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Implementing unified communications: It’s not just plug-and-play

Staff Writer's picture

This article was originally published on BizJournals

Any business that’s been operating for more than a few years is probably the veteran of at least one new phone system installation. And if your company is like most, you’ve found that even when you choose a system for its array of features and functionalities, it still becomes outmoded faster than you intended.

Keeping up with customer and vendor expectations can mean going through the whole process again, only to learn of new capabilities that are introduced to the market just as you get the hang of the new call transfer process. A hosted, cloud-based, mobile unified communications (UC) system gets you off that merry-go-round once and for all.

What do you need to consider in implementing UC?

  • What to look for in a provider. A good service provider can help you gather and disseminate information that will reassure employees about the change, deliver reliability, and deliver the network and application together.
  • Get ready for transition and change. When you find a provider who checks all the boxes, you may be tempted to sell the choice internally by touting the need it fills or the benefits it delivers. But Shawn Murphy, CEO and senior partner at WorqIQ, advises taking a step back before you get to those message points. “Show that you care about helping employees succeed in the new environment,” he says. “Listen to their ideas and concerns. Treat employees like the valued partners they are.” One strategy he has found productive is to create short-term work groups, each of which is given “a specific assignment related to the tech change,” he says. “By tapping into the group’s experiences and work realities you not only get more solid solutions but also commitment to the changes. Why? The change isn’t thrust upon employees. Instead, they are included in developing solutions.”
  • Timing, troubleshooting, and long-term successCloud-based unified communications solutions don’t follow the “rip and replace” playbook. To begin with, you need to build a realistic timeline for ramping up to replacement, adoption, and troubleshooting needs. It’s also smart to think at the outset about your long-term needs and how you’ll need the system to scale with your business well into the future.

In terms of the installation itself, make sure you know what the service provider does and does not deliver. Its expectations of your role in the process have to align with your own capacity and tolerance for “do it yourself” requirements. “A company may just ship you the phones and walk you through the installation process or expect you to follow videos and instructions on how to set yourself up,” said Eric Hyman, director of product marketing for Comcast Business. “With more professional installation, the service provider will have a technician come to your site to deliver and install the service. Most customers want the latter.”

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