Video Conferencing Procurement Strategies

By Sheila Shanker
Updated: July 01, 2011

When looking for video conferencing, you want to make sure to get the best system you can afford. There are many options available, from hosted services, where the system is managed by an outside firm, to in-house setups, where the system is owned and managed in-house with no outsiders. You could also consider desktop and conference room solutions. As you procure video conferencing systems, you need a strategy, or you will end up totally confused.

Below are some ideas to help you plan your video conferencing purchase well, avoiding headaches later:

Involve your IT professional from the start

Don’t let your receptionist or other office worker make decisions about your video conferencing system. Most likely you’ll get a “VoIP” (Voice Over Internet Protocol) system, which uses the latest technology. Your IT person will be able to advise you on your Internet connection and options in terms of any system interface issues you may not be aware of.  Others in your firm may not have the knowledge depth to give you appropriate input in this area. Most likely your IT professional  wil be objective and  give you informed, unbiased opinion on this matter – maybe he or she knows of other businesses using similar setup and can give you valuable information.

Look online for options

Do research online to verify what is available in the market-place, paying attention to costs and any limitations of the equipment and services. Go to at least three websites and also visit online users group to gather information about the system, including problems found with certain setups. Try to visit sites that are unbiased and not sponsored by developers or vendors to get the best unbiased information. If you search for the name of a system or a type, you may get reviews by professional magazines and other independent media that can be more reliable than other sites.

Consider renting

Before making a major purchase for a system, such as a conference room video system, you could rent instead of purchasing outright the system. Many firms offer conference room rentals, which includes video systems. Select one rental business that utilizes the system you want to purchase and make this step part of your strategy – it may be expensive, but it may be worthwhile. Some vendors, such as CDW, offer  lease options of many systems, which may be a good idea if you want to try new setups – but be careful not to sign a long-term contract that may be detrimental to your firm.

Many firms are using video conferencing these days, saving firms lots of money in travel expenses. Thanks to Skype, video communications using the Internet is common-place and not a fad that will go away. Take your time in procuring your system, and pay attention to any new developments that can help your firm in the long run.



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