Business Phone Systems: Should VoIP Be Implemented Gradually or All at Once?

An old-fashioned corded phone waiting to be replaced with new business phone systems.

As with any significant change to your business operations, making the switch to one of many VoIP business phone systems for your telephony service requires some planning and forethought. This is especially true given the fact that businesses are so dependent on smoothly functioning phone service. You need be able to maintain communications with customers, business associates, and suppliers, and your internal users need to be able to contact each other about relevant business issues.

That makes it essential that there’s no significant downtime associated with the implementation of your VoIP service. Even though implementing VoIP is relatively easy to accomplish, there are a few things to be aware of which can add a level of complexity to the process, or make it more time-consuming.

Larger companies especially, with multiple domestic sites or even international locations, will find the process to be a bit more involved. It’s also true that companies who have employees working from home, or who travel a great deal as part of their jobs, will need to be integrated into the VoIP network, so there’s no loss of productivity there.

In short, some planning and consideration should be given to the process before implementation, to avoid making mistakes which could result in a loss of productivity, and at least a temporary disconnect with all business contacts.

Make Use of Your Trial Period for new Business Phone Systems

It’s a good idea to test out all the available business features and services before rolling out to the general population in your company, regardless of whether you intend a broad rollout or a staged rollout. The majority of VoIP service providers will be happy to give demonstrations or to allow you test runs or trial periods to help you get acclimated to your new services.

During this pre-production phase, you can evaluate how each of those services will function in your business environment. This is an important test, because services which work fine in an ideal, controlled environment, may not be quite so smooth and efficient in your real-world office workplace.

To be sure that everything is working as it should, you should have a checklist of all features and services you plan to make use of and test these out one at a time for functionality. It’s also a good idea to check out all services provided, whether you intend to use them immediately or not. It’s very likely that at some point in the future, you will have a need to make use of some of those extra services, and at that time you’ll want them to be ready and available, without the need for any servicing or tweaking.

If your company is a startup with fewer than five employees, that’s practically a no-brainer – of course, you can roll out new business phone systems to the entire company.

Is the ‘All at Once’ Approach Right for Your Business?

One of the first things to consider when trying to answer this question is the level of complexity associated with your business. If your company is a startup with fewer than five employees, that’s practically a no-brainer – of course, you can roll out services to the entire company. For this scenario, the only thing needed is service from a hosted IP vendor and a reliable Internet connection. Employees can download the mobile app to their smartphones, and immediately begin making calls with their business phone numbers.

Since a startup company would have no real telephony infrastructure to remove and replace, there won’t be any extended implementation process. You won’t even need to arrange for employee training since everyone can easily consult online documentation made available by your business phone systems provider.

Surely, though, there are a great many other types of company profiles than the five-person startup company, and that makes the rollout question a little trickier. If you have multiple locations, for instance, it instantly becomes much more of an issue when considering the breadth of your rollout.

In a situation like this, it might well be more advantageous to roll out in stages, because it gives you a chance to iron out any glitches before the entire workforce is affected. One approach you might want to try is to start on a few employees in one office with one of the available business phone systems or to enable service for a single department. By localizing the service, it’s much easier to identify problems and react to them before introducing them to the masses. A broad rollout which is plagued by one or more problems can have a far more significant impact on your business productivity than would a much more localized deployment.

Another advantage of a staged rollout is that you’ll have a much more explicit indication of whether or not employees require some instruction or training. If you can see that employees are doing fine without the need for guidance, the likelihood is that most people in the company will also pick up on the technology fairly quickly. This is also the time to point out how employees can access seminars and online manuals to clarify any issues they might have, so you can observe how the self-education process works. If it becomes necessary to supplement these measures with in-house training, you’ll have time to set that up before rolling out to the masses.

One last advantage of a staged rollout is that you will be able to identify any possible security issues that arise and to see if any vulnerabilities exist in the network, before opening it up to a broader audience.

In essence, the question of how a VoIP service rollout should be conducted boils down to this: for very small companies, an all at once approach is fine, but for larger and more complex companies, a staged rollout for new business phone systems using VoIP technology is almost always more beneficial.

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