As Voice-over-IP (VoIP) phone services continue to become more reliable, cost-effective, and include advanced features, businesses of all sizes are taking notice. Many companies are interested in cloud-based phone services because they take traditional PBX systems to the next level. Instead of maintaining a complex collection of hardware and a copper wire leading back to a conventional phone connection, or even managing a software-based system on a server in-house, an internet-based phone system like VoIP routes calls over a broadband connection. VoIP systems deliver advanced features that previously only large enterprises using expensive PBX hardware could access. Including automated attendants, call waiting, and voicemail to email features. Business VoIP systems can also deliver smartphone applications and mobility features that give today’s remote workers the full functionality of their desk phones, anytime, anywhere, and from any device.
While adopting a cloud-based phone system may be a no-brainer, deciding on what solution is right for you is not. Instead of just going with a big-box provider, organizations should take the time to map out their business requirements and prioritize must-have features. They should then start talking to providers and evaluating everything from equipment, installation, and service costs to security features. Keep these questions in mind as you look at your options.
- What other costs are involved besides the subscription? When migrating to VoIP, business owners fail to realize additional charges on top of quoted monthly subscription costs. That’s because upgrading fixed lines or onsite PBX phone systems can require purchasing new equipment, including new phones or routers that can support direct IP phone connections. The VoIP provider or technology partner may also need some installation or setup costs. The good news is that businesses that ditch copper line-based systems or in-house PBX and move to hosted VoIP don’t have to set up equipment at all office locations. It’s a centrally managed system, so companies often big compared to what they currently pay each month. There are also no ‘long distance’ phone costs, and companies can select plans to support their specific requirements. Organizations often report big-time cost benefits of switching to VoIP systems, whether a high-volume call center or pay-as-you-go pricing model terms.
- What security protections are in place? An effective cloud phone system should protect a wide range of fraud attempts and malware by encrypting all traffic. Vulnerability scans are also helpful to check for data breaches or other security threats that may have otherwise gone undetected. Businesses should evaluate providers’ commitment to security and security experts’ availability to respond to potential violations immediately.
- What are business continuity plans in place? As we all know, there’s no good time for downtime. The advantage of a VoIP business phone system is that there’s built-in redundancy into the cloud-based system. When hosted internally onsite, components are not centralized, and equipment, hardware, and data are geographically diverse and managed in a secure data center. Suppose your company experiences on-site floods, fire, mechanical failure, or other natural or human-made disasters. The IP-based phone system won’t be impacted. In addition to built-in business continuity capabilities, ask provides what additional protections they have. For instance, in the unlikely event of a disaster at the data center, make sure customer calls can be automatically routed and re-directed. Ask what happens when one component fails; will another one will pick up the workload? These business failover features can give companies additional peace of mind knowing communication lines will still be open during an unforeseen event.
- Can I still fax? Sometimes overlooked in discussions about hosted PBX and VoIP is inquires about faxing services. Several verticals such as healthcare, law firms, and financial industries still rely heavily on frequent multi-page faxing. Sometimes fax machines are ‘too fast’ to use on VoIP and may require manual settings adjustments. Other providers offer alternative ‘electronic or internet faxing services.’ These services allow fax communication without an actual fax machine at either or both ends. It includes scanning documents and sending them via email in a PDF format.
Cloud-hosted communication systems have many benefits compared to legacy phone systems. IP-based phone systems are more cost-effective, can be managed from one online platform, and they also give employees the freedom to take and make business calls from anywhere. If your company considers cloud-hosted business phone services, it’s critical to ask intelligent questions early to avoid unexpected problems down the road.