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Planning for UCaaS or Hosted VoIP? 5 More Questions Your Business Should Ask and Answer

Posted by Kevin Gulley

Jul 5, 2016

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We recently published a post called  ‘5 questions SMBs must ask and answer before implementing UCaaS or Hosted VoIP’.  It was based on a conversation with Aldo Ramirez, the VP of Sales at UCaaS company ANPI,  and there was so much information packed into that discussion that I had to write up a second article with the next 5 questions SMBs should ask themselves.  So without further ado, make sure you know the answers to these questions:

What Types of Employees Do You Have and What Capabilities Will They Need?

Employees can have very different communications requirements, especially when it comes to advanced capabilities like those that come with UCaaS.  Determining the types of employees you have and how they will best use the UCaaS platform provides a lot of insight into how the deployment will proceed, says Ramirez.  “We suggest keeping things simple.  For a first pass, break down employees into three categories - desk workers, mobile workers and executives.”

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Desk workers might be employees like the accounting team or administrators that spend the majority of their time at their desk and on the phone.  These folks have very few mobility requirements and aren’t spending a lot of time on web conferences, so their needs don’t extend beyond telephony.  Mobility workers on the other hand are salespeople, service technicians, remote employees and others that spend a lot of their time out of the office or on the road and will need UC mobility and collaboration capabilities.  Executives are a hybrid of the two and could benefit from the full UC suite with mobility, video and collaboration.  “By breaking things down like this, you can get an idea of your licensing requirements and make sure that you are providing the right tools to the right team members,” says Ramirez.

How Will Calls Flow Through Your New UCaaS Service?

We got into many of the details of ‘Call Flow’ in a recent post, so no need to go into too much detail, but as we wrote:

As great as advanced UC capabilities are, when push comes to shove UCaaS needs to deliver a rock-solid telephone backbone, and defining how the phone system works is perhaps the most important aspect of the design phase.  Balvanz refers to this process as In - Out - Across, or “what number do people call to get to your company or employees and what happens when they get to you, what do people see when you call out from your company, and how do you manage extensions, numbers, internal dialing and transfers inside the company.”

For more details, check out the Call Flow section of the article here.

Are There Any Advanced Services You Will Require?

Advanced Services can range from call recording to call reporting to full-blown contact center capabilities.  If you are moving to UCaaS, all of these requirements need to be discussedidentified, defined and executed on prior to deployment.  Each presents potential challenges and integration requirements.

According to Ramirez, these can vary widely, depending on the company.  For example, “when it comes to call reporting, I’ve worked with businesses that do no call analysis, and others that regularly look at 15 different reports to control costs and quality.  Further discussion revealed that they were looking to export these reports into a 3rd party reporting engine to maintain that level of analysis.”  Understanding your business’s specific needs will allow you to understand how they will be supported in a UCaaS environment.

Do You Have Analog Needs That Will Need to Be Maintained?

There are certain devices that take advantage of analog phone lines and may not be a perfect match for IP communications.  Things like faxes, point of sale devices, alarm lines and elevator lines all need to be taken into consideration.  “Some of these historically analog connections/devices will be supported and some not and sometimes it’s a matter of scale” says Ramirez.  “Take for example faxing.  If as a company you send 3 faxes a day, you will likely be fine with UCaaS, but if you send 500, it may make sense to just keep a POTS line or switch over to hosted fax or soft fax.”

In some instances, like the elevator or alarm lines, there can be multiple variables involved and converting these lines to a UCaaS or hosted VoIP system is generally not recommended.  Especially with mission critical or life safety devices, you want to make sure you have a bulletproof solution defined ahead of time and many times this means keeping an analog line or two around.

How Do You Want to Handle Installation and Training?

Depending on your business and what is defined by answering these questions (and these other 5 over here), you can start making decisions on your approach to installation and training.  When it comes to install options, they can range from shipping pre-provisioned phones that you put on employees desks and they self activate when plugged in, all the way to having a professional team come on site and set up each phone, desktop and device.

In many ways the same thing holds true for training.  “We’ve had tremendous success with self-service video training tutorials,”” , says Ramirez.  “People love to learn at their own pace and dig deeper when they’re ready.”  On the other hand, many businesses are more comfortable with having live, on-line training, or even face-to-face, especially for the system administrators and users using more advance features.

Are there other questions you’d like us to dig into?  Let us know in the comments section below.

Topics: Voice, collaboration, Employees, Best Practices, UCaaS, SMB