Phone systems are a necessity, a requirement most businesses cannot not live without. Despite the basic nature of phone systems, shopping for a one can be confusing and even overwhelming. We’d like to shed a little light on that process and offer a few tips and considerations.
Choosing a phone system is a balancing act - measuring your needs and wants against cost. You can buy a phone system with all the features in the world.. but will you actually use them? You will most definitely have to pay for them. On the other hand, you can buy a cheap solution that causes nothing but headaches and ends up being replaced after a few short years.
The trick to buying a new phone system is knowing what you truly care about before actually taking any bids from vendors. Find out what features and functions your business absolutely demands from a phone system, and with that knowledge find the most cost effective solution.
Here is our list of 5 major considerations when purchasing a phone system:
The list of VoIP features that you can choose from is expansive: conference calling, voicemail to email, automatic call distribution, remote workplaces, call reporting.. on and on the list continues. The strategy here is to ask yourself, “What features will actually add value to my business?” Start with a small list of basics features and build your list up, evaluating each feature’s value vs. its price tag.
Mobility is more than just a trendy buzzword nowadays. With today’s modern systems you can check your voicemail, answer office calls and transfer calls to other office extensions all from your mobile device. Having access to your company’s phone system from remote locations or while traveling can be a deal breaker for companies that aim for a high-availability workforce. Many phone systems can achieve a decent level of mobility, however the cost can vary wildly from one solution to the next. If mobility is crucial for you, then make sure each bid you receive includes the costs associated with its mobile features.
If you plan on experiencing growth, you should definitely take expansion and flexibility into consideration. Phone systems are often built with a seat cap, which limits the amount of handsets you can install. If you reach the maximum and need more, some systems allow you to expand for a fee. Others may require you to purchase an additional module or add-on. Some systems are built with limitations such that you will be forced to purchase a whole new system to accommodate just a few more phones. Make sure to ask your vendor about the limits and cost of expansion for any proposed system.
How easy will it be for you to make changes to your new system? Some systems are closed so that only certified technicians can make even the simplest of changes. However, some systems are relatively easy to manage and can be configured with simple web interfaces. This puts the power in your hands so you can add new handsets or modify call routing all on your own.
Some vendors may be able to set you up with low or no interest payment plans, rather than requiring that you foot the entire bill upfront. Also, if your company is experiencing growth make sure to ask what the system will cost in the way of expansion, management and addition of features that you may want to add at a later date. Make sure that expansion won’t be cost prohibitive. Finally, when comparing bids ask yourself questions like: Does this phone system meet my basic needs? How much more would I have to pay for features that I like, but that are not critical? When you can answer these questions, it will be much easier to identify the phone system that is right for you.