So, you’re looking for a new business telephone system. Perhaps you’re setting up a new office or, perhaps, it’s time to upgrade your outdated system. Whatever the reason, it’s likely that you’ve started searching and discovered that there’s a bewildering array of choice available – various brands, different technologies and an endless list of possible features, all of which vary substantially in cost and between different providers. How are you ever supposed to decide on the right option for your business? We offer some pointers to help you compare business telephone systems and make the right choice…
Before you begin comparing phone systems…
Decide what it is that you need and this will narrow down your choices. Consider the size of your business, how you operate, your budget and likely future requirements (you don’t want to buy a system that will be no good a year or two down the line!). Consider the following points and make a list:
- If you already own a phone system, what is it lacking?
- How many business telephone lines, extensions and handsets do you need?
- Which features are a must-have and are there more that are desirable?
- Do you operate across multiple sites, including separate offices, mobile and remote workers?
- Do you need additional software such as call management and call recording?
- Is your business likely to grow in the next few years and, if so, how much?
- What is your maximum budget?
Once you have made your list, you will find that the choices are reduced to a manageable number of phone systems as the others are not suitable for your needs. You can then begin deciding which of the remaining options will be the best investment for your company. At this stage, you can either approach a provider and ask them to make a recommendation or you can do some further research and decide which system is best before you go on to compare providers.
Voice technology has evolved considerably over the past few years. When comparing business telephone systems, you will notice that the technology can differ substantially between different systems. The main thing to consider is whether you want to stick with the more traditional PBX phone system that requires conventional business telephone lines, or move to the more modern VoIP technology. VoIP enables voice calls over your internet connection, instead of the traditional phone lines. Many businesses are transitioning to VoIP because the technology has many advantages over traditional phone systems, not least the ability to reduce your call costs substantially.
VoIP is a viable option for most businesses, but those located in areas that suffer from poor internet connectivity would be best to stick with a PBX system, at least for the next few years until high-speed internet connectivity is available in the area.
If you are considering a VoIP phone system, you will need to decide whether you are going to opt for an in-house or hosted phone system. A hosted VoIP phone system can bring further benefits, beyond the benefits offered by VoIP in general. A hosted system is owned and managed by the provider, which is also responsible for all ongoing support and maintenance work. This offloads the burden of technical management and can often result in increased reliability and uptime. But, you won’t actually own the equipment and will have to pay a monthly fee for the service, which is typically charged on a per-user basis. Because of this, hosted phone systems tend to work out much better value for money for small to medium businesses.
There are also some phone systems available that offer both traditional and VoIP capabilities. These are a good option for those that are not quite ready to move to full VoIP, but plan to do so in the future. Several of the NEC telephone systems, for example, offer this capability.
The number of useful features available with business phone systems is constantly increasing. Having made your list, you will know which features are a must-have and might even have some idea about additional features you think your business could benefit from. There’s probably a great number of features that you’re not sure about, however. You may have heard of them, but may not be sure what they actually do. These days, there are some pretty clever phone system features that have real business enhancing potential. It’s worth doing a bit of extra research to make sure you’re clued up about the different features on offer.
It’s important to make sure that you get the most out of your budget. Make sure that your business phone system shortlist includes options that offer a reasonable level of scalability and all of the features that you need, as a bare minimum. When comparing phone systems, make sure that you also compare providers as you will notice that quotes can vary substantially. Ensure that the quote you receive is for the phone system and the cost of installation as you don’t want to encounter any hidden costs. A good provider will take the time to listen to your needs and make recommendations, or even tailor comprehensive solutions to make sure the solution you are offered is the best option for your business.