Voice over IP phone systems can offer many advantages to your business, but only if you plan your VoIP migration with the highest possible care.
The vast majority of people consider the phone as being their primary business communication tool. Since all members of your company are going to be affected by the migration to this new phone system, you should tackle the preparation of this transition with a measured approach, to ensure that it meets all of your operational needs.
Please find below several guidelines for the proper evaluation and implementation of an IP phone system:
Build a Team. Get all stakeholders, managers, end-users and IT specialists actively involved in the planning and evaluation process. The success of your project depends on the clear understanding of their needs and expectations. Have a project manager or a team leader oversee the evolution of this project and ensure that you meet all key deadlines and milestones.
Set Business Goals. Make these objectives as specific as possible. A few examples may include improving customer service, boosting productivity, enabling the seamless integration of multiple communication channels, and enhancing mobility.
Understand User Needs. Modern IP phone systems offer a wide range of useful features and benefits. Nonetheless, according to most surveys, a whopping 75 per cent of these features remain unused. A successful migration should involve surveying end-users to find out what are the features they need or want. There are a few favourite features such as four-digit extension dialling, conference call bridges, call routing, and three-way calling. More and more people seem to want a mobile client for the softphone.
Assess Network Requirements. Many parameters influence the delivery of the voice packets across your data network. Such parameters include but aren’t limited to bandwidth demands, cabling, firewall security settings, routing and switching capacities, and network interfaces. You can determine your network requirements, to prepare for the purchasing of additional equipment or upgrade components.
Assess Support Requirements. Even though you may already have network specialists in your organisation, beware that IP telephony calls for an entirely different set of skills. These experts need to have a good understanding and knowledge of significant routing protocols, Quality of Service parameters, and voice gateways, in addition to LAN/WAN implementation and configuration expertise.
Identify Potential Suppliers. After you’ve identified and documented all of the functional requirements, you have to go ahead and assess supplier quotations, to find the one that suits best your needs.
Create an Implementation Plan. The well-known 80/20 rule applies – assign 80 per cent for the preparation and 20 per cent for the installation itself. Start from your current network diagram and document the typical configuration of all the equipment you want to add. Have detailed plans for resolving any compatibility issues that may occur. Check that the power and cabling requirements are met.
Proceed to Implementation. Once you’re done with the preparation stage, install the hardware and configure the software. At this stage, your experts should set key protocols for prioritising voice traffic on the network, defining routing requirements, setting QoS metrics and adjust security measures to include also voice traffic.
Test, and then Test Again. You can avoid the propagation of configuration errors by setting up a pilot program aimed at stress testing the network before everything goes live. This enables you to detect and correct all problems in the early stage of the project. Next, proceed to a limited deployment to IT teams and key users, and only after that move on to an organisation-wide migration.
By choosing a solutions provider with proven expertise in designing, configuring and deploying IP phone systems you can enjoy a successful VoIP migration.