In today's economy, organizations are often compelled to improve communications for several reasons: increase individual and team productivity, improve customer service, increase competitiveness, remove choke points in business processes, and more.

There’s just one problem.

If the cost of buying, deploying, and maintaining a new communications system, the total cost of ownership (TCO), is too high, it negates any benefits obtained from the system.

Determining the TCO of a solution should be a simple proposition for any new software or hardware solution: establish the upfront and long-term costs, assess the benefits, do the math, and make the buying decision.

But it’s not simple when the full benefits aren’t understood and the real costs can’t be determined.

Of course, some companies like this obscurity. With high brand recognition and a strong sales pitch, they figure they can slide over the TCO numbers, especially the long-term value, and close a complex deal that benefits them more than their customers.

When it comes to the TCO of a UC system, consider these high-level factors before ever looking at specs:

  • Does the vendor offer a TCO tool based on independent data to help you accurately measure upfront and long-term costs and focus on the long-term value, instead of just the upfront costs which represent a mere 25 percent of TCO over five or more years?
  • Does the vendor offer a lowest TCO guarantee that uses independent third-party data to compare the actual costs a business incurs for its UC system over time, and then lowers its prices to beat any competitor?
  • Does the vendor actually follow a technology and sales-model approach designed to lower TCO?

If you’re ready to purchase a UC system with the guaranteed lowest TCO, here are some specific questions to ask:

  • Does the vendor offer free software upgrades, saving customers significant costs over the long term?
  • Does the system allow you to integrate voice and data applications, such as CRM, enabling your organization to extend the benefits of the system by dramatically streamlining business processes for greater productivity and easier collaboration?
  • Is the system easy to manage so moves, adds and changes for an entire multisite deployment can be performed from one location by a non-technical user, eliminating costly calls to the phone company or contractor call-outs?
  • Does the system offer least-cost routing and support for primary rate interfaces (PRIs) to eliminate toll charges for calls between geographically diverse sites, and reduce the number of leased lines that need to be deployed at each site?
  • Is the system energy efficient, significantly lowering TCO while helping support your green initiatives?
  • Is the system an open, fully distributed IP-based unified communications system that can be integrated with legacy communications equipment and be deployed incrementally in order to control upfront costs?
  • Does the system easily support mobile and remote workers so you have the flexibility to locate individuals and teams anywhere in the world to lower costs while still presenting a single face to your customers and partners?
  • Is the system easy to learn, so you can minimize the time and cost of training new users?

If you’d like to learn more about how ShoreTel can help untangle communications TCO, contact your local ShoreTel reseller.


Digital transformation has become a top initiative for business and IT leaders. In today’s business world, sustainable market leadership is no longer based solely on which company has the best products or even the best people. Instead, organizations that are agile and can quickly adapt to rapidly evolving market trends will become market leaders.

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