VoIP is the newest, most modern form of business communication, superseding ISDN and digital communications and connectivity. VoIP makes better use of your existing broadband and data connection to make and receive calls.
VoIP is a great way to cut your business costs, but we understand that telephony can be a confusing market. So, we've compiled a list of 20 questions you should ask yourself before you think about upgrading, hopefully this helps you make the best decision for your business.
Just before we get into our questions, there are a couple of things to note. Be aware that there are two different types of business telephone system:
Whilst there are other types of telephone system, the two 'main types' are hosted VoIP and on-the-wall phone systems. An OTW system is often called a 'PBX' or 'switch' and a VoIP system is often called a 'Hosted PBX' or a 'Cloud PBX'. Both types of system have their advantages, and making the correct decision for your business can be tricky.
VoIP is the 'new kid on the block', and is fast outpacing the more traditional OTW systems, especially in multi-site businesses. But VoIP may not be the best option for you. So ask yourself these following 20 questions to get a better idea as to which solution is best for you and whether or not you should consider upgrading to VoIP...
A great place to start is to see what kind of broadband connection you have; fibre, leased line, ADSL, etc. By finding out which type of broadband you have, you can see if you're eligible for VoIP. VoIP does require a 'decent; internet connection and so finding out whether or not your business has fibre is a good place to start.
If your business doesn't have a fibre broadband connection, then you may wish to consider upgrading your broadband as well as your phone system. Fibre is readily available for most businesses and can be combined with a VoIP solution to give you a fully unified communications environment.
You should consider what your communication requirements are.
Make a list of your most important features (I'd say your top 5) and then find yourself a VoIP system that has all five of them (you could start by checking out our VoIP system features).
Maybe you're not sure what your requirement are. That's fine - we get many startup businesses come to us looking for their first system and they're often unsure as to what would be useful for them. That's fine, because we sit with them and go through what we feel might be useful for their business, using our wealth of experience.
We're not going to lie, VoIP's number one limiting factor is that it requires a decent broadband connection. As a guide, we recommend businesses have a minimum of 28Mbps download speed. This is because VoIP uses your broadband connection to make and receive calls, so a slow or poor connection means poor quality calls with dropouts.
If you have broadband slower than our recommended 28Mbps, then we would suggest either:
Not sure what your broadband speed is? You can check your broadband speed here.
If your business handles a very large volume of calls every day, then VoIP may not be the best option for you. Because VoIP uses your broadband connection, businesses with high call volume may find that they struggle to maintain high quality, unimpeded calls due to connectivity issues. However, this is only really an issue for very large businesses, as most businesses do not come close to these high call volumes.
But all is not lost. If you're set on VoIP, then there are solutions to help improve connectivity. We'd recommend a leased line, for businesses looking to make lots and lots of calls per day. This means you'd have a dedicated, uninterrupted internet connection that can keep up a high call volume and not suffer with dropouts or quality issues.
This question follows on nicely from the previous question. You should find out your bandwidth as this gives you a good idea as to how much call traffic your broadband connection can handle. More bandwidth, means better traffic and therefore more calls and better speech quality.
You can find out your bandwidth by following this guide.
If your business is growing or expanding, then you need a telecoms solution that can grow with you. VoIP is one of the most flexible telecom solutions and can grow inline with your business. If you ever need to add users, just choose another licence to add to your solution.
Businesses that are expanding can use VoIP to aid their expansion, allowing businesses to just add users whenever they require.
If any of your staff work from home, then VoIP may be a great solution for your business. It is becoming increasingly common for businesses to utilise home working. With VoIP, you can just install a softphone on their home computer or mobile, and get them connected to your phone system.
VoIP is the most powerful communications platform for home and remote workers. With a mobile app, desktop softphone and more, you can work from anywhere, as long as you have an internet connection.
Ultimately, we know budget is one of the most - if not the most - important deciding factor when choosing a new phone system for your business. That is why it is important to consider how much your budget is for telecoms. When recommending a solution, the first thing we look at time to value. VoIP typically has a lower time to value than an OTW system as it has a lower monthly cost.
However, if you have a larger budget, then you may be better off looking into an on-the-wall solution. This is because OTW systems have more features and are more stable than the VoIP alternative. However, if you're looking for a low running cost, then VoIP is the best way forward.
A great question to ask yourself before upgrading to VoIP is whether or not your workforce is mobile. If you have a lot of staff out on the road who use their mobiles for business use, then a VoIP solution is perfectly suited to their requirements. VoIP is built around a core of mobility, making it easier than ever to take your office with you.
