Planning a major technical upheaval of any kind is scary. Even more so if it involves your phone system; the very lifeblood of your organisation.
Many an IT manager has come unstuck due to poor organisation and a lack of experience. But it doesn't have to be this way. With a little planning and a bit of insider knowledge, the transition to a new phone system can run smoothly.
The recipe for any successful install consists of a number of factors. You need input from not just the IT department but end-users and senior management too. It is critical that your key communication channel is not disrupted, so we've put together 9 essential considerations that will help ensure a smooth installation.
IT department responsibilities
1. Analogue technology requirements
If you are moving to IP, investigate if all services can be converted to IP. If this isn’t checked thoroughly, you might get a nasty surprise on go-live!
IT need to determine all analogue services and ensure that the new setup can continue these where required. Prime culprits that can be forgotten about are door entry systems and legacy alarm systems that need analogue technology to be retained.
IT must ensure that current infrastructure can support the new phone system. Review all connectivity, including your data switches (POE and supporting VLANS), CAT5 cabling and UPS. Also, don’t forget about increases in QoS requirements. Dealing with these in advance provides flexibility to the chosen solution whilst reducing the risk of any nasty surprises and delays upon installation.
3. Network assessment
Never assume that your network can take extra traffic without any complications. Network assessments will determine whether or not you might experience jitter, latency or delay on voice traffic. Finding this out in advance gives you the power to resolve future issues before your traffic is affected.
4. Involve end users
End user insight will highlight the features that are used most, ensuring that they aren’t overlooked and lost in the excitement of a new system. You might even find the solution to something that has been bugging a team for years.
5. Demo system features
Where possible, test your most complex system features such as CRM integration, presence or mobility with a small group of end users.
Remember, the new system’s features may not operate in exactly the same manner, or provide the exact same data as your old system. These sorts of changes can really confuse end-users if they are not planned for in advance.
Hunt groups, auto attendants, voicemails, diversions and such need careful planning to replicate the previous setup. You cannot be expected to know every single variation of each, so involving end users in this process ensures that no surprises occur when you go live. Avoid engineering expenditure of making changes post go-live.
Senior management responsibilities
Training is often viewed as a low priority afterthought. In an effort to cut costs, it is often cut back. This oversight can have a negative impact on morale and productivity on go-live as staff suddenly have new processes thrust upon them, that disrupt how they may have previously worked.
If you have invested time, budget and effort in a new system; you want the whole team to get the most out of it!
Trained, confident senior staff are willing and able to train other team members. Knowledgeable staff are able to solve user issues as they occur, reducing the load on IT for minor user issues.
8. One size doesn’t fit all
There is a wide variety of hardware (handsets, headsets etc) and software tailored for a specific use. Think about the types of team members your business employs; homeworkers, remote offices, call centre agents etc. Each will have a different requirement from the system and hardware.
Giving everyone a basic digital handset will reduce the impact a new system has upon productivity, thus reducing the benefit to the business.
9. Long term plans
Statistical predictions show that connectivity bandwidth consumption is increasing exponentially. By 2030 business’ will need 50GB just to function day-to-day. You can find out more about connectivity here.
With this future demand in mind, consider bandwidth requirements as part of your new system solution, making the most of your investment.
End-users and senior management should be represented in in your buying process as each have a role to play; without their input issues are often encountered when it is too late.
Making a large investment in a quality phone system can be daunting. But it is an essential step towards operating an efficient and effective business.
Transitioning to new technology needn't be stressful however. By following the steps that we've outlined above, you'll hopefully gain a greater understanding of the key considerations that are required to install a new system in a pain-free fashion.