With the cost of communications infrastructure today, it’s difficult to know what the best solution for your organization may be. Stay on-site? Jump into the cloud? Or perhaps implement something in between? Many factors will impact your decision: current equipment investments, future growth, business goals, customer needs and, not least of all, budget.
Unified communications, but not in the cloud please
The Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA) was wary of using cloud-hosted telephony. Five months after installing such a system, the group’s leaders decided it wasn’t the right solution. So, they faced the question: Now what?
With 14 offices across the state and over 187,000 teachers, school employees and healthcare workers, PSEA needed a solution that used existing equipment, enabled centralized IT management and improved member communications.
After deciding to leave the cloud, the group’s first step was to replace its 14 separate on-site phone systems. Next, it installed a unified communications (UC) solution to connect all of its offices statewide. Even though IT had to work around office schedules, the deployment went smoothly, putting one to two offices into service every two weeks.
The IT team is pleased with the result. Using a simple web-based application, it can centrally manage the system, saving support costs. Also, more analog endpoints and users reside on one switch, streamlining maintenance and operations. In addition, PSEA was able to reconfigure the previous cloud-based phones to work with the new architecture.
Serving the public cost-effectively
The City of Rancho Cucamonga desperately needed to upgrade its aging phones. The 900-employee government of this 200,000-person, southern California community prides itself on its responsiveness. To officials, a communications solution that was cost-effective and future-proof was mandatory.
Replacing the phone system across all offices was fiscally impossible, explains Darryl Polk, chief innovation officer and director of the department of innovation and technology. Instead, the city upgraded to a UC structure that uses existing telephony and integrates with its current network. To evaluate needs, Polk’s staff first met with all department heads to identify their call flow requirements.
The new system uses the most up-to-date Internet-based technology. When the city is ready to move services into the cloud, the infrastructure is already in place. With this new upgrade, Polk says, “we are ensuring our system will be viable into the future, while also being able to understand and accurately forecast our costs.”
Room for growth
Kids Plus Pediatrics in western Pennsylvania is growing. With three locations and 100 employees, it needed a communications system that would improve quality of care and provide data to efficiently manage staffing.
Essential to this new solution was scalability. “We went from one office to two offices in the period of about a decade. The following year we opened up another office and there’s a good chance that we’ll be opening a fourth,” says Christian Lowry, KPP’s chief information director.
KPP also needed a way to manage call volume and timing to better coordinate staffing. With the new UC system, managers have the metrics to do so. “We now have up-to-date, up-to-the-minute analytics on call volume, productivity and wait times,” explains CFO Albert Wolfe. “Now we can adjust our staffing to meet variable demands, which we never had the ability to do before.”
As part of the upgrade, KPP decided to make a few other infrastructure improvements. It switched data center providers and phone carriers and updated its on-site servers. Now it’s poised for the future, while better meeting today’s needs.
Is on-site deployment the way to go?
If your organization is facing similar challenges, you should carefully assess your needs before moving forward. Gather input from stakeholders and decision-makers, review current and future budgets and keep an eye on the future.
Keep these points in mind when evaluating a technology partner:
Sees the big picture. Your UC vendor should help you plan not just for your current requirements, but also for what is coming. An on-site deployment may make sense today, but the vendor’s solution should also position your infrastructure for cloud deployment when the time comes.
Protects your investment. Buying a whole new phone system may not be in the budget. A good partner works with your existing infrastructure and integrates your on-site hardware with third-party applications that add functionality.
Collaboration and connection. The true power of UC is its ability to connect your employees and customers. Be sure that your on-site deployment provides collaboration tools, mobile connectivity, conferencing, phones and integrated call center solutions that integrate with CRM for better and more responsive customer service.
Flexible and secure architecture. It may go without saying, but: What use are all these features if the system isn’t secure, with redundancies and backup?
The bottom line: You don’t have to move to the cloud to take advantage of its benefits. A UC solution working with on-site deployment can reap many of the same advantages of a cloud-hosted environment, giving you flexibility, scalability and control.