5 Things to Consider Before Buying a Video Conferencing System

By Jelani Harper
Updated: July 01, 2011

There are a number of factors to consider before investing in a videoconferencing solution. Enterprises should fully assess their needs, capabilities, and potential for future growth before making such a commitment. Evaluation should include ease of integration with current and projected communications systems, ROI, ramifications for staff users and IT departments, logistics, and a host of other needs specific to the investor such as company size and frequency of use of specific applications.

Product/Service Provider

There are several key determinants to assist an enterprise in finding the right product provider of video conferencing equipment and services. Several of these have to do with the particular needs of such an enterprise—whether or not it requires high definition or traditional viewing capacity, whether it’s more feasible to invest in desktop video conferencing or traditional boardroom versions, as well as the specific size of the investor and number of its users, and the size and number of users of those it will be using the product with. Depending on specific products, vendors may offer free trials for probationary periods or pilot project sessions to test their services.

Integration

It is very important to determine the compatibility of a video conferencing solution with current communications systems. Depending on the scale of a particular enterprise, unified communications is the ultimate goal, so it is essential to determine what technical requirements are necessary for a video conferencing option that will allow it to successfully integrate with a company’s other IT devices (and future ones) such as UC platforms, directory services, and telephony equipment.

Return On Investment (ROI)

It is essential to determine the ROI for any potential investment, especially one as significant as a video conferencing solution. Factors which considerably affect this figure include ongoing costs associated with video conferencing both directly and indirectly related to its hardware and software, projected increases of revenue and sales amounts, as well as other potential benefits such a system will bring. Quality assurance and cost of capital outlay also influence the ROI.

Features

Although there are a number of general features that come with most video conferencing products, it’s always important to research which features are available and which features an enterprise will use the most before making a selection. Certain video conferencing options require additional hardware or software to employ certain capabilities and features. It’s always worthwhile to determine what specific use an enterprise will get from its product.

Staff Involvement

Ideally, it is best to involve both end users and IT staff in as much of the assessment and researching process as possible before purchasing a video conferencing solution. Ease of use and intuitive capabilities are the goals, although it is prudent to evaluate how much training and what specific areas of contention may arise setting up, integrating, and using a particular product.
 

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