So Your Company Wants to Adopt VoIP… How Do You Know If Your Network Is Ready to Make the Transition?

While the cost savings and new applications of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) are rapidly attracting many small to mid-sized companies to this popular communication solution, it may come with a significant price to your network.  Not only must your network carry more traffic, but VoIP traffic demands very high performance and is more sensitive to normal network problems like delays and choppy communication.  Even modest levels of impairment, unnoticed by users of most data applications, will cause significant caller frustration and will not sit well with your customers, business partners, or even your own employees.

Before investing in a large-scale VoIP deployment or even in a small trial, you need to know how well your network infrastructure will handle the additional, quality-sensitive voice traffic.  Many seemingly well-planned trials encounter delay after delay, exceed cost estimates, and are eventually cancelled when the network proves unable to meet the unique requirements VoIP places on it.  However, these business issues can easily be avoided if your telecommunications provider properly assesses your network ahead of time to truly understand the scope and type of work required to ensure a successful transition to VoIP.

Gartner reports that 85% of networks are not ready for VoIP.  What’s even more shocking is that 75% of companies that do not perform a pre-implementation analysis of their network infrastructure will not realize a successful implementation.  These are astonishing statistics because without conducting a network assessment with a quality assessment tool, the potential for wasting time and money is extremely high.  In order to increase the likelihood of a successful VoIP implementation, an evaluation of the network must be properly executed and should include the following four steps.

  1. Pre-Deployment Assessment

The pre-deployment assessment step analyzes the current capabilities of the network, evaluates its ability to support VoIP, identifies potential problems, and determines the requirements needed to handle expected call traffic.  It is strongly recommended that the pre-deployment test is conducted prior to the purchase or installation of any VoIP equipment.  The analysis should include such items as bandwidth, utilization, jitter, throughput and latency.

  1. Post-Deployment Assessment

The purpose of the post-deployment assessment is to gain a complete understanding of VoIP quality and network efficiencies prior to turning it on.  This step determines the level of success and prevents issues with call quality or dropped calls.  Whenever new equipment is introduced to a network the chance for unexpected issues rises; therefore, it is critical that post-deployment assessment is not overlooked.  This assessment should be immediately performed so any changes can be made in a timely manner.

  1. Regular Maintenance Assessment

As you’re probably aware, your network is dynamic and constantly evolves.  New devices such as IP phones, laptops, switches, and routers are added or removed.  Whether it’s a minor change or a major one it will impact your network.  Therefore, it is important to re-evaluate your network regularly to identify any faults so they can be corrected as soon as possible.  Conducting ongoing assessments will help your organization increase quality, optimize system infrastructure, and reduce costs.

  1. Break/Fix Strategy

Unfortunately, unforeseen things may happen to a network that’s not readily identified by your IT department.  The situation may be brought to your company’s attention by a customer, an employee or business partner.  The Yankee Group has reported that some companies’ labor costs grew 30 to 40 percent with VoIP because of dealing with network problems.  Having a network assessment tool in place enables one to take action quickly, diagnose the problem, and resolve it, while minimizing its impact to the system as a whole.

Essentially, these four key steps have illustrated the primary objective and the many benefits of conducting network assessments.  Whether your company is about to take the plunge into VoIP or has already gone down that path, it is critical to deploy a tool that can accurately analyze your network.  Surprisingly, most companies overlook this integral component of the VoIP implementation process and the research clearly shows its negative impact.

As you tap into this relatively new communication solution that’s changing how business gets done, make sure you ask yourself this question.  What is my telecommunications provider doing to create a network environment that enables my company to take full advantage of VoIP? If network assessment is not included in the response then something is definitely wrong.

Prime Telecommunications wins 2015 Cloudy Award from Channel Partners

Channel Partners magazine, a resource for indirect sales channels offering IT and telecom solutions, is pleased to announce that Prime Telecommunications, Inc.  has been selected as a winner of the 2015 Cloudys Cloud Channel Innovation Awards.

