Choosing the Right Phone System for your Business
If you haven’t already had to go through the process of reviewing your phone system or migrating to VoIP (Voice Over IP), it’s probably something you’re thinking about. Furthermore, with the rollout of the NBN (National Broadband Network) still going full steam ahead, reviewing your phone system will no doubt be on your radar in the near future. What I mean by this is, as the NBN is being rolled out, the old ageing analogue phone network is being switched off. Consequently, this means that one way or another, you will need to move to VoIP sooner or later and in most cases sooner rather than later.
This process is a good opportunity to review how you use your phone systems. For many businesses, they still use some of the very rudimentary functions of a phone system (make and answer a phone call). Although I agree, that the core function of a phone system is to make and receive calls, I also think about mobile phones. This was once their purpose, and now it is likely to be one of the lower utilised functions of a mobile phone. Your phone system evolution is another step in your businesses Digital Transformation and needs to be thought out.
Five areas you should focus on when reviewing your phone systems:
When are your analogue phone lines going to be disconnected?
As mentioned above, with the rollout of the NBN network, there are some strict disconnection dates for analogue phone services being imposed in areas that the NBN network has gone live. These disconnection dates are generally 18 months from the NBN availability date in your area.
If you’re unsure what date your services are due to be disconnected, jump on the NBN Co website and type your address into the search box. On the results page, you’ll be shown your current connectivity status and if NBN is active in your area. You should also see a disconnection date for the old phone network.
It is crucial to have a transition plan in place no later than 3-4 months prior to the disconnection date. The process of migrating from the analogue to digital systems can sometimes take in excess of 8 weeks to be completed, and if the disconnection date is in the middle of your migration project, you will likely run the risk of losing your phone numbers.
Should you just convert your existing analogue system to be VoIP capable?
For some businesses, it may suit to look at converting your existing analogue phone system to be VoIP compatible. This can be achieved by implementing ATA devices that plug into your phone system. What this does is convert the digital signals back into an analogue signal that your old phone system can read.
I would generally advise against this as it is a quick fix patch job. The reality is, if you still have an analogue system, it would be more than 5+ years old (if not older), will be out of warranty and won’t be doing you any favours. Whilst this option has potential to give you some quick cost savings, just remember, you’re essentially trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. It just simply won’t be a long-term solution.
What Provider Should You Use and What Cost Savings Should You Expect?
We’ve done hundreds of these migrations for our customers over the years and haven’t encountered one case where the customer hasn’t walked away with some impressive cost savings. However, times are changing in the telco space, and the market is getting extremely competitive, so savings are starting to become slightly slimmer. Overall, I’d expect for most businesses that aren’t already on VoIP you should be looking for at least a 20-30% monthly saving on your bill. For larger firms, we’ve seen 70% cost reductions due to the change which makes it a no brainer.
As far as providers go, there are plenty to choose from and to be honest, many of them use the same or similar back ends to provide the service to you. I’d certainly avoid the providers that are the cheapest. As the adage goes, “You only get what you pay for”, and that isn’t any different here. You need to be partnering with a company that provides you with good customer service and support. It might pay to get some advice on what other businesses are using and what has gone well and not so well for them.
What other technologies do you use in your business?
As with any technology change in business, we always advise our customers to avoid changing for change’s sake. If you’ve got time up your sleeve before you need to make the move, then embrace it. The reason we suggest this is because with new technology comes new functionality. This is where you can really start to identify your ROI.
Digital phone systems can do many things. For example, integrating with your CRM system, providing simplified reporting on user activity, system access via mobile devices, hot desking, alerting and so on. There are a plethora of features that your business can start taking advantage of which may make the investment worthwhile. ONGC Systems utilise 3CX Phone System due to its ease of use and advanced capabilities.
For businesses that use Office 365, you can now make phone calls via Microsoft Teams, meaning you can get rid of your phone system altogether. In turn, you can leverage this new technology that you’re already paying for.
When it comes down to it, integration is King, so see what can be done to improve your business work flows through the implementation.
How different will the system be?
The main differences between your analogue and digital systems will primarily come down to how you scope your new solution. One of the bigger differences we see now is that businesses choose to use softphones instead of physical desk phones. In these instances, there is a degree of change management that needs to be considered; users now make phone calls via their computer as opposed to a physical phone on a desk. In saying that, whilst it may seem like something for the ‘too hard basket’, the amount of time-saving that can be achieved by this change can be profound.
The fact is, the systems aren’t the same. They will have different quirks and will be different to use. Our recommendation here is to make sure that your team is adequately trained. This will ensure that uptake is maximised and there will be less disruption to business when the change is implemented. For some businesses, it is also good to apply the new system as close to the old system as possible. Once the new system is bedded in and everyone is comfortable, then you may wish to introduce some new features over time. This helps bridge the change management barriers.
There’s no question; this whole process can seem quite intimidating at first, but if done well you should see improvements to your customer service, internal communications and increased efficiencies. Where possible, integrations with your phone system and other technologies in your business will help streamline your workflows and save time and money.
Integrating the right phone system for you
If you’d like more information on what we’ve discussed above or would like some help taking the next step on your Phone System M