Checklist for Buying Video Conferencing

By Sheila Shanker
Updated: August 22, 2011

Video conferencing is very convenient for all kinds of businesses. It saves money in travel and is an affordable choice for small to medium business, especially these days, when video conferencing can be done through VoIP. If you’re in the market for a video conferencing, the checklist below can help you in identifying to best system for your business.

* Upfront costs
* Maintenance monthly costs
* Maximum number of users at the same time
* Maximum number of sites to be connected at once
* Bandwidth required for optimum video service
* Type of information to be shared during the conference- files can be sent over and/or desktop sharing
* Need for record video conferences – this can be helpful in training
* Require high definition resolution – check out various monitors to see if you really need this feature
* Interface with existing systems and Internet connection
* Ease of set up and use – the easier and more intuitive, the better
* Reputation of equipment brand – look online and ask other users
* Reputation of vendor – look online, ask other users and the Better Business Bureau online
* Test quality of service-video – do this before you purchase or make a commitment to a system
* Test quality of service-audio – do this before you purchase or make a commitment to a system
* Equipment warranties – protect yourself and make sure the warranty is reasonably priced
* Security issues – availability of passwords and other security measures involving hardware and software
* Cloud services
* In-house environment – if you have internal know-how in this area
* Hosted environment – fewer upfront expenses, but includes a third-party in the process
* Customer service quality and response time
* Specific needs of your industry and business, such as sign language interpretation or other specific issues

A checklist to help you purchase a video conferencing system can help you focus your attention into relevant areas in this process. You may come up with more items for this checklist and the more specific you are, the better off you will be. Maybe you will use video conferencing for medical purposes, to link with doctors and specialists remotely, and you may need specialized equipment, including medical ultrasound images devices, otoscopes and videoendoscopes—add those to your checklist.

As you consider video conferencing systems, don’t forget to consider simpler phone systems that accommodate videos and can be very effective for conferences with few participants. You could also rent the equipment or rent a conference room that have all you need for a business quality video conference. To have a successful video conference, all participants should have appropriate equipment—not just you. You can tape a training video conference, for instance, but the other parties must have the proper setup to watch it, or this process will not be effective.


 

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