Twenty-five winners were honored at a reception at Cloud Partners, a Channel Partners event, in Boston. These winners were featured in Channel Partners’ September digital issue.

“Winners of this year’s Cloudys awards run the gamut from IP telephony to shifting a customer’s entire IT infrastructure into the cloud,” said Lorna Garey, Editor-in-Chief of Channel Partners. “We have cloud brokers, desktop and backup as a service providers, and more. This program recognizes the array of business-focused cloud offerings that partners are delivering, and we were pleased to invite our innovators to share success stories with first-time Cloud Partners attendees.”

Prime Telecommunications partnered with Zultys and CTS Technology Solutions to provide a hybrid cloud solution for the Lyric Opera of Chicago that combined the Zultys Hosted Communications Solutions as well as an on premise Zultys MX system to provide integration with the analog sets on site as well as full back up and redundancy of functionality.

This is one of the first major implementations of the Hosted Zultys Cloud platform and an on premise chassis. It enables the use of SIP trunking, IP sets and analog sets across a single seamless platform. Now all users, whether analog or IP set based, have access to soft phone functions, voicemail to email integration and call center agent are able to use integrated functionality between their phones and their CRM for ticketing.

The Lyric Opera was able to use existing primary and secondary fiber bandwidth, element costly TDM circuits and fully integrate all users onto a single platform with enhanced functionality. The integration of Tessitura CRM software, Clearfly SIP trunking and Zultys Hosted Services as well as on premise Zultys hardware were instrumental in the deployment. Teams from CTS and Prime Telecommunications worked with the Lyric Opera IT department to successfully integrate all aspects of the cutover.

The Cloudys Awards were open to VARs, MSPs, agents, integrators and consultants. To determine the Cloudy winners, providers completed an application that asked them to demonstrate how they are used innovative cloud solutions to help customers grow their businesses.

Channel Partners editors evaluated and scored all applications to determine the 25 candidates that best exemplify the spirit of innovation.

 

 

5 Pain Points Found in SMB VoIP Deployments

Sometimes small and medium-sized businesses focus too much on cost and not enough on deployment details.

In deploying VoIP, small and medium-sized businesses often experience pain points in five critical areas, Adtran found in examining its Custom Extended Services deployments. The troubles crop up for a variety of reasons, from poor equipment choices to shoddy installation work.

Is Somebody Managing the Switch?
Large enterprises may take managed networks for granted, but to many SMBs the concept of a managed switch doesn’t take hold until comparing a $119 stripped-down appliance lacking in features and performance to a fully managed switch appliance costing $1,000 or more. Throw in Power over Ethernet (PoE) and associated costs, and many SMBs will ask, “Why should we pay so much for a switch?”

In the answer to that is an old problem: value-added resellers (VARs) installing cheap retail solutions. While these “trusted” partners initially may garner kudos for providing low-cost deployments, they aren’t really helping their customers in the long term. Unfortunately, issues will eventually surface for any number of reasons, including when customers attempt to deploy VoIP, call recording, or a local server supporting voice recognition. Trying to troubleshoot a LAN without managed switches is akin to chasing your tail — and this can become very costly as VARs bill for time and material.

When installing managed switches back in the mid 1990s, we used to tell customers they had 10 days to cancel their orders. None ever did, because the managed switches resolved the target issues; business owners place value on solutions that address their problems.

During this same era, we had arguments with plenty of IT and non-IT people about ripping out hubs and replacing infrastructure with managed switches. Today, the argument spills over to managed vs. non-managed, with the inaccurate but deep-rooted perception that a switch is just a switch.

Got Enough Capacity on That LAN?
Insufficient bandwidth certainly impacts SMBs with streaming video requirements, but a sluggish switch is going to bog down performance for low-bandwidth applications, too. An unmanaged switch is going to allow havoc to occur on that customer network, and the ability to isolate core problems greatly diminishes.

