Recently there has been a lot of buzz around “moving to the cloud” and integrating technology into every facet of business, but is that the right move for your business? It may be, however, as a business owner or manager, you must thoroughly analyze any investment and discover the true costs and benefits it brings to their operations.
What is a VoIP Telephone System Exactly?
The term “VoIP” is thrown around often without proper explanation. VoIP is an acronym for “Voice over Internet Protocol”, which combines hardware and software to allow your employees to use the Internet to transmit their telephone calls. Modern systems integrate voice, data and video, allowing callers to share important images or communicate face to face with the recipient. A VoIP system can be utilized by accessing a virtualized cloud-based system from a remote location or from an on-premises system that physically houses the required hardware at your location.
Hosted and Cloud-based VoIP- When you decide to use a hosted VoIP solution, your vendor or provider physically houses the hardware at a remote location. The solution may or may not be virtualized in a remote data centre. In either case, the customer receives access over their broadband Internet connection or private network connection.
On-Premises VoIP- In contrast, when you utilize an on-premises system, the hardware resides at your physical location and in most cases, you will take ownership of the solution in the future. Depending on the solutions offered, some phone systems can serve remote (or off-site) employees from hardware that is located at your main location. This is still referred to as an “on-premises solution” because your business houses the server and your employees provide all of the IT support. This is a general overview of an on-premise system, where an on-premise solution through TOPS could be a little easier to integrate and maintain due to our high levels of customer support.
So the question then becomes- which phone system is the best for your specific situation? There are 7 major factors that you will need to consider when deciding between a host or on-premise solution.
Do You Have Strong Internet Service?
The first major requirement of a hosted system is a reliable and fast internet connection.
A hosted solution relies 100% on your link to the web, so you will need to ensure your internet connection will be able to consistently support a hosted VoIP offering, while also providing adequate bandwidth to support the calls being made.
If you have a strong connection to the internet, your hosted experience should be sufficient, however, it will come at a cost. Each phone call will use about 85KB of data per second at the bare minimum. Once you start integrating other features such as video streaming, your data usage will be through the roof, with the potential to affect your employee’s normal internet connection which they rely on to be efficient and complete their daily tasks. Unsure what your internet connection will support? The telecommunications department at TOPS will be able to analyze your system and equip you with a telephone solution that fits your internet connection
Are You Interested in Saving in the Short or the Long Term
Comparing the financial impacts of a hosted VoIP solution versus an on-premise solution is difficult to do without a specific example, however, as a general rule, a hosted system will cost less up front but more in the long run. An on-premise solution will require an investment for the server and other required hardware upfront but in the long run, it will be a much cheaper solution than a hosted VoIP (see provided example below).
What are the “Proposed Savings”?
When you look for a VoIP telephone system, many providers that offer hosted solutions will try to re-contract services to make their solution appear more attractive. This means that they are offering “savings” by bundling services when in reality, these savings are always available to your business through separate entities.
Don’t fall for gimmicks- look to partner with a provider that is transparent about their offerings and has a track record of dependable, honest service with other businesses in your area. A complete managed system can be a great option for your business, you simply need to ensure that the offered services match your needs.
What Functionality Do You Require?
Next, you must consider what functions and features your team require from their phone systems. It is very important to determine what custom features you would like to see present in your VoIP offering. Hold campaigns, call routing and call recording services may all require specific programming and functionality, which may not be available through a hosted system. Many hosted offerings that appear very cost effective at first glance feature the most basic phone hardware with extremely limited features that restrict you from customizing your communication system to your unique needs.
How Much Do You Plan to Grow Your Business?
Another sales pitch you will hear from hosted providers is that it is very easy to scale a hosted system as you expand. This is the case but what they fail to mention is that if your provider outfits you with the correct on-premise hardware from the beginning, expanding that system is a simple task. The key is to ensure that you partner with a provider such as TOPS that has knowledge and solutions in a wide range of areas. A complete and managed system will be expanded by your provider as your business needs grow.
Do You Work with Sensitive Information?
If security is a concern for your company, you want to be very familiar with the company that is handling your communication services. Whether you choose a hosted or on-premise provider, there is room for error. Of course, if you are trusting all your data with a hosted third-party business, you could be handing them the keys to the castle if they decided to utilize your information in a negative way, or if they were breached themselves.
Even with an on-premise solution, you must be cautious. You want your system to be installed by an expert, not a random IT employee that is taking their best guess. Choose a telecommunications partner with a track record of success, who can solve any technical issue that may arise. At TOPS, we take pride in the fact that we have been offering VoIP solutions for over 10 years and have an amazing track record to display!
How Important is “Image” to You? Do Your Customers Care What VoIP System You Use?
Does your business define itself by creating great products and services, or does it rely on touting the “cool” technology that it utilizes? With all the talk of “going to the cloud”, integrating apps and living on social media, it is easy to get caught up with trying to embrace a “cool” image, while you should really be focusing on what your company does best. You know what is not “cool”? Poor quality communication and dropped calls are not cool.
Find an efficient and solid VoIP solution that fits your need and save the technology touting for the startups in Silicon Valley.
Additional Considerations : Service & Installation
After considering system costs, usability and performance, it is important to discover the details of how installation will be preformed. Is your new provider simply going to send your IT employee the hardware that needs to be installed? What if there are problems? Do you get “white glove” service at installation and what does that entail?
You need your VoIP solution to function and support your business processes immediately so you can conduct business and keep orders flowing. Price is one consideration in making a business decision but reliable service and support is where you can recognize the highest benefit. Partner with a company this is focused on getting your business to function at peak efficiency instead of an overseas option that is only concerned about the number of phones you may need. The major systems of your business need on going, local service in the event that technological issues arise. Do you have a team that will come on site and resolve your issues quickly or are you simply left to call a remote number for support? This may be the largest issue with Hosted support.
The most important single factor is the vendor that you work with – a vendor such as TOPS Office Solutions offers all types of systems including cloud, premise, digital, new/refurbished, and a variety of telecom and data services including broadband and dial tone circuits. We are professionals that won’t try to jam you into a single solution because it’s all we offer – with our diverse catalogue, we can match you up with the best solution for your unique needs.
We provide both onsite installation and service, and toll-free help desk from experts based in the Canada. You can call them today at (250) 979-6700 or visit them online at www.topsoffice.ca