You’ve made the decision to replace your business PBX telephone system with a new VoIP phone service or system. With careful planning, the transition to VoIP can be painless.
Know your Network
First, make sure your network is ready. Starting with a quality network is important to the final outcome of the project. Know and correct any potential pitfalls such as infrastructure. Get the network recommendations of the VoIP provider and check your network to be sure it meets the requirements. Make any network changes ahead of time. If you need to upgrade anything on your network it is best to do so before the VoIP implementation, not at the same time. Check the security of the network and make any changes to that ahead of time as well. Many hosted service providers do much or all of the legwork for you, so you don’t have to. Some even include a dedicated high-speed Internet connection with their business phone service. We recommend you do a search for service using our business VoIP search page then request a free quote from a provider to get a free assessment.
Understand the Product
Educating yourself and your network staff on the new product will ensure a smooth transition. A good understanding of the VoIP product makes implementation easier. Have your vendor give you a live demonstration of the product, not just at the purchasing stage but also prior to implementation. If possible, have your vendor assign a specific implementation specialist to you for the duration of the project. This person should be able to give you answers on any technical questions that arise. Work with your vendor to decide product specifications such as specific telephone feature assignments. VoIP systems are feature rich so you will need to decide what features to implement. Remember that you can implement with fewer features initially and then add more features later, once you are used to the new system.
Manage the Transition
A well-managed project is important for a smooth transition. Assign yourself or someone in the organization the task of managing the switch. Hosted system providers will manage the project for you and keep the project in line each and every step of the way. If you are managing the project yourself, consider hiring a consultant to manage a larger sized project. You will still need to assign someone to work with the consultant on an ongoing basis, to answer questions and make decisions. The larger the business VoIP telephone system is, the more time the planning process will take. Ensure the use of a timeline system for tasks, such as Microsoft Project. Allow enough time for the details to be worked out. On smaller implementations start planning 3 to 6 months ahead of the proposed cutover. On larger projects, you may need up to a year. Set regular ongoing status meetings or conference calls to ensure the project stays on track.
Train Your Staff
For smaller implementations, comprehensive user guides are helpful to learn the phone features. Some VoIP based business telephone systems are so intuitive that a manual isn’t even produced. For medium to large systems, schedule telephone user training for your employees. See if your vendor can provide a trainer to spend time showing users how to use the new IP telephones. Training makes your staff comfortable with using the new phones and encourages them to like the new product. Many vendors can provide interactive user guides through your network. Try and choose a service with an intuitive design so that little or no training is required.
Final implementation is easy once the preliminary planning has been done. You can opt for a ‘flash cut’, which transitions your voice communications over to the new VoIP system in one night (or weekend for larger systems).
If you are experiencing trepidation about transitioning to the new system, try implementing in phases. You may be able to set up the system so that it has just several test phones working on it. These phones can be set up in a conference room or other central area where you and your staff can spend some time trying them out. Work out the details with your vendor.
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