Ridiculous, right! I can remember playing that game in the neighborhood as a young kid. Do you remember? “My dad is better than your dad”, “My bike is better than your bike”… and on & on.
If I were to say “My phone system is better than your phone system”, would you care? Or would you just click DELETE and move on? I’m not here to beat my chest and proclaim that we have better technology than you, although it is pretty damn good.
I know I’m stating the obvious when I say “The solution you choose to acquire must be based on the one that best satisfies your requirements and expectations”. But you knew this.So what’s the best way to ensure you find the best match; especially when each vendor is trying to shine the best light on their product or service? Stay with me for a second while I expose a common and deceitful tactic.
Phone systems still play an important role in many organizations. So choosing the wrong system can be costly. And basing your decision on a familiar brand, the lowest price, or on a friend or colleague’s recommendation may come back to haunt you.
But you also have to be suspicious of the “me too’s” out there. Years ago, it was things like voice mail to email, or remote phones on a legacy digital system. You’d hear vendors say, “Yea, we can do that too”. Now it’s things like click-to-dial, desktop call control software, smartphone app’s, and Outlook integration.
VoIP systems and services are designed differently, and this can make your evaluation challenging and frustrating. But you won’t find this out until you “lift the hood” and take the system for a “test drive”. Or worse yet, after you install it. So take a closer look and be aware:
Not all VoIP systems and services are created equal.
Since you get what you pay for, it’s up to you to find the best match to your needs.
And a “me too” response without a thorough demonstration should raise a RED flag.
Let’s look at a few examples to illustrate the dichotomy you’re faced with:
- Cloud-based vs. Premise-based.
- A pure IP system vs. a hybrid digital system (aka legacy) with IP capabilities.
- One wire daisy-chain vs. a two wire separate network.
- It utilizes the industry standard SIP protocol vs. the older H.323 or MGCP VoIP protocol.
- VoIP is native to the appliance vs. it requires an additional card or module that’s “bolted on”.
- Applications are integrated vs. they’re developed and supported by a 3rd party.
These are all valid examples that may seem unimportant; especially if you haven’t had experience with VoIP. But in most cases, they are important. These are the things you NEED to know before moving forward with a provider because they associate directly to the functionality of the product and the total cost of ownership.
It doesn’t matter if you’re considering a cloud or premise-based VoIP solution. Once you make that important decision, then you need to explore the solutions in that “space” with greater focus. For example, if you’ve determined that leveraging the cloud for your voice is best for your company moving forward, you will find a huge disparity between recommendations, pricing, and implementation. And it’s not much different if you’ve decided that a premise-based VoIP server is better for you.
So when someone gives you a “me too” response, you should say: “Great, show me! I want details and I want to see exactly how this works on your system.” And if their demonstration lacks competence, ask why. I have to state the obvious again: If this is their technology and they can’t use it, how can you and your staff be expected to?
Today’s technology offers many conveniences including the aforementioned ‘click-to-dial’, desktop & smartphone app’s, Outlook integration, and ‘find-me/follow-me’. And just about everyone claims to have the ability to deliver these popular and time-saving capabilities. But you need to see for yourself how each manufacturer or service provider’s platform actually works, ’cause there’s a huge disparity. So compare your expectations for the features and functionality you require with how it actually works on their platform.
Today there are more technical factors to weigh and consider than you had to be concerned with the last time you evaluated new phone systems.
Here are a few areas to concentrate on:
- Feature / functionality: What are your “must-haves”? What are you doing today that you need to maintain moving forward? What’s available that you may not be aware of? Can some of your staff benefit from working remotely?
- Location: Should your next system be “in the cloud” or in your server room? This is not a one size fits all answer. There are pros & cons to each approach, so you need to be informed based on your circumstances and expectations.
- Wiring: Should you maintain a separate voice network? If so, do you have the infrastructure? If not, what do you need? If you decide to daisy-chain one wire, will your data network support high quality voice? The last thing you want to introduce is “unpredictable results”, so plan accordingly.
- Desktop call control software & smartphone app’s: Although just about everyone offers these, you will find after careful evaluation that many are unfortunately useless. So press the “me-too’s” for proof.
- Phones: Some have more buttons than others. After evaluating many systems, we find that the stronger the desktop app is, the fewer buttons you’ll have on the phone (and visa versa).
- Your existing carrier services: Do you have a term commitment in place that would preclude you from moving your services to the cloud or to a SIP trunking provider?
- Vendor: How much experience does your new vendor have deploying VoIP solutions? Do they offer a 100% no risk satisfaction guarantee? (We do!)
So in summary, do your homework and be thorough. There are a lot of cool new capabilities available, so it’s important to look beyond the shiny new object. And ignore the bogus competitive charts that compare 2015 capabilities to a 1980’s phone system. Really???
See the “me-too’s” for who they are – and call them out or throw them out! You and your company deserve to have a fair and honest evaluation so you can make an informed decision. Good luck in your search and let us know if we can help.