Key challenges for small businesses and enterprises alike include scaling the allocation of human resources and improving communications and efficiency. To facilitate the success of each of these efforts, consider upgrading your business communication system — but consider carefully. Is it the right time? How will you know? And if you decide it is time, which system will you choose?
A Brand New Business Communication System? For Me?
Investing in new infrastructure or in an upgrade is a big decision. So how can you tell if it's the right one?
"This isn't a hard and fast rule, but if you're keeping in touch with the demands of your customers, you'll be able to tell when it's time," says Jim Tynan, Twinstate's VP of Sales.
"Are your customers looking for contact beyond the normal hours? Do your employees need to keep in contact using more than just a phone call? And what are the demands of the market, in terms of your customers reaching out?"
Your internal and external communication needs are truly the only indicators you need. If you need better access to your employees, are experiencing less desk time (which a vast percentage of organizations are), know that your workforce is growing more mobile, understand that your customer base is looking for contact channel choice and variety, and feel like you're not ready to respond? It's time to look into an upgrade.
An even less firm indicator, but one that can propel you forward in your research, is the change to other systems in and around your business. Think about what you were using for a computer or cell phone during your last business communications upgrade. Have you upgraded that device since? Probably. Consider that there have been just as many significant enhancements to technologies in office phone systems as there have been to cell phones and PCs.
Exploring the Options
When you're ready to upgrade, you don't have to throw out what already works.
"You can still leverage what you already have," says Tynan. "You could augment a data system by adding on applications and making them work together. For example, you could keep your core phone system and enhance it through applications."
Cost and Equipment
In dated models, you would have had to choose only physical equipment to accomplish better communications, meaning you would tend to overbuy to protect yourself. There would always be a break point, explains Tynan; you'd need a new card or chassis or power supply.
"But now that we're in a software driver, license-based application world, there aren't those physical barriers anymore," says Tynan. "It's easy for you to get into a system that will give you 200 to 400 percent growth without reinvesting."
That means you'll want to think about how much you actually should invest in future proofing and how much you want to invest in managed services and subscription based licensed applications for X number of users. Either way, the shift in focus from physical infrastructure to software means you don't have to worry about being caught off guard with surprise capital investments.
Timeframe and scope
Before choosing a provider, you'll also want to consider the timeframe for installation and implementation of a new system. A turnaround time of four to six weeks could vary greatly depending on the scope of work. If you don't already have a separate project started that ensures your network is ready to accept any of the changes this new business communication system may bring its way, get started now.
If you prefer to choose a hosted solution, you could expect a five to six day turnaround, says Tynan. "When everything is viable and up and running, (a provider) doesn't have to come in and develop a full infrastructure," he notes, meaning you'll see a shorter ramp-up time.
If You're Ready
If you've examined your customer and market demands, as well as your internal communication needs, and you've found that you aren't adequately meeting those demands and needs with your current communications solutions, then yes, it's time for an upgrade. Think about the size and budget of your project, and what other projects you'll need to create in order to support it. Then you'll be ready to dive into the search for a partner.