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Questions to Ask before moving to a Hosted PBX or On Site IP PBX

Evolving technology in networking is allowing for significantly higher data throughput which translates to higher internet speeds available to consumers & organizations. For consumers it means high definition Netflix streaming without having to wait for buffering. For business, it unlocks a world of possibilities to move hardware, applications and servers that previously were run on site, into the Cloud. With this, many organizations are considering the opportunity to move their telecommunications hardware into the Cloud and take advantage of VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol).

Communication is vital to any well run business. Continuously implementing new measures and techniques to improve communication within a business and with clients is essential for any growing business. VoIP phone systems come in a number of flavors- two of the main variations for a business are Hosted PBX systems and on-site IP PBX systems that use SIP trunking. There are positives and negatives with both systems so it is essential you comprehend them before converting to VoIP.

When planned and executed correctly, both a Hosted PBX or an on-site IP PBX system can help to reduce the bottom line of an organization’s communications expenses. They can also bring a variety of functionality benefits over outdated PSTN & ISDN telephony.

Ask your provider the below questions when considering the change to VoIP.

Does the system support your specific communications needs?

Generally speaking, VoIP phones are much more feature rich than the phones for traditional PABX systems however, these extra features mean nothing to the user if the VoIP system does not support the key functions that are required by an organization. Make a list how your organization uses your current phone system and how your call flows are currently set up. Ensure your provider can demonstrate how their proposed VoIP system will handle the same tasks. Ask for a live demonstration of the system and compare functionality side by side.

Does the VoIP system have a guaranteed uptime?

If the VoIP provider’s system is not accessible, it’s likely your system won’t be able to make or receive phone calls. Additionally, when using a Hosted PBX system, if the provider’s system isn’t working, you will not be able to use the phone system at all. This means simple tasks like accessing voicemail will not work. A guaranteed uptime of 99.99% is the equivalent of a possible 52 minutes of downtime over a 12 month period. Make sure you understand the exact implications of system downtime on the proposed VoIP solutions you are considering.

What happens if the system potentially goes down?

Many businesses will agree that missed calls can potentially result in thousands of dollars in lost revenue. When a VoIP system goes down, most businesses opt to have an automatic forward for phone calls to an alternate network. Ask your VoIP provider what backup actions are offered when either your local internet goes down or when there is a total internet network outage. There will also be different failover measures for a power blackout and a hardware failure on premise. It’s extremely important that you have pre-planned and pre-configured failover protocols in place that automatically activate during an outage. These backup measures can allow communications to continue and prevent the potentially expensive effects of missing important phone calls.

Does Fax work over VoIP?

Faxing over a VoIP can be hit and miss. This is because faxes were designed specifically for the outdated analog networks. If your organization depends on faxes, it is imperative to ensure you have a VoIP compatible fax service that meets your requirements. Some providers may offer fax conversion services that utilize your existing fax hardware whilst others offer a virtual fax service which runs off software or online applications. Make sure you have the necessary information about how faxes will work over your VoIP system before making any changes. This will avoid potentially irreversible problems arising in the future.

How easy is it to upgrade the system?

Many VoIP systems are brilliant for scalability and involve little if any upgrades to allow for increases in the number of users and higher call volumes. Most Hosted PBX phone systems can scale to complement any business size. When you are speaking with a VoIP provider, you should advise them how many users will be accessing the system at one time. This information is important to help determine whether an On-Premise IP PBX and or a Hosted PBX phone system will best suit your needs. It is imperative you continuously plan for the future when it comes to your communications strategy as your needs today will be very different to those in a few years.

Is the VoIP platform secure?

It is extremely important to ensure your VoIP provider has up-to-date and frequently upgraded security protocols in place. One potential weakness of a VoIP phone system is that, if not properly protected, hackers can find their way into your system and make unsolicited calls. These unwelcome intrusions can often go unnoticed and allow hackers to run up thousands of dollars in phone calls that you will be liable to pay. If you are considering a Hosted PBX solution, these security measures are completely up to your VoIP provider to manage for you. When opting for an on-site IP PBX, some of these security measures will be your responsibility and will require strict settings on your firewall to keep out unwanted intruders.