Moving your phone system over to VoIP is a major company project. It should be treated the same way as moving your main office, or introducing any new company-wide system.
There area number of ways you can manage the transition, and make life easier. Project managing is key, as is planning, research, and doing some thinking beforehand.
Remote workers and hybrid workspaces. SOHO, WFH. There are a lot of things now floating around our post-pandemic culture ready and waiting to trip you up. We’ll help you slow down, take a deep breath, and manage the transition to VoIP in a calm and premeditated way.
Step One: DECIDE WHY
Decide why you wish to move over to VoIP. Having a vague idea of cost reduction isn’t really enough. You need to pin down your objectives, and what you wish to achieve. Are you going to allow remote working? Are you going to ensure your current remote working set-up reflects your company in a better way? Are you trying to create a cohesive hybrid work environment?
You need to narrow down your objectives, and give yourself some clear targets. In order to list your objectives, you need to know exactly why you are undertaking the project. At this point, you are not asking “How do we move to VoIP?” you are asking “Why are we moving to VoIP?”
If you wish to present a better, more cohesive company image, having taken the decision to move permanently to a hybrid style of working for employees, then this must be agreed upon. Once everyone knows what they are trying to achieve, above and beyond moving successfully to a new telecoms system, then your goals and methods will be clearer.
It might be a good idea to create a simple drawing of how you wish your telecoms to work. Persons A,B and C are working from home 50% of the working week, and need to be in contact with Person D. Person E will be handling all incoming calls for their department, but works from home, and works with Person F, who won’t take any calls, but needs to make international calls from time to time.
You also might want start two lists – ‘must haves’ and ‘nice to haves’.
Step Two: PLAN
It is always a good idea to have a shared document to assist with planning any company-wide project. Make sure everyone who is involved, from planning to execution, has access. Also make sure everyone involved has an input at all stages.
Your planning document should break down the project into stages. From requesting and compiling quotes, to analysing these in the context of your agreed objectives.
You should have a section which delves into the nuts and bolts of the initial transition stage, as well as the practicalities of producing the desired end result.
For instance, what happens to your customer calls whilst the company is shifting over? Do you arrange it for a time when everyone is on holiday? In which case, who will be managing the project? Do you see this as a job best left to your IT Department? If so, do they have the necessary skills and training to know and understand what they are doing? What do they do if something unexpected happens? Do they have an external resource to call on? If so, then who? How will they be expecting you to contact them?
All these questions, and more, should be addressed in your Planning document.
Step Three: PREPARE
Make sure everyone involved has a definite idea of what is required of them, and the time-scale involved. If you need to get quotes from prospective VoIP Providers, then someone has to be tasked with making contact. The person making contact needs a clear brief as to what is gong to be supplied. All Providers need to be working towards the same outcome. There is no point in getting in your quotes and making your decision, if you find out after two months a critical feature which you need isn’t actually included, or is but at exorbitant cost. Having these things nailed down in a clear brief makes everyone’s life easier, and ensures you don’t miss anything.
Make sure all the staff who will be involved fully informed, and that no-one critical to the project is on holiday, or working off-site.
Step Four: DECISION-MAKING
By this stage you should have created a summary diagram or work-flow document showing a simplified schematic of how you wish your phone system to work, and what you need it to do. You should know what questions you need to ask potential Providers, and have recorded all the responses you have received. Either in a shared document which everyone involved can access, or in a shared file containing all the responses from Providers contacted.
You now need to review all the potential solutions you are faced with. Take care to watch for any hidden costs, and ensure all your requirements are covered to the last detail. Something as simple as not requesting power supplies for phone situated in worker’s homes will cause a delay in implementing your new phone system. Are power supplies, cables etc included in all the quotes you have received? Do they need to be? Once your committed it’s a bit late to find out you missed something so simple.
You now need to carefully review all your potential Providers against your original criteria and Planning document.
Make sure the Provider you select meets all your needs, and has covered all the details, both big and small.
They should cover everything in your ‘must have’ list, and be able to supply a phone system which can meet or exceed that outlined in your planning document. If more than one potential Provider does this, then you can make your selection based on your ‘nice to have list’, or on which was the most responsive, or which allowed access to their own Tech Support for any in-depth questions.
Step Five: IMPLEMENTATION
Hang in there – you’re almost there! Now you need to actually put your planning into action.
Make sure your chosen Provider is fully aware of your timescales, and can have you set up with your desired system in plenty of time. They should help with transferring any existing numbers over, and help with how to handle incoming calls whilst the transfer takes place. You may also need to have hardware delivered to employees and offices. This is where your Planning stage works for you, as you should have identified in plenty of time which workers will be home based, which will be in the office, and what equipment will be going where. Don’t feel bad about sending over any planning docs to your chosen Provider (as long as they don’t contain any sensitive information). They should be arranging it all, so anything which helps them meet your objectives can only be a good thing.
With all necessary hardware in place, all your features and functions lined up, and all your phone numbers arranged, you’re ready to start using your new VoIP service!
Well done – with a little bit of planning, some discussions and some documentation, you’ve managed to ensure a company-wide project has been completed successfully.
If you’d like to discuss a VoIP project for your company, and see how we can help, just get in touch.
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