Top 10 List for a Successful VoIP Implementation
VoIP has the potential to transform any enterprise. It is inexpensive and offers advanced functionality. And yet, quite a few businesses hesitate to make the move and upgrade outdated technology. If you’re not familiar with VoIP, it’s easy to get confused about the VoIP Implementation process.
The most important thing to number is that you cannot rush into upgrading your phone system. It requires careful consideration, preparation, and planning. Let’s take a look at the Top 10 things to consider for a successful VoIP Implementation
Build your plan for a successful VoIP implementation
You need a project plan to properly set up a VoIP phone system. Every business has unique and specific requirements. What is right for another business may not be what is right for your business.
The plan should establish milestones, budgets, and responsibilities. The project plan for a larger business may involve multiple teams working in tandem. For a small business, the plan may be relatively simple.
The following items are important parts to consider as a part of the deployment plan:
Project scope of work (SOW)
What SOW means is that the project requires parameters regarding what is and what is not included. One business may limit the project by way of a simple upgrade while another may be interested in a complete overhaul.
Establish milestones for the completion of specific parts or phases of the project. This allows you to make planning adjustments earlier rather than later, while it is still possible to resolve mistakes and delays.
Mitigating risks and issues
Very few projects reach a completed state without running into a problem of some kind. It is, therefore, important to anticipate complications and issues. It’s better to be prepared than to be caught off-balance, attempting to solve the problem after it has occurred.
Determining needs before the VoIP Implementation
It’s easy to become overwhelmed in the sea of features available in VoIP system. But like with everything, you pay for what you want, so if you want every feature available, it may not be feasible with the available budget.
A good approach is to make two lists. The first list should include essential features for your business, and the second should be the nice-to-haves. It’s great if your service provider offers everything on both lists but not catastrophic if they don’t. Your goal should be to find a solution that offers all the features on your first list and within your budget.
Some of the features that should be on your first list include automated attendant, voicemail to email, conference calling and ring groups. These are features that any business will benefit from regardless of industry or size. Many of these features help a business to compete effectively and present a professional image to customers.
Network testing for VoIP readiness
We all understand that an Internet connection is needed to support cloud-based telephone systems. There are, however, other factors to consider, including the bandwidth to support the new voice traffic; the speed of the internet, keeping in mind that for VoIP, upload speed is as important as download speeds and is the network equipment (routers, switches, etc.) up to date or in need of replacing?
To find out if your network is ready for VoIP, you need to complete a proper assessment. The assessment includes elements such as capacity, speed, latency and equipment readiness. Older networking equipment may also be unable to handle the requirements for VoIP, including traffic management and power requirements of the desktop phones and may need to be replaced.
Quality of Service
Quality of Service (QoS) is a function of new data switches and is a key tool in order to manage voice and data traffic on the network. This tool has an important effect on the quality of the calls as voice traffic will be given priority on the network and not be squeezed out by the data traffic. This reduces the chance of calls being dropped and improves reliability and audio quality as well. You can also segregate voice traffic to a separate LAN for better performance and easier troubleshooting.
Latency is the time it takes for a data packet to travel from one point to another. Measuring latency is the key metric used to evaluate network performance. If latency is too high, there will be a delay between a user speaking and the other person hearing the words or may cause jitter, echoes and, in the worst cases, cutting out and dropped calls.
Jitter is the difference in the time delay between when the data packets or arriving at the remote end. If you are experiencing jitter, it means some packets are arriving later than others. It can lead to disjointed words and delays. A good way to contain jitter is to use a ‘’jitter buffer’’.
Packet loss is when data packets fail to reach the remote end at all. Since VoIP, unlike email, involves real-time conversations, even a 1% packet loss may lead to degraded audio quality.
The quickest, best, and easiest way to use VoIP is to purchase the service from a reputable VoIP service provider. Do your homework in order to find the best match for your business. Consider the following points before making a decision.
Reputation & Expertise
Always consider the reputation of the service provider. Successful candidates will have a long list of satisfied customers. Check out their reviews online and talk to their customers. Some providers specialize in specific vertical markets or certain size businesses. It is important to find one that syncs with your demographic.
This is often an under-considered aspect of the evaluation process. Remember that no matter the quality of service, you will need service and support on occasion and often at an inconvenient moment or time of day! It is how the provider responds to a problem that matters. Strong customer service and support come at a price, and it is almost always worth it.
Pricing and Availability of Features
Of course, features and cost are important considerations. As noted, you need a service provider that gives you essential features within your budget.
Get a Service Level Agreement (SLA) Before the VoIP Implementation
What is a service level agreement or better known as an SLA? It is a comprehensive document that outlines the provider’s responsibilities in the following key areas:
What is the service uptime? Many top providers offer 99.99% uptime as part of their SLA. But if your business depends on the phone system as being mission-critical, you might even want 99.999% or more!
How reliable is the service? How often does the provider perform maintenance? Will you receive regular updates regarding upgrades or updates to the solution?
Up to what level does the provider guarantee service quality. What measures do they implement to ensure this quality level is maintained.
The SLA is important since it holds the service provider accountable for any issues. Most vendors will also outline compensation for breaching the SLA terms. For instance, a vendor may say that they will refund a portion of the bill corresponding to downtime within a given period.
Install a Second Internet Connection
Why would you install a secondary Internet connection? Even though it adds to the recurring cost, it can act as a backup if needed. What happens if your main Internet is down? Then the telephones will not work unless the provider has an emergency failover plan in place for those instances. An important consideration.
Make sure your second connection is from a different internet service provider. It should also use a different technology, if possible. For instance, if your main Internet connection is to fiber, the backup may be via cable. This minimizes the odds that both services will go down at once, thus downing your phones.
Pay Close Attention to Security
Just as with any Internet-facing service, your phones need adequate protection. If you’re using hosted services, then your provider should take care of most security measures. But you should still know what your provider has in place to mitigate incidents. Common security issues include unauthorized users hijacking calls, listening in on conversations or using your phone system to make excessive long-distance calls.
Remember that hackers may get into the system from your end as well. All it takes is to have a user’s credentials stolen to compromise an entire network. Training and awareness go a long way to mitigate this particular security risk.
Porting the Phone Numbers
Make sure to select a vendor that can port your existing numbers. Most providers charge small fees to port numbers unless there are unique circumstances. Typically, this process does not take more than 10 business days, but again, there may be delays depending on the particulars of the implementation.
Test the System Before You Go Live
Once you have set up your system and the users are trained, you’re almost ready to go live. But first, ensure to test everything thoroughly! Ensure that calls connect as they should and that the automated menus are correct and that the call flows are working as planned. Users should not have issues connecting to internal or external numbers. Check that all features are working as they should be. You should also test call quality and speed. This is an important phase to solve problems before they cause unnecessary post-go-live issues that may impact your business.
Remember that no plan is infallible and that it is almost a certainty that a few issues will arise. But having made the plan and done the work, you will minimize back end headaches.
In conclusion, VoIP phone systems do not take an excessive amount of time to set up and deploy. Doing it right with the help of an experienced, professional organization will help ensure a successful project.
Our Customer Service is ready to answer your questions. Call us at 1-866-780-2022 to find the best solution for your company. We have extensive experience in VoIP Implementation for small and medium-sized businesses in Canada.
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