The most important basic principle you can apply when choosing a small business telephone system is that there really is only one person that you should trust. You need to trust yourself to take the required time to understand as much as you possibly can about the available technology & options that will best fit you needs.
It all starts with a telephone line, a standard PSTN line which is the type most homes & businesses have installed. This type of line has a technical specification that details something called a Ring Equivalent Number. Essentially this defines the total number of devices that can be attached to the line & still allow the ringing signal to activate each device. Most standard devices made today are available with a REN of 1, based on the total REN of 4 for a standard telephone line this dictates a total of 4 devices. However it is possible to source devices with REN's of 0.5, thereby allowing 8 devices to be attached to a standard telephone line. It is also still possible to source REN boosters, these will typically allow for a REN of 11 to be applied to a standard line. In addition to this there are a number of wireless phone sets that can have more that 4 handsets attached to one telephone line.
With this in mind it is indeed possible to source phones that have the ability to connect to one phone line & also call / transfer internal calls. This kind arrangement is able to meet the needs of many homes & small business environments, but what happens if you want more? The more factor is different for everybody. More often than not you may find that you need to be able to access the telephone line from more than 4/8 locations, as your needs and wants grow some of the most obvious additional feature requirements would probably include, multiple answer phone massage in boxes, Interactive Voice Receptionist, call queuing, direct dial into an extension / department for customers, ease of use or some other feature.
This is where you need to start considering a telephone system to help you implement efficient communications, especially if you want multiple telephone lines to be accessed for inbound & out bound calls form any of your telephone locations. Having decided how many internal telephone points you need & how many access lines of communication will be shared amongst them. Next you would really need to consider the type of communications access lines, some options are listed below. You simply need to evaluate the cost, pros & cons of each with reference to your business model.
- Standard single PSTN lines
- Multi line PSTN (PBX lines / auxiliary lines)
- VOIP SIP trunks
In light of the constant need to remain competitive in the open market there really is no getting away from the need to implement good communications. If your are considering a new or replacement business telephone system, you really must take a look at what ASTERISK based technology can do for you. As one of the most widely implemented telecommunications tool sets around the world. It is an excellent choice for any business small or large, that wishes to keep costs down, yet still be able to take advantage of some of the latest & greatest communications features.
The Asterisk communications tool kit, it is extremely flexible & versatile, but more importantly it is a license fee free system, one that is not hardware vendor specific. Asterisk is such a powerful tool it can turn an old computer into a great telephone system.
Currently there are a number of really great projects that can help a business take advantage of Asterisk (IncrediblePBX, PBX in a Flash, FreePBX, WAZO, Ombutel, Issabel, and many more). Many of these projects have been developed & packaged in such a way that most of the complicated functionality, feature sets and administration are carried out via an intuitive web browser graphical user interface.
Following initial configuration & deployment a modern communications / telephone system can be looked after in house. Subject to good initial planing of a structured data cabling network all internal moves, additions & changes can also be carried out in house. Taking control & responsibility of your business communications assets in the right way for future development growth & modification can be very rewarding.
The level of control required will depend on a number of factors, quite often specific to the type and nature of your business. Evaluation of your communications means that ultimately you will probably be faced with deciding on weather to have an on-site or hosted solution. There are many pros & cons to both systems, in addition to all the factors that you may consider you really need to be realistic about your medium & long term strategy.
Hosted communications systems are excellent solutions, they are quick to deploy, can be relatively easy to move, have great levels of disaster management built in and require less capital outlay for system hardware / maintenance. These are all fantastic points, but you will have to pay for every one of them. If you were to look at it from just a financial point of view, it would be crystal clear that even if you only had six users with modest feature sets.
6 users at £8 per per handset per month each = £576 per year for basic features, lets say you wanted to record calls, integrate a CRM system & have customer information pop up for incoming calls. You could expect to pay anything from £500 to £1000 per year in addition to your handsets. Compared to the cost of physical hardware on-site & some investment in training for self administration or a maintenance contract, its clear to see why there are so many companies out there offering hosted services. Doing it yourself will give you more control, more features, greater integration all at less cost in the medium & long term.
Modern On-site communications systems can be made to be very secure, they can be linked for remote backup plans but most of all they can be customised to suit your specific business needs.
It can be confusing with all the different options available to find the right business telephone system for your needs. Burytec can help by matching your requirements to a system and set up that is right for you.
The right phone system can be crucial to your business, you use your phone to connect to your employees, customers and suppliers. There are several factors to take into consideration such as:-
- Your budget
- Number of users
- Features that you need now
- Features that you may need in the future
- Growth / expansion
- Type of handsets
- Decide which type of phone system best suits your businesses needs.
Hosted or on site, what ever the case it is important that you understand exactly what is on offer & total cost of ownership of your chosen system.
- Plan the size of your new system (Drawing a mind map style floor plan is a great way to start)
- Decide on the total number & type of access lines.
- Decide on the required total capacity of users.
- Evaluated the total number of simultaneous calls.
- Decide what extra features you might require from you new business phone system (voicemail, door phones, etc).
- Do plenty of online research.
- Create a folder for all documentation, include all important numbers and a process for dealing with initial fault evaluation.
- Consider user & technical administration training.
- Consider a maintenance contract.