Our hosted VoIP solution has a great mobile app for both Android and iOS. This app connects directly to your phone system and works as long as you have a data connection or Wi-Fi.
As we've said before, VoIP uses your broadband connection to make and receive your voice calls. This means that if you have hundreds of users on one site, a VoIP system will not suffice. We'd recommend that businesses with over 80 extensions (users) choose an on-the-wall solution, rather than a VoIP system.
However, if your business has under 80 extensions on one site, then VoIP should be fine (as long as your broadband speed is 'decent'. Please see question 2).
If your business has multiple locations, with less than 80 users in each, then VoIP is a great way forward. This is because VoIP is in the cloud. The cloud can run all of your sites, without the need for individual systems in each site. This can help dramatically reduce your businesses running costs.
However, if you have much larger sites, for example: if you have one head office with 200 employees, and three offices with 50 in each; then a better option may be a centralised IP-PBX in your head office. You can use this OTW system as the main telephone system and then have each of the smaller offices as 'satellite' offices.
Ask yourself if the solution you're looking for needs to be flexible. A good way of doing that is to break it down into these smaller questions:
If the answer is yes to any of those, then VoIP is a good way to unify your communications across all different devices. It provides a more flexible working environment than an OTW system.
We know how frustrating it can be listening to hold music when you call up your telecoms provider. Waiting for ages just to be answer by "All of our agents are busy right now". With a VoIP phone system from Commsplus, you'll have access to our in-house support team. A team of local, dedicated and friendly engineers ready to take your call within 10 seconds of the phone ringing.
If you already have a backup broadband, then VoIP is ideal. Many businesses rely heavily on their telecoms, and lost calls mean lost revenue. Because VoIP uses your existing broadband connection, if your internet goes down; so does your telecoms.
Whilst broadband outages are rare, there is a chance it might happen. So, if you don't have a backup broadband solution, it may be worth researching them - just to give you peace of mind. A good place to start would be our 4G routers.
Maintenance costs are one factor to consider when upgrading your telephony. If you have a bigger budget, then spending more on an on-the-wall PBX may be more cost effective in the long run, however, to cut your running costs, VoIP is likely a better option.
With VoIP, there is no monthly, quarterly or yearly maintenance charge. This means that your business can save money by reducing costs into one, simple, monthly payment which covers your hosted phone system.
If your business has lots of heavy broadband usage, then VoIP may be an issue. This is because VoIP uses your broadband for both data and voice. This means that your bandwidth may be 'clogged up' with other data and prevent call traffic from coming through clearly.
Whilst this won't affect most businesses, it is still something to consider. Businesses that are uploading or downloading HUGE amounts of data daily may suffer from lower quality calls and more dropouts. That iw why we recommend that you have a minimum of 28Mbps download speed.
VoIP comes with the great ability to add bolt-ons to your package. This means that you can adjust your solution to directly fit with your business requirements. Each bolt-on can be added to individual licences. This means that employees who require the mobile app, can have the mobile app bolt-on, and those who don't will not require the bolt-on.
This 'per-user' configuration of VoIP does help reduce your costs too. If you need to have an adjustable phone system, then VoIP allows you to customise individual licences directly to get you the most from your telecoms.
A new phone system is a long term investment for your company. You should consider how long you want to sign up to a phone system. If you're looking for long term investment, then a system is a better option as 5 and 7 year leases are more common.
However, most VoIP phone systems use a contract term of 36 months. But, with a low monthly fee, they also have a lower time to value. Because a VoIP solution sits in the cloud, your system will be upgraded as regularly as possible, without you ever having to call an engineer or pay for an update.
We have over 30 years of experience dealing with businesses in the healthcare sector, specifically GP surgeries and doctors practices. With this experience, we would recommend one specific thing:
Surgeries & doctors practices are better off with an on-the-wall PBX system.
We know that it is vital for practices and surgeries to have access to robust communication. We also know that they experience incredibly high call volume and require a system that is versatile and tough. Whilst VoIP is a strong communication platform, it does not offer the dependability and uniformity of the PBX.
VoIP is also constrained by it's reliant on your broadband connection. And if your broadband goes down, patients will not be able to get in touch.
This is what it all comes down to. Is VoIP a good suit to your business? If you're not sure, the best way to find out is to get in touch with one of our team on 01934 882200 or firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll help you work out which is the best solution for you. Get honest, open, no obligation and free advice from Commsplus.