Have you been thinking about migrating your communications to the cloud? Many business owners are and it’s not as complex as it may seem. It takes some planning so that your core operations are not interrupted, but it can pay off big in the end. Switching can be relatively simple as long as you plan and prepare correctly.
This article provides a step-by-step guide that will help your business move all communications to the cloud.
Define Your Business Goals
Before you begin, it’s important to lay out your business goals, including short- and long-term goals. Understand your reasons for switching to the cloud. Are you trying to provide streamlined communications for your workforce? Do you need to offer better services to your customers?
You might be trying to free up IT resources for other projects. Or give your employees the freedom to work from anywhere. These are all good reasons to make the change. Cloud communications offer numerous benefits, but when you know what you want to accomplish, you can better select the right phone solution for your organization.
What’s Your Budget?
Cloud communications are great but there are many cloud phone systems out there with various price tags. It’s important to know what you are comfortable with spending. Don’t forget to include hardware, licensing fees, and infrastructure costs. You’ll also have ongoing maintenance with some plans.
CapEx Vs. OpEx
A capital expenditure (CAPEX) means you purchase the hardware and software upfront. Any expense related to your phone service from cabling to voicemail and dialing features are your team’s responsibility to maintain. With OpEx approach, the costs are considered monthly operating expenses just like your electric bill. There are certain tax advantages to both.
Step-By-Step Project Timeline
Once you nail down your objectives and budget, it’s time to plan your cloud migration project. It goes without saying that you should plan this during a slow time of the year. If you have seasons where business slows down some, that’s the perfect time to initiate changes to your technology. Be sure to prepare your staff for the change as well. Make sure key personnel will be available for the switch so they can oversee important tasks.
Take the Time You Need
Give your staff ample time to plan, analyze, test and communicate and this will greatly increase the overall success. You can begin a full year in advance to review your current communications plan. Be sure to have your staff check contract terms for contract expiration dates and penalties. Plan your migration to coincide with the end of an old contract. With good planning, you can avoid paying penalties for ending an old contract early.
Select a Migration Team
A full 9 months in advance of changing, you can create a special team that will handle the various aspects of switching. Of course, a few IT people will need to be involved. But you should also select a manager or executive to oversee the project. They can make sure that things are moving along well and everyone understands their role. If problems come up, they can get solutions in place so there are no obstacles that turn into costly mistakes.
It’s a good idea to set up a special chat room for your group where they can discuss day-to-day problems. Microsoft Teams is a good app for that. It’s easy to set up a Team and communicate with everyone regularly. Important documents and information can be shared. Your migration team should include a few people who can train everyone on the new phone system once it has been installed.
Research Cloud Communications Vendors
About 6 months before the switch, it’s time to begin checking out all the phone systems available. For this, it can be helpful to have your IT department weigh in on the types of systems available, the cost and the features. You might also consider consulting an IT specialist. If you work with a local managed IT service provider, they can give you a thorough rundown of all the best systems, the pros and cons of each and the price tags.
Get Demos From the Top 3
At about 3 months before switching, you should have your list of potential vendors narrowed to 3 or so. Contact local representatives of each one and ask them to come out and show you their phone system. Be sure to ask relevant questions and make notes about each.
- How easy are they to use?
- Will training be included in the price?
- How frequently are new features released?
- How easy is it to add new users?
- What type of security does the system have?
- Is support included in the cost?
For most business owners, ongoing support is important. A cloud phone service is exactly that—a service. Choose a vendor who will support you through the initial implementation and offers multiple channels for ongoing support.
Installation and Implementation
You’ve done a good job of preparing everyone and getting the research done. Now it’s time for the phone provider to come out and actually install the new cloud system. Be sure to let your employees know what’s going on. Your Cloud Communications team should know by now what their jobs are and be prepared for any obstacles.
When you have a documented rollout plan, it helps to overcome last-minute snags that could interrupt everything and cause delays.
Now that the new system has been installed, it’s time to train your employees. Most Cloud phone systems are fairly easy to use. But there are lots of features that your employees should know about so they can take full advantage of the system. Expect a few weeks of questions as your team learns how to use the new system. After that, they should all be comfortable with it.
If your current phone system is holding you back, it’s time to explore new options. Good strong communications are important to your business success. Mitel delivers more than 2 billion connections every day and offers solutions that will support your business both now and in the future.
ICS is a valued partner with Mitel. We can consult to learn exactly what your company needs in terms of communications and then recommend a system that will more than meet your needs. We set everything up so that it best suits the way your employees work. If you need to add users along the way, it’s fast and easy.
Mitel offers a full range of high-quality cost-effective business communication solutions for small single location businesses to large organizations with multiple nationwide offices. The right phone system can increase mobility, utilizing unified communications within the organization.
ICS is very careful in selecting the communication products and services we offer to our clients. All products and services must meet the highest of standards. ICS is proud to sell, install and support products and solutions manufactured by Mitel.
For more information about Mitel products or services and how they can benefit your organization, please call us at (866)-427-4722 or Contact us! We serve Houston, San Antonio and Austin with best-in-class managed IT services including unified communications systems.