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How to Modernize Your On-Premises Phone System

Phone systems are a vital piece of technology that every business needs. Communication is central to a company’s operations, customer service, and more. However, not every phone system has the same features and functionality. If you’re still using an on-premises phone system, you’re likely very aware of its limitations. As a result, you may be looking to modernize.

So, what’s the best path to do this? The truth is legacy phone systems are holding you back, especially if you have employees not physically in your office. Companies that adopt more flexible technology can reap lots of benefits. That typically means moving to the cloud. The key difference between on-premises phone systems and cloud-based ones is that the latter uses the internet.

You may have concerns about the transition from on-premises phones to cloud-based. That’s normal, but it’s usually very smooth.

In your pursuit to modernize, there are several things to consider. You want to ensure you put a new solution in place that serves you the best.

What Are Your Current Pain Points with On-Premises Phones?

Phone systems that live on-premises have many shortcomings. When thinking about what the ideal platform to replace it with is, document your current pain points. These could include:

  • Limitations on usability beyond the office
  • Challenges with adding new lines or upgrading, which may require provider intervention and high fees
  • Lack of features that make it easy for end users (i.e., hard-to-access voicemails)
  • Restrictions on devices, as most on-premises solutions only work with physical phones

What Are Your Phone System Goals?

The next step is to document what a new phone system will offer you. It’s likely the answer to the pain points. These may include:

  • Flexibility of use for employees no matter where they are or what device they use
  • Feature upgrades that enhance usability
  • Administrator control to add lines as needed
  • Auto attendants to route callers based on needs
  • High-quality call clarity and reliability
  • Integration with other platforms
  • A phone system that’s part of a unified communications (UC) platform that includes an array of tools for employees

With your pain points and goals confirmed, next, you’ll define the logistics.

Charting the Transition

The logistics behind modernization involve several components. First, you’ll need to define the number of users, budget, functionality, and timeline. You don’t have to be an expert in phone systems. You just need to determine your requirements.

After you do this, it’s time to find the best cloud-based phone system provider. Look for one to support your transition and deliver all the features and must-haves that your business needs.

Some assessment areas are more technical. For example, you’ll want to determine if you have sufficient bandwidth, connections at workstations, and network capabilities. Your new provider can help you through this.

Finding Your New Provider

Your current phone system provider may have a cloud-based solution. Don’t feel obligated to stay with them. Shop around to understand the differences in systems as well as how providers handle support, security, and reliability.

Here are some guidelines on how to compare providers.

Support

  • Is it 24/7/365?
  • What type of support do they offer (phone, chat, email, etc.)?
  • Do they make support a priority?

Security

  • Does the provider have certifications in security?
  • What are their security protocols?
  • Do they offer endpoint protection for all devices?
  • Do they offer special features like spam caller protection?

Reliability

  • What is their annual uptime?
  • How do they address business continuity?
  • What makes their cloud “better”?

Features

  • Do they provide all the features you outlined in your ideal system?
  • Is there an option for call analytics?
  • Does the phone system have an app so it’s accessible on mobile devices?
  • How easy are installation and implementation?
  • Is there training available?

Budget

  • What’s the total cost of ownership (TCO)? (Note: You’ll likely be saving money when going from on-premises to the cloud. You’ll no longer have to invest in and maintain on-site servers or pay for technicians. However, when comparing providers for cloud-based phones, be sure the pricing is fair market for what you get.)
  • Do you have to use their phones, and if so, what’s the cost?
  • Is support extra?
  • Are there different plans or tiers?
  • Is unlimited calling part of the monthly cost?
  • Are add-ons available (i.e., toll-free numbers)? And what are the costs?

Choose Your New Provider and Plan the Transition

Once you complete your comparison and select your new provider, it’s time to execute the transition.

There are few things necessary in the changeover. Number porting is necessary, and your new provider can assist with this. Be sure to coordinate the handoff so there’s no downtime for your phone systems.

You’ll also want to prepare your employees for the change, providing them with useful information on when it will happen, what to expect, and resources for using the new system. Having training sessions is helpful as well.

Modernize Your On-Premises Phone System and Cut the Cord

Your on-premises phones served their purpose. They made sense years ago, but that’s not how the world works or communicates now. It’s time to cut the cord on their limitations and high costs.

To help you on your journey to finding the best phone system, read our guide to small business phone systems.

About Darcy Mekis