Comparing Office Phone Systems

By Ryan Ayers
Updated: April 01, 2011

Often, we don’t think about them this way, but our office phone systems are the lifeblood of our business operations. These systems allow us to interact with our customers, generate and complete sales transactions, communicate between employees, vendors and offices, and generally accomplish the day to day tasks that make our businesses function. Our business telephone systems are an integral part of how our businesses run.

Unfortunately, the telephone system in a business is often the one piece of technology that is overlooked when it comes to upgrading and keeping current. We hardly give a thought to keeping up with current trends in telephony, yet these advances have the ability to save our businesses money and boost our productivity significantly.

When Does Your Business Need a New System?

Every business is set up differently and functions in a unique way, so there isn’t a concrete answer to this question. Depending on how your current system fits into your operational plan, and on how rapidly your business is likely to change and evolve can be contributing factors in this decision.

The short answer for many businesses is that they need a new telephone system when it will:

  • Increase productivity and functionality
  • Lower communications costs
  • Reduce maintenance and service charges

What’s Out There?

Currently, there are telephony and communications solutions available to fit the needs of any size business by providing a wide range of possible services and features. The key in deciding how you might benefit from any of these options, and if they might help to make your business more functional, is to take an honest look at what you would like your communication system to accomplish and how your business is likely to use it.

Below are a few of the most common types of telephone/communications systems available for business use.

  • Traditional PBX – Private Branch Exchange (PBX) systems are the more traditional systems that are the basis for all business telephone networks. This is a network that is designed to eliminate the need for outside dialing for in-network calls. Extensions are set for different locations and handsets within your company, and outside lines (and charges) are only necessary for outbound calls.

The drawback with these systems is that they are gradually being phased out in favor of the VoIP systems listed below. While you can still find and implement these PBX’s, it is becoming an increasingly smaller market with fewer options as far as service agreements and packages.

  • On-Premise VoIP / Hosted VoIP – Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) telephone systems are based loosely on the traditional PBX model. They are designed to mimic the setup of the PBX systems in that they provide extensions and inside-line type calling for businesses with many different employees that need to be connected. These systems can be deployed as an on-premise solution (like traditional PBX’s) or as a hosted solution, in which case a service provider is generally responsible for maintenance and hardware costs and your service is billed on a monthly or annual basis.

Among the benefits of VoIP systems is the fact that it is so widely available from any number of manufacturers and service providers. This enables you to make choices as to what system and set of features best fits your business’ needs.

Whatever your needs, there is a communication solution that will fit your business and help to make it function more efficiently. If you haven’t taken a look at what’s available in the market recently, you might be surprised to find that there are many options that are less expensive and more functional than you might imagine.

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