1. Are your growing or scaling back?

Organizations that are growing are better off choosing a hosted managed VoIP service provider. Such a provider has the ability to keep up with ongoing and frequent technological changes. This way your service won’t constantly be interrupted and you won’t always need to install new software or download new updates. Organizations that are scaling back their operations may benefit from cost savings via a basic on-site VoIP system – in such a case it is important though to have a budget to cover ongoing support.

Main criteria that experienced buyers state for selecting a vendor:

  1. ‘cost of the solution’ (23.1%)
  2. ‘reputation of vendor’ (20.5%)
  3. ‘Level of customization offered by vendor’ (10.3%)

2. Are you dependent on phones?

Basic on-site VoIP service providers are perfectly suitable for businesses where revenue isn’t directly linked to the use of telephones. However, if your business is dependent on continuous communication between employees, clients, partners, suppliers, prospects etc... then a managed cloud phone service is a better choice, as such a service ensures better call quality, security and reliability.

Take a look at those sectors and departments who typically depend on quality phone systems:

Sectors:

  • Financial services
  • Staffing & recruitment
  • Business services
  • Legal services
  • Real estate
  • Not-for-profit
  • Medical
  • Retail

Organizational departments:

  • Sales
  • Professional services
  • Customer service
  • Account management
  • Public relations

3. Do you operate across multiple locations?

It doesn’t matter whether your office locations are distributed across a single city or across two dozen countries – in such situations you probably require multi-location phone management, scalability, and mobility capabilities for your staff to work remotely or on-the-go, and other powerful advanced functionalities that only a managed cloud phone providers can deliver.

Did you know that Starbucks has added an average of two stores on a daily basis since 1987?

4. Do you need advanced phone features?

The vast majority of VoIP systems come with the standard call management functionalities, such as voicemail, caller ID, and conferencing. For more advanced features, managed VoIP service providers are the better choice: contact center call queuing, interactive voice response, computer telephony integration (CTI), multimedia recording, and mobile phone management are just the start. If your organization required more than the basics, a managed hosted VoIP system is the smarter choice.

Here’s how purchasers of VoIP rate the importance of advanced features (scale of 1 to 5 – low to high):

  1. Scalability - 4.5
  2. Centralized administration and branch office support - 4.5
  3. Advanced call routing - 3.8
  4. Call queue management - 3.6
  5. Integration with Outlook email - 3.6
  6. Advanced reporting - 3.6
  7. Advanced call groups - 3.2
  8. Integration with other business applications - 2.9
  9. Advanced integrated voice response (IVR) - 2.8
  10. Advanced call monitoring and barge in - 2.8

5. Do you have the time, skills and resources to manage a phone system yourself?

When you select a basic on-site VoIP system, you need your own staff to install and set up phones and update, maintain and troubleshoot the system. This means you will need skilled IT staff and dedicated budgets and resources (including time) to manage the system yourself. This does not apply to signing up with a managed hosted VoIP provider, who will look after expert installation, and deliver ongoing system support and automatic software upgrades. Furthermore, a managed VoIP provider will add new licenses and services for you without limit.

Did you know, that on average IT staff spent 35% of their time correcting issues with existing hard- and software?

6. Do you need your phone system to generate revenue?

For many organizations, a phone system is directly linked to revenue generation. Managed hosted VoIP systems have the advantage that they can be integrated with business process applications such as client relationship management (CRM), Document Circulation Management (DCM) or Human Resource Management (HRM). Managed solutions can also help process data towards a wide range of revenue-relevant business improvement activities such as evaluating staff performance, improving internal and ecternal SLA, optimizing workforce scheduling, managing marketing spend or analyzing customer behaviors.

Here are some insights into how the most significant IT challenges for SMEs are still to do with data quality and integration:

  • Only 40% of SMEs reported seamless prospect data sharing between finance and sales, and finance and marketing
  • Only 41% Of SMEs reported seamless sharing between finance and marketing, and finance and customer services
  • Only 43% Of SMEs reported seamless sharing of customer data between finance and sales
  • 60% still report great difficulties or failure in their efforts to seamlessly share data

7. Does your staff need to be mobile?

Basic VoIP delivers all the standard benefits of internet telephony just fine, if your business is built around static offices. However, if your staff is on the go, the mobile and remote telephony management services offered by a managed cloud VoIP service provider is a much better choice. Managed hosted VoIP solutions allow you to transfer calls from anywhere, with any type of phone you choose to use at the time, including desk phone, computer, or mobile.

Did you know that in the United States, 20-30 million people work from home at least once a week?

8. Do you generally thrive on the latest technology?

One great differentiator about cloud-based technology is that you are easily updated and never have to worry about the latest upgrade or version. The speed and ease which you are able to access the latest and greatest depends on whether you choose basic or managed VoIP. As discussed earlier, basic VoIP requires an approach where you and your organization are responsible for all the updates and upgrades for your hard- and software upgrades. Managed VoIP handle all hardware and software upgrades for you.

How is this for a fact: As a rule of thumb an organization replaces a legacy phone system only about once every seven years.

9. How do find the most appropriate VoIP provider?

To identify a VoIP phone service provider who is able to support the unique business & technological needs and the way your business operates, you must make use of technology, service and vision to benchmark potential service providers.

Do ask each considered vendor about details of their technology and how deal with issues, upgrades and their client’s subsequent growth requirements. Also research the reputation of the provider and what others say: do they stay on top of new developments as a rule or have they occasionally or frequently fallen behind? Would they be classified as visionary or as reactionary?

Here are the most important criteria stated by purchasers when sourcing a phone solution:

  1. Reliability & performance - 50%
  2. Best support & customer service - 13.5 %
  3. Lowest total cost - 13.5%
  4. Easy to implement and maintain - 11.5%
  5. Meeting specific requirements & feature needs - 3.8%
  6. Compelling product road map - 1.9%
  7. Others - 11.5%