditch copper line based systems, or in-house PBX, and move to hosted VoIP don’t have to set up equipment at all office locations. It’s a centrally managed system so companies often big compared to what they currently pay each month. There’s also no ‘long-distance’ phone costs and can companies can select plans to support their specific requirements. Whether that’s a high-volume call center, or pay-as-you-go pricing model, organizations often report big-time cost benefits of switching to VoIP systems.
What security protections are in place? An effective cloud phone system should protect a wide range of fraud attempts and malware by encrypting all traffic. Vulnerability scans are also useful to check for data breaches or other security threats that may have otherwise gone undetected. Businesses should evaluate providers’ commitment to security, and the availability of security experts to respond to potential breaches immediately.
What business continuity plans are in place? As we all know, there’s no good time for downtime. The advantage of a VoIP business phone system is that there’s built-in redundancy into the cloud-based system. Components are not centralized, as when hosted internally onsite, and equipment, hardware, and data are geographically diverse and managed in a secure data center. If your company experiences on-site floods, fire, mechanical failure, or other natural or human-made disasters, your IP-based phone system won’t be impacted. In addition to built-in business continuity capabilities, ask provides what additional protections they have. For instance, in the unlikely event of a disaster at the data center, make sure customer calls can be automatically routed and re-directed. Ask what happens when one component fails; will another one will pick up the workload? These business failover features can give companies additional peace of mind knowing lines of communication will still be open during an unforeseen event.
Can I still fax? Sometimes overlooked in discussions about hosted PBX and VoIP is inquires about faxing services. Several verticals such as healthcare, law firms, and financial industries still rely heavily on frequent multi-page faxing. Sometimes fax machines are ‘too fast’ to use on VoIP and may require manual settings adjustments. Other providers offer alternative ‘electronic or internet faxing services.’ These services allow fax communication without an actual fax machine at either or both ends. It includes scanning documents and sending them via email in a PDF format.
Cloud-hosted communication systems have many benefits compared to legacy phone systems. IP-based phone systems are more cost-effective, can be managed from one online platform, and they also give employees the freedom to take and make business calls from anywhere. If your company is considering cloud-hosted business phone services, it’s critical to ask smart questions early on to avoid unexpected problems down the road.