When these off-the-shelf unmanaged switches are uplinked to other retail appliances, problems compound. “A switch is just a switch” — well, no, it’s not. This argument from the IT perspective isn’t only lame, it is ill founded. How much backplane bandwidth a switch supports matters just as much as which features it includes.

Making cost the key consideration is where many SMBs err. They shouldn’t be evaluating on price alone, but factoring in considerations such as productivity and ability to operate on a network with a degree of consistency. A user experience that involves constant rebooting as a “fix” is not a good one. A managed network can boost productivity, streamline business processes, and improve customer relationships.

You Really Think Your Cabling Infrastructure Is Ready?
In some cases, Adtran found that SMBs thought their cabling infrastructures were ready when they weren’t. It would find, for example, that materials in use were not appropriate for the type of job or environment. With such errors comes problems like reverse polarity; in general, shoddy work on cabling infrastructure can end up costing an SMB in repairs and lead to lost revenue and even lost customers. Yet, it’s totally avoidable.

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Sometimes I find cabling infrastructure that’s not just not ready, but a mess of old and new layers of cabling added in over the years. Different contractors touching the cable plant coupled with bad work or inferior or misaligned products spell trouble.

One of my favorite cabling anecdotes involves the men’s room of a certain establishment — its telephone connections are vulnerable and the work is shoddy. Even more importantly, who would hang a network interface over the men’s room door?

How Much Value Is in That Low-End Solution?
Customers cite the benefit of being able to log in to their IP/SIP telephone sets from anywhere in the world, but when it comes to logging into their LAN infrastructure locally or from any other location there’s a gap. Unmanaged LANs are troublesome and carry security and other risks. On the other hand, a managed switch can help an SMB meet compliance mandates and lock down the network and endpoint assets.

Many retail locations utilize low-end Wi-Fi to serve customers; however, these often uplink to unmanaged switches and a poorly secured LAN. These companies are putting themselves at risk and, when security issues arise, they disconnect and abandon the Wi-Fi. They utilize off-the-shelf products and, again, trusted partners or IT staffers throw in low-cost solutions that result in high-end problems.

The value of logging into a telephone is highly overrated; how often do employees really need this capability, and what are the real benefits of providing it? If the answer were to save on expenses for moves, adds, and changes, then I’d question that because most phones in most SMBs remain static for years or at least until there’s a turnover. Even then, some SMBs simply don’t manage or pay to manage these changes, and many users simply don’t care so long as they can utilize the desk phone for what they want to accomplish.

Got the Right Power?
Adtran found switch ports suffering damage and other issues caused by the use of local power supplies for endpoints. This timeless problem is completely avoidable, too. Local power bricks create the potential for a wired lightning rod of sorts. Investing in a centralized managed PoE switch that is power protected and backed up with an uninterruptible power supply pays off.

These issues are real, but some SMBs with whom I’ve engaged head on at times don’t fully understand the need to address them and the benefits in doing so — until they experience low latency and high availability after deployment. Adtran offers free pre-sales engineering services, including heat mapping for Wi-Fi deployments, and this should entice the many if not the few SMBs that move from off-the-shelf appliances and step into solutions that managed PoE switches offer.

Adtran has incorporated power protection into its Netvanta 1550 series switches to prevent damaged ports from the numerous transients that occur on LAN infrastructures. LANs and local power infrastructure married together equate to increased risk and loss from local power disturbances. Unless you mitigate those risks you will continue to have losses.

The was originally published on NoJitter. As a service to our readers-I thought to repost it here. Matt Brunk did a good job writing about this. Here is the link to the original post! http://www.nojitter.com/post/240170322/5-pain-points-found-in-smb-voip-deployments

 

Stop Buying Technology…The Wrong Way!

