Every day technology gets easier to use. From adding a wireless network to your home office, to upgrading your companies smart phones to new cloud-based solutions like Cloud Phones, the interfaces have never been easier for an end user to navigate. But if you’re a DIYer (Do It Yourselfer), it’s easy to be seduced by the marketing hype around today’s cloud phone systems and therefore skimp on preparing for a successful deployment. With any technology there should always be room for error. However, when it comes time for your business to make an upgrade to your phone system, here are 5 tips to making sure your deployment goes smoothly as possible.
- Make sure your Local Network is up to snuff
- Make sure you have a managed PoE switch
- Use 2 Internet circuits with an SD WAN solution
- Choose your VoIP partner very carefully
- Make sure your employees are ready
Wireless networks do not support IP phones very well, that’s why we recommend a wired network to handle the voice traffic – more specifically a network-ready environment. When I talk about network-ready environment, I’m talking about your switch and data cables. It is mission critical that each phone is plugged directly into a Cat 5 or 6 Ethernet connection. It’s imperative that the Ethernet connection that you plug in to has a continuous connection back to your Managed Switch. In other words, any “daisy chaining” of switches will affect voice quality by increasing latency. You also lose important voice routing instructions when you don’t have an uninterrupted path to your managed switch, critical to providing QoS and quality voice. The network is the key to any new phone system install, whether in the cloud or premise based.
Make sure you have a managed POE switch
For best practice, include a managed PoE (Power over Ethernet) switch. A cloud phone needs a dedicated power source to function, unlike a traditional analog or digital phone which uses a tiny bit of electricity for its power needs, supplied by the local phone company or the digital PBX. PoE injectors are an alternative but should only be used in scenarios where the investment in Layer 3 switching was completed recently and the only added value would be PoE.
The network switches must respect QoS tagging and support multiple VLANS in order to ensure the quality of the voice calls are spectacular. Latency, lost packets and jitter are not well tolerated by voice, ensuring you have a quality data switch will make these problems a thing of the past.
Use 2 Internet circuits!
One of the advantages of moving to a cloud phone solution is that you can eliminate your highly taxed analog phone lines and conduct your voice business over your internet connections. However you have now created an environment with a single point of failure. In other words, if your internet goes down, you lose your ability to make phone calls. This problem is easily resolved with SD WAN products provided by services like MCaaS. By reviewing your needs for data traffic you can identify what types of circuits make most sense for your business and pair it with the appropriate SD WAN solution ensuring maximum performance and uptime. Keep in mind these circuits should use diverse paths and be provided by different carriers to ensure maximum uptime.
Choose your UC partner very carefully
There is an adage that I cringe to say, but all too often it is true: “You get what you pay for.” After deploying hundreds of communication solutions, I can honestly tell you that the biggest mistake I see is customers choosing the cheapest partner they find. Having owned my own business, I understand why price is generally the first thing business owners consider. After deployment, when the initial honeymoon phase is done, voice quality and feature set quickly become the undeniable issues that businesses notice most. With so many options it’s easy to overlook details like, who developed the software? Who manufactures the phones? What does customer tech support look like? How do I make add moves and changes? Does the system integrate with my CRM? Ask these questions before you sign on the dotted line. 1 in 3 cloud voice deployments fail, I believe in large part it is due to poor planning and project management, make sure you have a partner you can trust to provide a solid deployment.
Make sure your employees are ready!
Technology is rapidly changing, and so is today’s workforce. Many recent college graduates and younger professionals are going to expect modern phone features like Mobility, Hot Desking, and conference calling. On the flip side, however, you have the established professionals who are set in their ways and have difficulty adapting to changing technologies. Believe it or not, 65% our trouble tickets are simple user errors. Your new solution for voice will only be as successful as your deployment and training strategy.
At the end of the day, your business is here to make money not manage and deploy new technologies. Your communication system should be a tool that is leveraged to make your employees and business more productive. If you partner with a company who understands telephony, and you ask the right questions from the start, you will get much more bang for your buck and be a happier customer long term.
Author: JP Wilson