VoIP Buying Checklist

By Sheila Shanker
Updated: September 01, 2011

Congratulations on your decision to purchase a VoIP system! You’re in the right track to great savings and features you never thought you could afford. With so many options available, you need to have a checklist to guide you through this process and focus your attention to items that are important. Besides costs, you must consider other issues, such as:

* Be aware of compatibility issues

If you plan on using your existing setup, consider VoIP systems that are compatible with your current equipment. Probably, you will need to buy an adapter, but be sure to inform the vendor of your intention to keep your own equipment and cables—not all VoIP systems are compatible with older setup. If you're purchasing new equipment, you're less likely to have compatibility problems, but double check anyway.

* Bundle your needs

Many vendors bundle services, offering a variety of functions for a monthly fee. Identify what you need, such as voicemail or call forwarding, and ask to put those in the bundle, so that you don’t have to pay extra for them. Avoid paying for features that you‘ll never use, and instead, ask for those that you will utilize the most.

* Think about the future

As you look over VoIP systems, inquire about the scalability and flexibility of the equipment and service. You may want to add video conferencing later on—how difficult and expensive would that be? What if you’re moving of your existing premises or adding new employees—how hard will it be to install phone services? Can the system deal with wireless connections?

* Value quality

You want to save money, but if you cannot use your phone, then the VoIP system will be useless. Ask to see statistics on services and contact references to confirm the quality and consistency of services. You don’t want to have excellent service during mornings only, or when you have a few people on the line. Test the quality of both service and equipment before making your purchase.

* e911 access

e911 is an emergency system that gives the call center your location, which is very useful in most situations. Since VoIP can be mobile, you may have problems using this system. Some VoIP providers require you to give them your address and notify them of any moves. Ask the vendor what happens when you call 911—who answers the calls? Are calls routed to an emergency center? Can the vendor give you a real-life example of using its 911?

Take your time looking at the VoIP systems, and inquire about post-sales services. You want to get the best value for your money and not deal with obscure vendors or equipment that may be around for short-term only. Interview a few vendors and do some research online to figure out what would be the best fit for your business.

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