There are a few things in life that will remain constant till the end of time.  They include death, taxes, and the ever-changing world of technology.  As soon as we make a technological purchase today it unfortunately becomes outdated tomorrow.  Ignoring your company for a moment just think about the last time you bought a car.  The moment it was driven off the lot the value dropped instantly by a few thousand dollars.  This same scenario occurs in every technological purchase made by a company.  As a result, more and more owners and chief financial officers are being slapped in the face with a basic business 101 concept – why buy a depreciating asset.

The method of buying technology on a lease agreement is not new or even earth shattering.  Historically, both business communications providers and equipment manufacturers have offered leasing options.  However, within the last year or so, subtle changes by a select group of providers across the country have made leasing versus buying the right decision for any business.  These changes have eliminated technology’s two greatest risks – obsolescence and price (also known as outright ownership).

Voice and data communications is the heart and life-blood of every company and having the latest technology has a major impact on an organization’s efficiency, profitability, and competitiveness.  As a result, Prime Telecommunications launched the Prime Simple IP – Current Technology Assurance Plan (C-TAP) with the assistance of Technology Assurance Group (TAG), an organization of independently owned North American business communications providers with combined revenue of over $400 million in voice and data products and applications.

C-TAP ensures that the communications environments are refreshed with the latest advancements and value added solutions, thereby eliminating technology’s obsolescence.  For instance, updates (also known as refresh) to a company’s voice and data system can occur anytime after 24 months with no change in their monthly payment.  Additionally, both labor charges and software upgrades are waived.  If a product was purchased the old fashioned way from say Cisco or Avaya the business owner would get hit with thousands of dollars in software upgrade expenses.  A program like C-TAP prevents this type of situation.

Here’s a simple example that illustrates how C-TAP works. Companies are losing significant amounts of money on a daily basis because they don’t have sufficient technology to effectively manage their organizations.  For example, many businesses do not have data back up, message on hold, or unified messaging while others are utilizing antiquated desktop PCs.  Under C-TAP, companies that could not afford this technology before can now simply add it with no change in their monthly commitment.

Furthermore, C-TAP focuses on the cost of technology rather than its price, thus eliminating the second risk.  This is a mind set change for owners and many business communications providers not engaged in a program of this sort.  Because of C-TAP, companies are able to transfer technology costs from a capital expense to a fixed monthly expense absorbed by an organization’s operating budget.  This enhances the financial health from both tax and budgeting standpoints.

Programs like C-TAP have changed the way technology is purchased now and forever.  It has successfully eliminated the traditional risks associated with technology –  obsolescence and price.  By taking control of the purchase process in this manner, the owner is finally experiencing a true win for their business because they now have the means that will increase profitability, while giving them a competitive advantage in their marketplace.

The True Pros & Cons of VoIP for Your Business

Over the last several years, great strides have been made to improve communication capabilities through Hosted Voice over IP (VoIP) solutions—a series of transmission capabilities that make communication over the Internet possible. This cloud-based phone system not only provides significant cost savings and superior flexibility, but also offers businesses of all sizes productivity, mobility and functionality features that are unmatched by traditional telephony.

What is VoIP?

VoIP converts analog audio signals into digital data, which can then be transmitted over the Internet. Implementing a VoIP system eliminates the pressures and costs of managing and maintaining a PBX, while giving your employees enterprise-grade features and other common features, including:

  • Voicemail
  • Call waiting
  • Toll-free numbers
  • Call forwarding
  • Visual voicemail (voicemail to email transcription)
  • Simultaneous and sequential ring
  • Audio conferencing
  • Auto attendant
  • Call Recording

Additional features are also available that allow users to specify how incoming calls are routed and/or forwarded, ensuring no important calls are missed. Furthermore, employees can make and receive phone calls on their cell phones through various mobility features through the VoIP business number. This means that VoIP long-distance calling plans can be utilized while working remotely, even from a mobile phone.

Scalability and Flexibility

Utilizing VoIP means that even as a company grows, there is no need to worry about installing new phone lines. Instead, businesses can use their existing broadband and simply purchase new handsets as needed.

