5 Steps to Successfully Switch to a Cloud-Based Phone System
Companies are realizing a number of benefits when they switch to a cloud-based phone system, including lower costs, greater reliability, better support for mobile workers and the ability to easily integrate business applications.
Making the switch may seem daunting, but you can ease the transition by laying some basic groundwork. To ensure a successful transition, follow these five steps.
1: Assess Your Needs
The first step is to understand the scope of your phone needs. Two areas that have a big impact on deployment: locations and employees.
Specifically, you’ll need to know not only how many office locations you have today, but also an idea of how many new locations the company plans to add in the future. In addition, consider the type of phone services you’ll need at each place, including in reception and conference rooms, in addition to general offices.
Next consider the profile of your workforce. How many employees work from the office? How many work remotely or are mobile? Do workers expect to bring their own devices (BYOD) to work and have them integrate seamlessly with the cloud phone system? Not only do many employees demand that, they expect collaboration to be easy, regardless of their location. To meet such needs, a cloud phone system should offer features like video conferencing and instant messaging.
2: Capture Department Requirements
Be sure to consult with key decision-makers from across the company to capture the features they need to be most productive. The IT department, of course, will best understand your technical infrastructure, but other groups may have plans to move critical applications, such as customer relationship management or applicant tracking systems, to the cloud. Those plans could impact your choice of provider.
Some departments that typically have unique phone needs include Sales, Customer Service, IT, Marketing, Executives, Finance, HR and Operations. Try to identify the early adopters on each team and get them on-board with your plans. This will help ensure a smoother rollout, because these early adopters can help you communicate the benefits of the new system.
3: Consider Features and Functionality Options
Cloud-based phone systems allow businesses to choose from an array of features and capabilities. As you collect requirements, also pay attention to your users’ wish lists. Then, take the time to get a comprehensive understanding of the additional services a cloud-based system provides, such as business application integration, analytics, reporting, and mobility options that extend the network. By matching the wish lists to the vendor options, you can choose capabilities that enhance the value of your investment.
4: Define the Technical Specifications
Working with your IT consultant, evaluate your technical needs. Specify whether the public or a private cloud is best for your organization. Your IT department will have concerns about security, data protection and reliability. Be sure your vendor can detail its security procedures and explain the steps it has in place to ensure business continuity. It’s a good idea to formalize a strong service level agreement with the vendor.
5: Do Your Homework
When evaluating cloud providers, it’s important to understand the experience each one has working with businesses similar to yours. Get a detailed explanation of costs to minimize surprises. Vendors should also explain the implementation process, upgrade policies and how ongoing support is handled.
Although these steps may seem straightforward, following them can have an outsized effect on your rollout. By laying this groundwork, you’ll gather a set of on-target requirements, alleviate concerns, gain buy-in, generate excitement and stage a seamless launch of your cloud-based phone system.