Unified communications allow your business to establish communication between team members regardless of their location or what device they’re using. It helps with delivering work more quickly and to a higher standard. There are also cost benefits that can help businesses reinvest back into the business to improve processes, or just to increase profits.
However, moving all the communication systems over to unified communications can be a daunting task. Some business leaders might struggle to see the benefits, or whether the implementation is worth the effort, investment and change.
However, unified communications are one of the best investments a business can make, especially if you operate in different locations or have remote workers. Yet there are ways you can make the process easier and look more profitable. Here are our top tips for implementing a unified communications system in your business.
1. Think about the business first and not the technology
While the technology for your business is great, the first thought for any successful implementation must be about the business. You have to identify what the main priorities are going to be for the unified communication systems and what the ultimate goals are. These need to be specific and measurable.
By being clear on what you expect the benefits to the business will be, you will gain better support from leadership throughout the business. Users will also be less reluctant to use the new system, something that can cause a lot of projects to fail.
Once you’ve identified your business drivers, you can then start to assess what technology you need.
2. Seek support from leadership and influencers
When you are implementing a unified communication system in the business, you’re going to be making changes to how people work. They’ll be comfortable with the current system and so might be reluctant to switch systems.
That is why you need to get the attention of those in leadership positions across your business and get their support. They can help drive the roll-out of the unified communications system across the organisation.
You should also look for influencers. These are not always members of the team who are in leadership positions, but people who are respected and listened to by other members of the team. Influencers can cut costs and improve uptake, increasing the chances of a successful project.
3. Assess current needs
Businesses aren’t as unified as they once were. Thanks to technology, people, offices and operations can be located over multiple locations. People in all of these areas can be using different tools and output devices. This creates a challenge as you aren’t just changing one system, you’re changing lots of different systems.
Therefore, you need to assess the current users, what they’re using, why they’re using it and what they need to complete their tasks. You’ll also need to check with current communication suppliers about contracts. When do these end? Is there a buy-out clause? When do you need to start using your new system to ensure users can still communicate using video, voice, conferencing and messaging?
4. Check whether you have the network capacity for the task
Unified communications might be more intensive than your old system and this might put a strain on your IT network. If you don’t have the infrastructure in place before the switch, then it will seem like a failure.
Find experts who can assess your network’s capabilities and ensure that it is up to the task of handling the new demands that will be placed upon it. If appropriate, use this time to upgrade the system so it is fit for future use and you can use your unified communications to maximise benefits.
5. Don't forget the cloud
While you can deliver unified communications through on-site technology, this isn’t always the best solution. Cloud services can be very efficient in offering the same benefits and functions as any on-site technology.
The cloud also offers additional benefits such as being available anywhere in the world without additional equipment. Therefore, users can literally sign-on and be part of your unified communications network. A good feature for businesses who have travelling members of staff or those that like to work remotely.
6. Don't forget security
Data protection is really important in today’s business world. New laws, legislation, and focus have been put on businesses keeping consumer data secure. In the past, data could be fragmented as it was stored in different places across an organisation. However, now, with unified communications, there is a chance to centralise all information for efficient business use.
It isn’t just about consumer data either. Chats and other communications being held on unified communications must be considered in your security processes. They might contain information which is sensitive.
However, you must also consider the security of the data. A lot of data breaches are because of staff error or when staff are the perpetrators of the breach. Therefore, ensure you have ways to secure all data and archive it safely.
7. Create a plan for delivery
Delivering a unified communications solution is complex. There are many parts to the process which is why it seems so daunting. That is why you need a good plan for the delivery to ensure that the risk of failure is minimised.
Your plan for delivery should include timelines, responsibilities and contingencies for when something goes wrong. It is always best to roll-out the implementation of your new communication system in phases. Test the roll-out for each department or area and ensure it is working perfectly before moving onto the next phase.
8. Increase user adoption
Your biggest challenge to the successful adoption of a unified communication solution is not the technology, nor is it likely to be leadership in a company; it is the end-user. Sometimes it is hard for people to make changes and this causes low adoption rates and fragmented business processes.
That is why you need to recruit influencers into your project to sell the use of the communication tools as well as allow for training of the new system. A phased roll-out will also support your business’ adoption of the unified communications system.
9. Plan for the end of project management
While you might be focused on the delivery of the unified communications project, it doesn’t end once installed and being used. You need to decide who will manage the tools and systems once the project has been completed.
This is just as important as the installation, because a system that is abandoned after installation will result in users abandoning it in the future for their old systems. After all your hard work, you’ll want and deserve for the project to be a success.