In addition to scalability, the flexibility of VoIP is also a unique benefit. Since VoIP phone systems work through computer-to-computer connections, users can make calls and hold conversations anywhere there is an Internet connection. In addition to audio calls, VoIP also allows for video conferencing, meaning businesses can stay in touch with their employees or clients, regardless of their location.

Cost

When it comes to cost, VoIP is a winner. Most VoIP services are offered through a subscription-based cost model, allowing businesses to purchase only what they need, and then allocate funds that would normally be spent on traditional phone expenses to other parts of the business. Additionally, VoIP runs on the same network as the data, versus traditional phone packages that require businesses to manage separate networks and hardware for voice and data. This not only brings considerable cost savings and streamlines management, but also delivers more efficient communications.

Reliability

While VoIP can certainly increase productivity, efficiency and collaboration efforts, reliability is a common drawback – especially if you frequently experience downtime or hiccups with your Internet. These types of issues can cause users to experience latency, jitter, and packet loss during VoIP conversations. Doing your home and finding the right provider for your business needs is crucial in guaranteeing reliability.

The Bottom Line

When considering VoIP services, it’s important to understand how a service provider manages quality of service across their network, how features compare, if and how voice traffic is prioritized, and what kind of post-sales support you’ll receive. For more information, contact us today.

 

Small to Mid-Sized (SMBs) Businesses Deploy Mobile Workforces to Increase Sales and Productivity

 

According to a Cisco study, the growth of the mobile workforce has evolved from startups to enterprises and 3 out of every 5 workers say that they no longer need to be located in an office in order to be productive. With clear benefits in reduced rent costs, flexibility in scheduling, reduced employee commute times, environmental friendliness, improved employee morale, results-focused productivity and enhanced accountability, it’s no wonder that managers and employees alike are embracing the notion of the mobile workforce.

Perhaps the most compelling reason to embrace the idea of a remote workforce is that there is finally the capability for business owners to properly manage telecommuters through recent advances in technology. Also, the functionality of such technologies has matured to the point where they are reliable, simple and scalable.

One such feature that is quickly rising in popularity is called presence management. This technology enables a manager the same functionality as if they were in the same room as a remote worker, without actually needing to physically be there. Presence management technologies monitor employee location, track laptop activity, share availability and enable instant messaging for quick collaboration. In fact, presence management has gotten so precise that it can actually notify a manager when a remote worker has left his or her desk, is on the phone, or has taken a break to go to lunch. With managers constantly within an arm’s reach for assistance, this advancement completely eliminates the frustrating element of “phone tag” inherent in antiquated telecommuting environments.

Many of today’s businesses operate with a central folder on the Local Area Network (LAN) which stores all of the businesses key documents, spreadsheets, presentations and files. A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is one that enables remote workers to access all of the exact same files as if they were sitting at their desk in the office, through a secure and safe remote connection. With VPN access, remote workers can instantly collaborate with in-office or out-of-office coworkers, since they all have the same documents at their fingertips.

Furthermore, telecommuters can now leverage Desktop Optimization Centers (DOCs) which monitor, manage, enhance and fix remote laptops or desktops with ease. For example, regardless of location, an employee can call into a designated customer service line and get immediate assistance with any technical issues that arise. In fact, DOCs often solve computer issues much faster than in-house IT staff because of the inherent scalability associated with these firms and sheer number of technicians available. For example, if a computer crashes during an installation of new software program, an employee simply calls the technician and the technician remotely connects to the off-site computer and resolves the problem right in front of the employee’s eyes.

Lastly, call accounting, call forwarding and caller ID features have absolutely vital use-cases in the work-from-home environment. Sales managers can utilize simple call accounting software to track employee outreach, see how long employees spend on the phone, number of calls, and screen calls all the way down to specific words that are used. So, if a salesperson is never supposed to say “free,” a manager can know how many times that word was used. You now can have a remote workforce that essentially functions “under the same roof,” enhancing the customer experience. To the outside world, calls will sound the same to the end user whether that call is being answered at an employee’s home or in the boardroom.

