Free Phone System Procurement Advice

By Jelani Harper
Updated: July 08, 2011

The procurement of a phone system can be one of the most important purchases an enterprise makes. Current phone system options include Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), Private Branch Exchange (PBX), Key System Unit (KSU), and KSU-less systems. Depending on a company’s size, specific needs for its system, and target market for its calls, there are a plethora of options and service plans to choose from. The following factors should be carefully considered before a phone system purchase is made.
Plan For The Future Now

It is essential to gauge the number of employees who will be using the phone system, the number of extensions and phones required, lines needed (including fax lines) call volume, location, and proficiency of information technology (IT) departments for present and future uses before committing to a service provider. These factors may vary over time depending on an enterprise’s projected growth, and should be accounted for at the time of phone system procurement.

Service Costs

The two principal costs associated with phone system purchases are those for service and those for the equipment to use the service. While basic service can be obtained for relatively modest amounts for a professional VoIP system, the number and complexity of features added to it inevitably raise the cost. Therefore, it’s essential to determine what specific features are available and needed before pricing service for phone systems.

Equipment Costs

Depending on what service plan is selected, there can be several options for the procurement of equipment. Some service plans require customers to use their proprietary equipment such as headsets, adaptors, and specific types of phones. It may be possible to purchase equipment from a third party or to use recycled or refurbished equipment, which might reduce costs. In any case, it is recommended that customers not only assess equipment costs, but also evaluate current and ongoing charges for installation, repairs, and maintenance of hardware.

Purchase Later

It’s always a good idea to buy phone systems at the end of the fiscal quarter, particularly if the system is for a larger, enterprise-scale option. Waiting until the end of the quarter helps customers in the negotiation process, as vendors are more likely trying to reach projected sales targets and may be more willing to concede to proposed prices to do so. This tactic generally applies throughout the telephony industry and can be used with third party vendors as well as primary service providers.

Communication Compatibility

It’s necessary to determine whether any potential phone system equipment will be compatible with an enterprise’s other hardware and software for communication, such as voicemail, voicemail to internet applications, or mobile access. Be sure to consider both current and projected needs when determining compatibility, and attempt to test a system before investing in it. Many vendors allow for system downloads or free trials.



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