Moving to a new business phone system takes proper planning and execution. Rushing to a decision can mean disastrous outcomes for your company if the options aren’t weighed and the proper system put in place. After all, phone systems are an investment – one that your company will need to live with for years. However, if you follow these six steps, you’ll be on track for success and when the system and communication is improved, you’ll be the hero.
1. Know the Terms
Chances are you’re in a contract. Review the original contract and verify the expiration date. Proper planning should begin 10-12 months before the expiration date of your contract. The first step is understanding what is and isn’t possible under your current agreement – what can be changed under contract and how much lead time is required for such changes? If you’re planning for the following year’s budget, don’t forget to include the new phone system on your list and be sure to mention that a new phone system doesn’t always mean there will be upfront capital expenses or increased costs.
2. Pick Your Team
There are several vendors and solutions and making the decision as to which will be able to assist you in your implementation is an important one. Your best bet is to form an internal team to be charged with assessing your company’s needs and weighing the options. Make sure your team members meet regularly and know the plan of action from the get-go, including expectations with regard to the final decision and their participation in the process.
3. Perform an Audit
With your new team in place, establish clear goals and objectives and evaluate how they align to the corporate vision and expectations. Is your current phone system helping or hindering you? What works? What doesn’t? Scrutinize your customer service processes. Does your current technology dictate how you perform certain functions? Review current costs as well, making sure to not just include the monthly phone bill, but energy costs, productivity losses, etc. Then create a list with the features, functionality, maintenance, and reliability that you wish to see in your next system.
4. Research the Option
With your list of desired functionality, have your team members perform an online search based on the key features you’ve identified, exploring vendor testimonials, online reviews, and analyst insights. Consider hiring a telecommunications partner to assist with evaluating and recommending a communications system that fits your company’s needs. You can also attend a webinar to learn more about available options in the market or request a lunch and learn that can speak to your needs or questions.
5. Vet the Vendors
Based on your research and the list of top vendors, begin to drill-down to see what the vendor’s capabilities are holistically – product, support, training, scalability, etc. Ask for a demo so you can see the system for yourself, how it will work, and verifying it can perform the functions you need it to. Don’t just listen to what they are saying, but consider what they aren’t saying too. Sometimes the devil is in the details. Ask what the typical implementation process might look like so your team can plan on the time needed and their involvement during the transition.
6. Prepare for Lift-Off
Depending on the decision you reach, whether that means renewing your existing contract or not, notify your current vendor of your plans. If you move to a new vendor, work closely with them to outline a plan that will ensure successful user adoption. Cushion a migration with enough time to solidify a smooth transition from one to the other. Communicate with other departments about the plan and timing so they can prepare for the new system’s implementation. From there, sign the new contract and consider your work done. Cheers to being well-prepared and thoughtful.
Consider Hilltop Technologies in your planning process. We have been helping our clients plan for and evaluate what systems are best for them since 1999, but our services don’t stop there. We also provide comprehensive training and support to ensure they are maximizing their system. Our certified team possesses top-notch expertise and is ready to help you no matter where you are in the planning process. Schedule a Lunch & Learn and see the latest phone systems in action. Need more information on possibilities? Contact us today.