VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) calls can be made over the internet using a computer, a VoIP phone set or even a regular phone set connected to a computer using special adapters. In the present work environments, workers need to remain well-connected and require being able to communicate instantly without any trouble. By using VoIP for work related communications, businesses can cut their costs enormously in contrast to a legacy phone system. The increasing popularity of VoIP in the UK is indicated by the fact that by 2013, the UK had made its way to the top 10 countries showing the strongest growth in VoIP subscriptions.
Migrating to Business VoIP requires time, effort and money. But with some careful planning and a reliable VoIP Service Provider, it doesn’t have to be a major hassle. Here are our expert tips to help you make a pain-free and smooth migration to VoIP.
- Evaluate Your Network. Before planning a migration to VoIP you’ll need to plan a network evaluation. This will help you ensure that your current network can handle the voice traffic without compromising the sound quality and without interruptions. Network latency can result in workers noticing voice delays or even call drops. It is important that you optimise your network metrics and add capacity to the WAN, if needed, to avoid disruptions and ensure that calls over the IP go smoothly. Contacting your equipment vendors to carry out a network assessment may come in handy if your network switches don’t support PoE (Power over Ethernet) for powering the IP phones and need an upgradation. If your voice traffic is going to be heavy, virtual LANs or, at least, a separate subnet for VoIP phones will become an absolute necessity. To avoid future trouble, companies should analyse their networks and estimate their voice traffic to plan a network upgradation accordingly.
- Hiring the Right Service Provider. Hiring the right telephony supplier goes a long way in ensuring that your Business VoIP is a success. It is important that you take your time in searching for a provider that will understand your needs and deliver accordingly. Apart from considering certifications and latest equipment, opt for a provider who is experienced in scaling the VoIP network to meet your increasing requirements whenever necessary. A service provider offering a complete package including IP phones, numbers and connectivity, other applications and complete project management will take a lot of load off your shoulders. A team of professional experts will help you make decisions at every phase of the migration. For example, as popular as 3CX is, it will be more suitable for small or mid-sized companies; similarly, a company with in-house Linux experts should opt for Asterisk based system instead of 3CX. The internet is loaded with many lists of the best VoIP service providers in the UK. You should look for a provider who will go an extra mile to ensure customer satisfaction and be readily available should any problem occur after migrating to VoIP. Additionally, make sure that you know the team you’re hiring, their certifications and ensure that both parties agree to the scale and scope of the supplier’s responsibility.
- Setting up a Special Interdepartmental Team. While forming the overall strategy for migration, you should consider creating a cross-functional team from different departments of your company including HR, IT and the Management team. It should include the networking experts as well as laymen like sales and customer support. Since communication is important at both interdepartmental and intradepartmental level, this will ensure that the requirements of each department are fed into the final migration plan.
- Making and Following a Migration plan. Once you have selected the VoIP service provider and set up an interdepartmental team, you need to map out a complete business plan for carrying out this migration in collaboration with the provider. From identifying the migration costs and available human and capital resources to anticipating a timeframe for completing the entire process, everything needs to be pre-planned to avoid any surprises during the migration process. A team of experts will try to make the transition in phases instead of a full overhaul. In addition, a professional and reliable provider will help you make informed decisions and give suggestions to make the transition effective and affordable. Another aspect to keep in mind at this stage is disaster recovery. With Business VoIP, both data and voice traffic run over a single network and if the network is down, all communications will come to a halt. Your service provider should also devise a disaster recovery plan beforehand.
- Holding a Training Session. Before the actual migration, it is imperative that you train your workers and the network administrator so that they could adapt to the new VoIP system as soon as it’s deployed. The best IP phone systems will make VoIP pretty much similar to a legacy phone system at user level. This way, a user friendly and easy-to-use IP phone system can considerably decrease the learning curve and your workforce can make the best out of the new system without any hassle. Vendors like 3CX even allow you to download and evaluate it which can help in the training phase as well. Don’t be hesitant in asking your provider to document the entire process. You should also ensure that your IT team follows the entire process closely and completely understands the maintenance requirements of the VoIP system.
- Consider Your Security Requirements. It is important to understand that VoIP will be using the same network as your data and other business applications. This makes it vital to pay heed to additional security concerns. Any external attack at your network can not only compromise your data but also bring your everyday communications to a halt. Firewalls are absolutely essential to protect your enterprise’s network and communications. If your communications are highly critical in certain departments, you might want to discuss with your vendor the option of encrypting IP phone calls for certain, if not all, employees.
- Conduct a test run before the final migration. Before forsaking your legacy phone system completely, conduct a test run to make sure the system works as is expected of it. A test-run will also familiarise your staff with the Business VoIP set up and will make the final transition easier. It will give you and your IT team an idea regarding the issues that your workforce might face once the implementation is completed, and it will allow you to form a strategy to effectively deal with those issues. Your IT team should develop test cases to ensure that every aspect of the VoIP system is tested and deemed reliable.
Although there is no guide book that will cater to each company’s unique needs, following these simple steps will make way for a seamless migration to VoIP.