When making the move from an IP PBX to a Hosted VoIP business phone solution, you should consider the following important factors:
- Cost per user
- Equipment compatibility
- System availability
- Training and support
On-premise IP-PBX systems can be relatively inexpensive, and their costs are usually measured by the total equipment cost or the total cost divided by the number of stations. Hosted VoIP solutions usually quote a plan cost for a set number of users or a per-user cost. The only additional equipment cost for your business is in the VoIP phone itself for each user.
If you plan to use your existing telephone equipment, make sure it is compatible with the hosted solution you choose. Some hosted VoIP plans offer gateways that allow you to plug in traditional telephone devices. While you may save money by using old equipment, it may be a good idea to take the opportunity to upgrade your equipment to the latest session initiation protocol (SIP) phones, which are becoming the standard VoIP technology.
Consider using soft phones, which are software-based SIP phones that reside on a personal computer. This gives users the flexibility of making and receiving calls from their desktop computer. The cost savings can be significant when compared to purchasing a complete new set of hardware phones for your business. Soft phones also have the advantage of being upgraded easily, without the need for purchasing additional hardware.
Look for a clear service agreement that guarantees system availability and service levels. A high-quality phone system is critical to your business, and no amount of downtime is acceptable. Make sure that 24x7 availability is part of your hosted service plan. While some hosted VoIP providers claim to serve the entire world, most of them have a region that they serve based on their location. It makes sense to choose a provider that has a physical presence or at least a local office near you to provide on-site support if it becomes necessary.
All hosted VoIP providers offer some level of training and support. This can range from online tutorials to classroom training and hands-on support. Examine these offerings closely, because a low-cost solution that provides only minimal support may not be right for your business. If you have a large staff that needs additional training, then the cost of that training may pay off in the long run in higher productivity and reduced employee downtime.
Hosted VoIP plans offer many advantages, but each vendor has its own unique way of doing business. Study your needs carefully, and make a plan for evaluating each service. This will help you make the best choice for such an important business investment.