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Small Business Phone System

Whether you are a start-up or small business, every last penny matters. The market is flooded today with so many solutions; it makes it hard for business owners to make the right decision. The intent of this article is to help small business owners and start-up companies make an easy decision on the one solution on the market today that is above and beyond other phone systems.

If you are looking for a hosted phone system, cloud phone system or on premise phone system let our team of telecom consultants and account managers take the guess work out of evaluating solutions. Our team of professionals can review different solutions and provide the best solution based around your business needs, whether cloud, hosted, private or on premise. If you have a cloud phone system or hosted PBX solution and want to know what you can reuse when looking for a new solution, let our design engineers help review. Contact us at sales@convergedsystems.com for more information.

What are common factors that a business considers when purchasing a phone system?

  • Features and functionality
  • Scalability and growth
  • Flexibility of solution
  • Ease of management and administration
  • Cost of ownership
  • Supportability of product
  • Life cycle and Investment protection
  • Options

Compare Hosted vs. On Premise Phone Systems:

Some businesses make a quick decision to go with hosted as there is little investment in your time to review the solution. Hosted solutions provide a monthly cost and a simpler pricing model because hosted products are very inflexible. Hosted PBX clients are provided a list of a handful of common features; however, if you are seeking flexibility, then hosted or cloud phone systems aren't the answer. The objective of any hosted or cloud provider is to provide lower monthly cost to a lot of clients; thus, compromise other key factors of a business phone system.

Hidden Costs with Hosted or Cloud Phone Systems:

Hosted and cloud phone system providers attract small business clients by a monthly price and a simplified dashboard. However, they forget to mention that additional one time fees will apply for telephone devices, increasing your bandwidth, as well as modifying your infrastructure (firewall, switch and wiring infrastructure) to accommodate the hosted phone system. With cloud phone systems you are paying forever, but never for the core processing equipment; thus, when you decide to go another route in the future you have a box of equipment you cannot use, as the brains aren't yours.

Some hosted and cloud phone system providers cut corners and focus on the lower monthly cost. After you are on the new monthly service, you may have to invest more if there are poor quality calls. If there is a feature which could be a simple ring coverage that you don't have, there are no ways of turning that feature on, as hosted providers are not flexible when it comes to simple things like personal call routing.

If you have a call center or need to leverage queue or ACD (automatic call distribution), which is more commonly used today for simple things such as reception groups, you will not be able to perform this feature. If you need such features, you will have to leverage two hosted providers as some cloud phone system providers can overlay call center features. Analog devices are discouraged on a cloud or hosted platform which drive other costs up such as ordering plain ordinary telephone lines (POTS).

Integration to third party servers at your site is typically not allowed. If you don't bundle the internet into the cloud phone system and get internet from the cloud provider, then there is no way the cloud provider can guarantee quality of call. Clients' and prospective clients' experience when they call into your business is extremely important to all businesses. Bottom line, you will be limited in being able to customize the way you handle your client experience.

To get the most out of your cloud solution, someone at your company must dedicate a lot of time to work with the hosted provider, read documentation and watch videos to understand the solution. This usually falls on the owner of a small business.

The items discussed above are the most commonly overlooked items a cloud customer should be aware of when electing a cloud phone system. There are four major benefits of a hosted phone system or cloud PBX versus an on premise solution:

  1. Since the brains or call processing is in the cloud, you should be able to simply move to a new location and the phone will still work.
  2. If you are simply looking for a phone and dial tone, this might be the way to go.
  3. The cloud solution can have multiple options for business disaster events.
  4. Cloud providers like to wow prospects with a web dashboard.

Some Misconceptions About Cloud Phone Systems:

Cloud phone systems and hosted PBX solutions are less expensive.

Cloud phone systems and hosted PBX solutions are not always less expensive than on premise solutions. On premise solutions can be leased, financed, rented through a private cloud model, or purchased.

Since its cloud you are always upgraded to the latest and greatest.

This is not true. Some hosted providers provide a private cloud solution which means upgrades won't happen unless you choose to upgrade. Cloud providers limit the number of features clients can use to decrease support costs and minimize upgrades.

Cloud phone systems are fully managed.

Since you have to put more of your own time in and manage the solution yourself, cloud phone systems aren't fully managed. Training on the solution is found on a portal or is archived, so don't expect a real person to train your staff and the phone system admin on how to best utilize your phone system. Simple changes can take days and there might be a cost associated, as cloud providers try to minimize monthly cost by stripping out other items to their plan.

You can use your own Internet connection.

We highly recommend cloud phone system clients to stay away from using their existing internet connection to run the new cloud phone system over it. By doing this, you are looking for problems. The cloud provider has no control if you BYOI (bring your own internet); however, they do have options to increase your monthly spend to supply their own bandwidth, thus providing a better guarantee when it comes to your phone calls.

It's just a monthly cost.

