IP-PBX Vendor Selection Checklist

By Ryan Ayers
Updated: September 08, 2011

You already understand that purchasing an IP-PBX solution for your business can help you communicate more effectively and efficiently while lowering costs. You have decided that a hosted VoIP solution is the right choice for your business. Now comes the hard part in finding the right vendor to fit your needs and ensuring that your business ends up with a service package that will help it function most effectively.

What You Need to Know

When your business is evaluating potential IP-PBX providers, it is helpful to determine which attributes are most important to your business’ goals. Not all service and equipment providers have identical strong suits, and it is important to understand the specific features that your business is searching for in a vendor. If your business is primarily concerned with the ability to modify or change your service arrangement as it grows for instance, then it behooves you to seek out vendors that have a specific emphasis on adaptability. Likewise, if call quality is of paramount importance to your company, then selecting your future VoIP provider based on service quality and uptime may be the best route.

Common Goals for IP-PBX Solutions:

  • Scalability
  • Service Uptime
  • Overall Cost
  • Adaptability
  • Service Responsibility

Checking Your List

Once you have decided on the several attributes that are “musts” for your IP-PBX solution, you will be able to move forward and evaluate vendors on a case by case basis without fear of becoming locked in to a solution that is a poor fit for your business.

Scalability – For many businesses today, future growth is an issue that is best kept in mind when entering into service agreements. If your business is likely to grow and/or change rapidly, then a solution that offers some degree of scalability is key for you. There are many VoIP providers available that focus specifically on scalability and the ability to add lines, extensions, features, and more as needed.

Service Uptime – An important question to ask any VoIP vendor is about their service or call uptime percentages. Regardless of your other criteria, you should have some sense of the reliability of your telephone communications. Most IP-PBX providers will have somewhat accurate data regarding their uptime statistics and this will give you an idea of whether they are able to meet your demands in terms of service quality.

Overall Costs – VoIP service was made famous because of its extraordinarily cost effective nature. Most IP-PBX solutions will save your business considerable expense overall, but these service options can very from the extremely minimal (several dollars a month with no equipment included) to the more involved (several hundred dollars per user with premise based networking equipment and advanced telephony equipment). Be sure that your business has a realistic expectation of the initial and ongoing expenses associated with your VoIP goals and you should be able to find a provider that fits into your budget.

Adaptability – Much like the discussion of scalability mentioned above, many IP-PBX providers have a particular focus on the changeability and adaptability of their service agreements depending on your long term needs. If your company is in a constant state of flux, or if you anticipate periodic changes to your equipment and service needs, finding a plan that allows for alterations to your contract is important. Determining the areas that might need change most frequently will help inform your conversations with potential vendors.

Service Responsibility – Unlike service agreements with traditional analog telephone service providers, IP-PBX vendors range from those who will take an entirely hands-off approach and leave you with the proper equipment to those who will manage every aspect of your VoIP service and help you maintain and/or expand your communications network. While the more involved vendors are certainly more expensive, many companies opt for this arrangement because of the savings they get in not having to maintain a networking or IT staff.

Finding a vendor for your business’ new IP-PBX solution should not be a difficult task. Thanks to the wholesale adoption of VoIP technologies, there are providers for any market available with service packages to fit almost any business need.
 

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