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We take a look at what’s involved when looking to move from a traditional in-house phone system to VoIP, alongside the benefits it’ll offer your business.

Office phone systems have undergone somewhat of a revolution over recent years. When once upon a time it was the analogue PBX (private branch exchange) that dominated office phone systems around the globe, now, more and more, the most common system that you will find in place is VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol).

There are a couple of reasons for this. Firstly, PBX systems have always been associated with high capital expenditure, as well as being resource-heavy to run and maintain (often by full-time in-house IT teams). The cost of this communications solution was so much, in fact, that it was largely thought of as the sole reserve of large corporations for many a decade when the technology first emerged.

Secondly, it is only relatively recently that VoIP technology has reached a stage where it is considered to be on a par with PBX in terms of security and reliability. But that time is now well and truly here.

VoIP is generally a much cheaper solution to implement and maintain than PBX, suiting an OPEX model over CAPEX, which is one of the main reasons that it is so popular amongst SMEs and start-ups in particular. What is more, VoIP and hosted phone systems have now evolved to enterprise class, and are proving to be even more reliable than the good old analogue solutions of the past.

No longer big business technology, SMEs are now in a position to invest in a phone system that is equal to even their largest of competitors. VoIP has democratised communications solutions, and will soon no doubt unequivocally dominate the communications industry (there are, of course, still many legacy PBX systems in place in offices around the world, so, for the time being at least, both are still quite actively present).

A brief history of VoIP

Although it has only been relatively recently that VoIP has managed to make a significant stamp on the communications industry, the technology has in fact been around for two decades.

VoIP began in February 1995 by small Israeli company called Vocaltec, inc. They created a product – the InternetPhone – which, for the first time ever, allowed one user to make a phone call to another over the internet using only a microphone and a set of speakers.

Pretty soon, PC-to-phone and phone-to-phone VoIP system solutions began to appear on the market. The thing that made these types of calls so appealing was that they could be marketed as being ‘free’ for anybody with an internet connection (although in the early stages users were obliged to listen to set of commercials before their calls were connected).

From here, just as with the internet itself, VoIP only managed to make moves very gradually in the communications market, and it wasn’t really until around 2003, with the arrival of broadband and leased lines, that both the internet and VoIP really started to take off.

Nowadays, SMEs and large corporations alike are making full use of VoIP technology. This is down to a clear set of benefits that using VoIP brings to a business, so let’s take a closer look at exactly what those benefits are.

The benefits of VoIP

  • One of the most attractive elements of VoIP for any sized business is of course the cost factor. VoIP utilises the power of the internet to connect calls – and it’s safe to say that nearly all businesses these days are live on the web already. This means that, in the first instance, there are no additional cabling costs for a company which needs to interconnect all of their phones in the building – and this is something that can actually be a real hidden cost, especially for the fresh-faced start-up.

    Using VoIP also means that cross-site call charges are eradicated. This can be of great economic benefit if your company deals with customers or has branches all over the world – no long distance additional fees.

  • Today there rarely exists a business that is run entirely from a centralised location. Field teams and remote or home workers are the norm in the current business world. And here is where VoIP platforms come swinging in to the rescue again. Your VoIP system can be configured so that it connects with mobiles and tablets alongside any office phones or computers, providing almost unlimited flexibility for businesses with personnel who perform their jobs away from the office, but still rely on communication.

Lower costs

One of the most attractive elements of VoIP for any sized business is of course the cost factor. VoIP utilises the power of the internet to connect calls – and it’s safe to say that nearly all businesses these days are live on the web already. This means that, in the first instance, there are no additional cabling costs for a company which needs to interconnect all of their phones in the building – and this is something that can actually be a real hidden cost, especially for the fresh-faced start-up.

Using VoIP also means that cross-site call charges are eradicated. This can be of great economic benefit if your company deals with customers or has branches all over the world – no long distance additional fees.

Configurable with mobiles and tablets

Today there rarely exists a business that is run entirely from a centralised location. Field teams and remote or home workers are the norm in the current business world. And here is where VoIP platforms come swinging in to the rescue again. Your VoIP system can be configured so that it connects with mobiles and tablets alongside any office phones or computers, providing almost unlimited flexibility for businesses with personnel who perform their jobs away from the office, but still rely on communication.

Other great features

VoIP also offers some really cool and valuable features that can benefit SMEs. For example:

  • Voicemail to email: This feature sends voicemail messages to a preferred email address. This is handy to pick up messages on the go, and for when callers leave their details.
  • Find me/follow me call routing: This is ideal for field workers. Users can twin their VoIP and mobile phones to give them one number anywhere, ensuring they can be found before the caller gets pushed to voicemail. Users can also direct calls to other numbers such as their home phone, or a colleague.
  • Music on hold: Keep your callers entertained whilst waiting with latest releases, or golden oldies (no elevator music please!)

Then of course there’s call screening, conferencing and auto attendant features that can all be utilised to great effect – it’s no wonder so many companies are making the migration to VoIP.

The great migration

If you’ve taken the decision to migrate from your old PBX system to VoIP, you will undoubtedly have done so with two kinds of savings in mind.

Firstly, savings your bills – using VoIP means that you will be utilising the internet to connect calls, which will cut out cabling costs and call charges, since you will of course, in this day and age, already have an internet connection.

Secondly, the money you will save in terms of efficiency and productivity – feature-rich VoIP will enable much more streamlined communications both with customers and between employees and departments in-house.

VoIP offers many benefits for users, as outlined above, and so it’s no wonder – especially since the technology has become more accessible and affordable for SMEs – that it’s now proving to be one of the most popular forms of communications system for businesses around the globe.

From PBX to VoIP

Perhaps it’s the case that the end of your PBX contract is approaching, and so that has further sparked your decision to migrate to VoIP. If this is you, then now is the time to start putting all the necessary things in place to try and make sure that the transition goes as smoothly as possible.

As with everything, the more you plan ahead, the more chance you have of ensuring that a better service will be achieved early on when the migration is finally complete.

What you will need in place during the migration

Expert support

As mentioned above, you will be committed to migrating to VoIP not least, I’m sure, because of the long-term savings that you will be making. With this in mind, you will probably be ready to work with telecoms professionals to ensure that it all goes smoothly – and if you’re not, then you should be.

Check your dates!

The last thing that you want to happen is to be out of service for any amount of time. So, take the time to make sure that your VoIP package is ordered to arrive in advance of your PBX expiration. You will also want to allow yourself a period of grace where you can perform tests on the new system before rolling it out fully (after which there is no going back!)

Make sure you have ordered enough hardware for what you need

Since you are having an upheaval, you may as well take the time to consider if the amount of phones you have in operation is enough to suit your business’s requirements. Are they strategically placed around the office for optimum productivity and privacy? Now is the time to get things organised, and your service provider should be able help you do that.

Allow for the possibility of some disruption

Whenever there’s something new that needs to be installed (or uninstalled for that matter), there is always a chance that there could be some disruption to the office space. Thankfully, telecoms experts such as Nomis Connections can ensure this disruption is kept to an absolute minimum – and even have tools available that can ensure the continuity of your business no matter what.

Allow time for employee training

You should also plan ahead for the time it will take to educate your office users on how to get the most out of the new VoIP system (your provider should be able to help you with this). Be sure to organize group training so the minimal amount of productivity is lost.

Are you thinking about making a migration to VoIP? Please get in touch if you require further advice, help or information about your business broadband service, or use our Get a Quote page to make contact with our dedicated team, who are on hand to give you an honest and professional no obligation consultation.