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  How to Select the Right Technology and Supplier for Business Phone Systems  
     
 
You'll need to take a targeted approach if you want to identify the unique needs of your business and select a suitable phone system to address those needs, as well as leave room for future enhancements.
 
Architecture: The right architecture must ensure readiness for IP and unified communications and enough agility to assimilate future advances in technology. A less complex solution is always more desirable, so ensure that your supplier understands your need for simplicity. It’s easier and less expensive for your own IT to handle the system after installation. Beware of hidden costs in this area particularly: ask for a complete breakdown of costs in the quote
 
Sizing: An obvious yet critical issue. Sizing a phone system according to your needs and the future requirements of a growing business should be evaluated both internally and in collaboration with your supplier. How many lines, extensions, ports and so on should be clarified, as well as the cost of adding new ones.
 
Avoid "Lock-In": Vendors attempt to lock you in to their hardware and software by bundling the system, thus making it inflexible. This means your IT manager is unable to take advantage of future advancements offered by other players, and may ultimately decrease the competitiveness of your business. Look for suppliers and systems that offer flexibility and the ability to interchange components.
 
Convergence and Infrastructure: Any business realises the importance of quick and reliable communication, whether internal or external. The cost benefits of unified communications are manifold, in terms of increased employee productivity, reduced response time and ease of communications. When considering convergence, keep in mind infrastructure (including switches, security, hubs, and routers) and its associated costs. For a brand-new project, a system based on VoIP may be a better choice; while for a company that's already invested in a legacy system infrastructure, it may be more advisable to look for a converged solution that works with existing infrastructure.
 
Return on Investment: Implementing a new technology can be expensive, and it is essential to migrate at the correct time, keeping in mind your business strategy. For the costs incurred, the resulting savings must be weighed and the project's return on investment (ROI) must be calculated. Technology shouldn't be implemented for its own sake, so benefits in purely financial terms must also outweigh costs. The ROI for voice and communication services must be considered separately from other converged service applications. Do this for each of your short-listed systems.  
 
     
 
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