When you have the same level of technology in the home office as you do in the corporate headquarters employees are able to save time on their daily commute, business owners can scale the organization more effectively by adding staff and everyone involved can enjoy increased flexibility and productivity. Now, business owners can leverage the talents and skill sets of people all over the world and it is our role at Prime Telecommunications to provide the technology and the guidance to get this accomplished.

Hang-Up on Your Traditional Telephone System: 3 Advantages of VoIP

Along with adopting cloud services, many businesses are taking advantage of progressive technological developments to further save money and allocate resources elsewhere. By implementing Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), businesses are enabling vocal communication over the Internet, and reaping the many benefits of the system.

In essence, VoIP—colloquially referred to as Internet telephony—is a series of transmission capabilities that facilitate communication over the Internet. The technology converts voice vibrations to compressed digital signals, and then transfers them into regular telephone signals—thus, playing the part of a conventional telephone.

But enough with the tech talk. Here are three quick tips that illustrate why VoIP services will make you want to hang-up on your traditional telephone system.

Costs Savings

The most obvious—and arguably most attractive—feature of VoIP is the money you will be saving from the get-go. For starters, moving away from public telephone networks makes long-distance calling affordable. VoIP also reduces the cost of equipment, manpower, lines, and maintenance. Despite the initial setup costs, businesses save immensely by managing only one network and not having to bear the financial burdens of a telephony system. Gone are the days of needing a team to manage your data network and your voice network.

Flexibility & Mobility               

Sure, VoIP increases savings by lowering your businesses initial communication costs. However, it does so much more. Internet telephony enables users to access software programs—think common features such as email, fax, and remote conferencing—over the Internet. In short, users can utilize voice services while accessing other applications simultaneously.

And what’s even better? VoIP users can use their adapters anywhere that Internet is offered, including their mobile phones. This is mobility, people—and a feature that is proving to be extremely relevant in a workforce that has become more mobile and remote.

Approachability

VoIP requires very little technical knowledge. In fact, the installation process is simple compared to traditional telephones. With VoIP systems, businesses are no longer required to use separate cabling (which also greatly reduces clutter and fire hazards associated with electrical wires!). Once installed, VoIP systems are easy to maintain—after all, the transfer of voice to digital signals requires no specialized hardware. Finally, VoIP is scalable, meaning that it’s simple to add extra components with very little hassle.

Sound enticing? These are only a few of the benefits of switching to VoIP services. Much like transferring to the cloud, making the switch to Internet telephony is a no-brainer. For more information, contact us today. old phone

KEEPING YOUR PHONES RINGING DURING A BUSINESS RELOCATION OR EXPANSION

Moving or expanding your company office can be a source of tremendous stress and upheaval — but it also offers an opportunity to upgrade and improve a variety of office features, including your telecommunications system.

Many businesses find that they have outgrown their phone system long before they outgrow their office space. When planning a move to a new or expanded office, it is important to examine all aspects of your telecommunications needs — number and location of phones, voice mail, structured cabling, voice and data integration — to ensure that your new system responds favorably to your present needs, and will be able to expand to accommodate future growth.

There are a number of vital considerations to help you plan effectively for a phone system relocation or expansion with the most important being — selecting the right partner to guide you through the process. By choosing a leading telecommunications provider your company can turn a stressful situation into an easy transition eliminating any interruption to your business. However, selecting an inexperienced partner will cost your organization time, money, and possibly some of your customers.

The following check list will help you through the relocation or expansion process so you can make sure you’ve identified the right company to keep your phones ringing with no interruption in service:

• Select A Telecommunications Provider With Experience, and Rely On Their Expertise. You should elect to work with a provider that has expertise at the installation, expansion and relocation of corporate phone systems. Does the provider design and install communications systems using the latest technology, including the integration of your office computers with your phone system. In addition to installing your phone system, will the provider consult with you on how your business can maximize your communications effectiveness?

