Phone and voice mail systems can be pretty costly, even for companies with a low number phones. Before investing in any type of phone system or voice mail system, you need to estimate how much your company is likely to expand over the next few years and if possible how many phones you may require. Failure to do this could cost you or your company a lot of money in upgrade and restructuring costs further down the road. It is better and cheaper to plan and allow for expansion at an early stage, than wait until it is too late.
If you plan to remain under ten phones then I would recommend you invest in a KSU-less phone system. Basically these look like normal phones that carry all the technology and software needed to run a small phone system of up to four lines and eight to twelve extensions. These systems incorporate many of the features that full PBX phone systems offer (though not voice mail). So be sure to check with your supplier what features are available on these types of phone systems. These systems are relatively cheap compared to other types of phone systems. They are also easy to install, so can be quickly re-located to another office or building. This type of phone systems usually arrive as a boxed product that is installed by you, and carries a manufacturer’s warranty. You will have to make enquiries with your vendor as to the level of after sales support that is available. You may find it is much less than if you had purchased a larger more expensive phone and voice mail system. One major disadvantage of KSU-less phone systems, is that they cannot integrate separate voice mail systems. If you do choose to purchase one of these KSU-less phone systems, then you will have to use a voice mail service that is offered by your telephone company.
If you decide that you must have a fully featured voice mail system, and can confidently predict your company will expand beyond ten phones within next few short years, then you will be better off investing in one of the fully featured KSU phone systems on the market. These phone systems are typical in companies with around ten to forty users. Some suppliers may recommend installing something called a Hybrid phone system. These systems are ideal for small to mid sized companies of about fifty to a hundred employees, and offer many of the features much larger PBX phone systems offer.
Below is a check list for when you are selecting a new phone and voice mail system and supplier:
1. Try to estimate how much your company will grow in the next three to five years. Look at how many lines and extensions you have at the moment and decide how many your company may require in the future.
2. Contact potential phone systems suppliers, and arrange an appointment with them for a full demonstration. A number of these can be sourced off the internet or through your local business pages. This will also give them a good opportunity to have a look at you and evaluate your potential requirements. Remember to ask them about their experience and if necessary ask for referrals. You could even ask to see a phone and voice mail system they have recently installed.
3. Make sure you decide on a rough budget for your proposed new telephone and voice mail system. Ask around other businesses of similar size, what amount they have invested in their phone systems.
4. When potential suppliers provide you with a quote for your new phone and voice mail system, go through them carefully, ensuring they include all of the requirements your business will need. These may include extras like; Full voice mail capability, additional handsets, call handling software, automated attendants, service level agreements (SLA’s) and any other additional features.
5. Once you have decided on one or two suppliers, it is time to get them back round. Remember, they want your business. Bearing in mind the budget you decided earlier, make your decision based upon not only price, but which supplier you think can provide your company with the best service before, during and after the installation of your new phone and voice mail system. Any good potential supplier will be more than happy to answer any questions you may have about the phone system they intend to supply and install for you.
Thanks for reading
Jason Morris is co-author, search engine optimization and marketing consultant of Business Phone Systems Direct. Specialists in the supply and installation of quality business phone systems and accessories from leading manufacturers. For a free quotation on one of our range of Panasonic phone systems and for free technical advice click Panasonic Phone Systems