With all this news about hardware companies going out of business, you should really start looking at the cloud. If you’re worried about the longevity of the PBX company, that’s understandable. At the moment, Avaya, Toshiba, and other phone manufacturers are scrambling, but not to worry, your phone will still work.
However, if you've been sitting on the sideline waiting to upgrade to the latest suite of collaboration and video/web conferencing, this may be the push you need. Here are some suggestions on how to approach this new opportunity.
Assess Your Contract
Review your contract and determine where you are in your lifecycle. Do you have any scheduled maintenance planned or needed? What version of the system are you on? Are you up-to-date with your patches? What type of hardware inventory do you currently have in terms of handsets, desk phones, etc? Do you know if you still have the support needed from your existing manufacturer? Assess the damage before you jump to damage control.
This is an opportunity to get organized, eliminate the old way of working, and reduce the clutter from your existing cubicles. It may be time to refresh and consolidate users’ technology to the latest collaboration tools. Check to make sure you know:
- Needs and wants for communication systems
- How your team collaborates
- How many are in the office regularly
- If any offices need to rethink their space
Audit All of your Systems
Auditing your systems is an important step to get the most out of your workspace. Having multiple, disparate systems is cumbersome and inefficient. The solution to this problem is integrated technology. With integrated technology, the idea of one device providing multiple connection options to collaborate can be a reality for your workspace. Your workspace can be easily integrated with your phone, chat, and allow you to share files all in the same space. Many providers have a plethora of solutions including integrated call center and project workspaces which combine into a unified communication solution. Are you an Office 365 shop? Several of these same providers also offer the Office 365 and Skype 4 Business Integration. Integrating your technology can make your work more convenient and accessible.
Know your Options
Now that you’re considering switching to a new provider, you should lay out your wish list. Outline the requirements that you can't live without. Find the best providers by getting several quotes, and feel free to test drive a new option. Understand that easy integration is essential and that you need a provider that will customize a solution to meet all of your needs. A great way to start your integration journey is to send an RFP. This will allow multiple vendors the opportunity to respond and outline proposed paths to move forward. Once you know what you need, and know who can provide these services, you have a validated view of the options.
Move as fast or as slow as you want, BUT MOVE
Start now. Research, talk to your agent, and start to survey your employees. You may have a variety of legacy systems that you can start consolidating to reduce your overall costs. Who can benefit from new features and services, and go from there. This is a good time for some spring cleaning and transforming to a new way of working. Even if you go slowly, start your discovery now so that you can have the information and tools you need to make a decision.
Choose a Path and then Execute
Weigh the proposals against your company’s needs and wants to determine the most optimal path forward. Look at capabilities, costs, and ease of deployment. Use the number of systems it can replace as part of your justification and proposal to your management. Choose a path and execute it.
The Silver Lining
Unfortunately, PBX providers are going through difficult times, and you have to rework your phone system; however, this can be a catalyst for positive change. After all, you probably haven't looked for a new solution for the past 5 years or more because things were working just fine. Now that things are broken, you have an opportunity to fix them. Reduce your hardware and focus on the features of integrated collaboration, voice, workspace, etc. This can result in reduced rents, easier communication, and increased engagement of mobile staff which will help your company run more smoothly. Don't worry about the bankruptcy, embrace the opportunity. The cloud is making the task of moving to an integrated solution easier. Start playing with all of those “neat tools” and find the solution that integrates your systems and best works with your team.