• Communicate Your Expectations. Ask your communications provider to assist you in thinking your plans through on paper first, ensuring that the proper phone configuration is agreed upon prior to installation. Make sure that the provider will work with you to effectively implement any needed changes to your existing system, including adding voice mail or upgrading the phone switch. Be sure to obtain an accurate indication of the time requirements needed to make changes to your system.

• Design Now and Save Later. An experienced telecommunications partner will take the time to review your facility and electrical drawings, which will aide in developing a game plan. They should provide you with design input, space planning and a communications layout for your facilities’ entire structured cabling infrastructure. This should include drawings of specific technical components such as the equipment room, telephone system, voice mail, server configurations, overhead paging and music, wireless IP, and Internet access.

The key is making sure your provider builds a compact, easy-to-manage, centralized equipment room, which acts as the hub for your business. Ideally, you should receive a design that is flexible and one that can expand as your business grows. Poor designs will cost you every time you call your provider when you need to make even a minor change to your system.

Properly designed and implemented in the blueprint stage saves having to retrofit and issue change orders later, which can be extremely costly. Leading companies do not charge for consultative services or design input. This is something to think about as you select a partner.

• Set A Realistic Move Date. If you want to eliminate headaches give yourself considerable time to plan ahead prior to your move or expansion date. Unexpected events almost always cause delays, and your business will function more smoothly if your move occurs when everyone is ready, instead of in the midst of a last-minute “scramble.” You should work closely with a telecommunications systems provider to help you set a realistic schedule for your phone system implementation. This will allow you to alert your customers and vendors of any anticipated phone number changes well in advance of your move date.

• Prevent an Interruption in Service.For many businesses, the early installation of phone lines, Internet access and new equipment may be critical to having dual service and to providing your customers with uninterrupted service during the entire move. If your provider waits until the last minute to switchover and does not have a plan to provide redundant service then you know something is wrong. An interruption in service can have a lasting impact on any organization.

• Don’t Let Anything Fall Through the Cracks.You should contact your communications system provider and give them advanced notice prior to your move to schedule a complete analysis of your present and future phone needs. Due to the highly competitive nature of local, long-distance, and Internet service, this additional “shopping” time can result in substantial savings. A reliable partner will walk you through this process identifying areas to save money, especially if you find yourself pressed for time.

Finally, make sure you redirect all of your local, toll-free, and fax numbers. Order this work to be done far in advance of your move, because it is vital that this important service be fully operational on Day One in your new facility.

Selecting the right telecommunications partner can make a world of difference when taking on the challenge of relocation or expanding your current facility. Choose an experienced provider that can set up a game plan for you and give you a sense of security that the transition will be a success. Leading providers will eliminate any unforeseen headaches and make what could be seen as a daunting task an easy one. If you don’t, your business could ultimately be in big trouble.

Figuring out Total Cost of Ownership for an IP Phone solution

For more than a decade companies large and small have been taking advantage of the new IP-based communications solutions.  Being able to unify all your communications—voice, e-mail, Internet and more—delivers a wide range of advantages. But do those advantages really put dollars on your bottom line?  What is your true total cost of ownership (TCO)?

Using years of data to collect on thousands of IP implementations, the consulting firm Nemertes has come up with some answers.