Businesses looking for a monthly cost have many options with on premise solutions. Our account managers work with you to provide you leasing options, finance options, as well as private cloud options and in some cases rental options. CIT communications, Avaya Financial Services and Converged Communication Systems can provide aggressive monthly programs for your business. For businesses that want to own technology ask about our $1.00 buyout or one dollar option or 12 month financing programs. For businesses that want the lowest monthly payment, we can leverage a Fair Market Value (FMV) lease that provides clients the options to complete a full or partial upgrade, buyout the equipment, re-lease existing equipment, or simply return the equipment at the end of term. Monthly programs from Avaya Financial Services can be anywhere from 12, 24, 36, 48 or 60 months. If you are a current Avaya Financial Services client and need help exploring options contact us at sales@convergedsystems.com.

Since it's an IP solution, cloud or hosted providers allow me to make calls anywhere for free.

This is false. All cloud providers will have their limitations. You typically will receive free calls within a specific calling area which is very common no matter on premise or cloud solution.

Why the Avaya IP Office Phone System is Best-In-Class:

The Avaya IP Office phone system can grow with your business. The smallest IP Office system out of the box can handle up to six telephones, two analog devices and four phone lines. The IP Office core software is able to grow to 2,500 endpoints if needed with additional licensing.

Avaya IP Office allows for digital, analog and IP phones to be used on the same platform. This is important for many reasons. As a reminder, the endpoint or telephone device is a dumb terminal as all the features are inside the IP Office software. Therefore, all telephones can leverage all the same features. Businesses that have older wiring infrastructures can deploy digital phones; thus, eliminating the need for expensive re-wiring of your facility. Companies that don't want to upgrade their data switches to provide power over internet (POE) switches to power the IP telephones can leverage digital phones. Businesses that simply want to have a home IP phone can simply and easily allow for this. Businesses that have multiple locations in their roadmap can deploy IP phones or a second IP Office core processor to allow for local redundancy and local number presence in the future. Analog devices such as faxes, credit card machines, postal machines, modems, alarms, and such can be connected through the phone system. Connecting analog devices through the phone system can bring your dial tone providers monthly cost down; thus, not forcing you to purchase separate analog phone lines like a cloud solution provider may have you do. Businesses that want a full IP solution can still leverage analog devices simply and easily, as the IP 500v2 gateway or chassis accommodates for this.

Want redundant phone lines? Not a problem with Avaya IP Office. You can leverage standard phone lines (analog POTS), PRI or SIP Trunks. This allows your business to have dial tone redundancy. The Avaya IP Office allows for ARS (Automatic Route Selection) which intelligently notices if your dial tone is down and routes calls out automatically. With automatic failsafe routing, you'll never miss a call again.

If you are still under a contract with your current dial tone provider, it's no problem. The Avaya IP Office phone system allows you to re-use the majority of dial tone providers as Avaya solutions. It also allows you, as the consumer, to choose your dial tone provider.

The features built into the IP Office software are more robust than enterprise solutions since Avaya is focusing the majority of its research into the IP Office solution. All IP Office solutions take advantage of the built in audio conferencing bridge; thus, eliminating the need for those external providers. Included within every IP Office is a robust call processing engine and ACD engine that allows you to design your clients' and prospective clients' experience. You can customize different lines to greet clients and prospects accordingly. Mobile twinning (mobile bridging) is free to all IP Office customers, so all employees will have the ability to ring their desk phone and cell phone at the same time. The IP Office system is the easiest phone system to manage, so your administrators do not need technical experience. Multiple music on hold sources are allowed which gives businesses the ability customize callers experience even more so. Individual call routing allows you to customize each extension separately. Cloud solutions cannot compete with the features that IP Office has standard within the solution.

Avaya makes products and solutions that last. Investment protection is key to Avaya when reviewing roadmaps of solutions and dictating upgrades paths, as it's important to Avaya to retain clients. The Avaya IP Office product has been on the market over 10 years. It has been enhanced and improved over the years. The predecessor to Avaya IP Office was Avaya Merlin Magix phone system. Client with 4400 series digital handsets (4406 , 4412, and 4424) could simply reuse these handsets on the IP Office. Mid-market companies who used Avaya Definity, Avaya ACM, or Avaya Aura could also re-use telephone sets such as 2400 digital and IP and 6400 digital series phones. Clients with small business Avaya Partner Endeavor, Partner ACS, or Partner II could reuse Partner Series 1 or Series 2 or Eurostyle phones. When Avaya acquired Nortel in 2009 they allowed the IP Office to reuse Nortel digital and IP phones. These are just some examples of Avaya making products that last and secure your investment.

Avaya is agnostic when it comes to IT infrastructure equipment. You aren't forced to rip and replace your firewall, switch, and other IT infrastructure based on your solution as Avaya allows the Avaya IP Office to work on agnostic infrastructures. In addition, Avaya IP Office Server Edition can be purchased in a software only format, allowing clients who have heavily invested in VMWARE infrastructure to allocate resources and install Avaya's intelligent routing engine.

Avaya IP Office Private Hosted, Avaya IP Office Cloud, or Avaya IP Office On Premise:

Clients can now pick their flavor of IP Office, as IP Office comes in a privately hosted, cloud, and on premise format. Our account management team works as an extension of your team to understand your business needs and design a solution tailored to your business.

Whether it's a cloud solution, hosted PBX, private cloud, or on premise phone system, each have its benefits. The Avaya IP Office solution can allow your start-up, small business, mid-market company or larger enterprise to communicate with your clients effectively based around your business needs. For more information contact us at sales@convergedsystems.com.

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