Savings —IP telephony does produce some real hard dollar savings that you can take to the bank:

  • Wiring: By making it possible to consolidate Ethernet connections, IP systems typically deliver savings of about 40% on cabling costs in new buildings. Smart use of WiFi phones can cut the costs even further.
  • Administration: As a company grows and changes, the office communications system inevitably needs some TLC, e.g., moving, adding or changing extensions. IP-based systems are much less expensive when it comes to day-to-day administration. According to Nemertes, many companies have justified their entire IP telephony rollout on administrative savings alone.
  • Conferencing: Because IP systems have the ability to route a single call to multiple destinations simultaneously, this can eliminate the need for third-party conference call services, delivering a significant savings.
  • Centralizing servers:  By centralizing servers at the data center, organizations report savings in the number of servers they need to buy, along with reduced tools and resources to manage applications such as unified messaging, conferencing, and even the communications system itself.
  • Connecting offices: If you have multiple offices, linking them via SIP trunks as opposed to traditional PRI lines can save about 40% off the monthly circuit costs, though this varies based on calling requirements and the existing architecture.
  • Mobile costs: Companies with many mobile employees eliminate roaming charges by routing mobile calls through the IP system (typically this involves first calling a local number and routing the call from the IP PBX through the corporate WAN).
  • Staff: Many companies see savings in support staff, (i.e., using the automated attendant to replace a receptionist.)

Costs—IP systems aren’t all a one way street to savings—there are some extra costs.  According to Nemertes:

  • Getting started with IP telephony takes more effort—implementation costs during the first two years run higher than with traditional communications systems.
  • LAN upgrades –If you don’t have Power-Over-Ethernet switches on your LAN, you will need to get them. IP phone deployments typically require Power-Over-Ethernet switches to function in the event of a power failure. This can be an extra cost
  • Many companies don’t budget for voice quality management and monitoring tools, which Nemertes says is a mistake. These management and monitoring tools cost more upfront, but pay for themselves in efficiencies over the long run.

Softphones: A Killer App?
A key advantage of IP systems that is increasingly coming into focus is the ability to equip employees with a softphone. A softphone essentially duplicates the capabilities of a deskphone on the screen of a PC or laptop. You get a dialpad, buttons for Hold, Conference, Transfer, etc., plus you can easily see a directory of contacts. Add a USB headset and you have everything you need to handle all your calls—no need for a phone. In addition to being less expensive than a deskphone, the softphone/headset is ideal for employees who are on the move a lot and also makes it unnecessary to upgrade LAN switches for PoE. A big variable, however, is the cost of the headset. Some companies are fine with a $20 to $100 headset; others say they can only get by with a much more expensive model.

Which Vendor: 
The Nemertes report provided some vendor-specific cost data, primarily for Avaya and Cisco, the only two companies for which it had enough data. Based on several scenarios, Nemertes found Avaya’s annualized cost savings to be consistently higher than the competition. The Nemertes study is available at: https://bitly.com/Sa8Qn4+. We recommend trying both Allworx and SNET Hosted Solutions in calculating total cost of ownership. In case you’re interested, give us a call or send us an email – and we would be happy to work with you on your solution!

Awareness: Avaya Style

Mobile devices, the “Bring Your Own Device” phenomenon, remote and mobile workers, and the globalization of business are all trends that have made an impact on the work environment – but can lead to information overload.

With tens of thousands of emails and instant messages sent and received every year, the average worker must deal with assigning importance amid an increasingly complicated meeting schedule (both virtual and physical). In turn, meeting efficiency demands that the most up-to-date documents and other structured and unstructured content be available.

In the Avaya Labs, researchers have developed Avaya Awareness, an intelligent engine that tracks each worker’s collaboration activities and learns  who and what are relevant to each user over time.

While presence technology simply lets co-workers know whether you’ve moved your mouse or typed on your keyboard in the last five minutes, Avaya Awareness is a cornerstone of effective and efficient collaboration –  learning collaboration preferences and the contextual relationships between people, devices, applications and locations.

It’s as if every worker has a personal assistant; it’s highly aware of what’s needed, knows the relevant people needed for the meeting, the documents that need to be shared, the physical or virtual location of the meeting, and other activities, and relevant events and conversations that preceded the meeting.

Read more about how Avaya Awareness improves conferencing and collaboration in our white paper Awareness: Driving the Next Generation of Productivity by senior vice president and general manager of Avaya Applications and Emerging Technologies, Brett Shockley.