With so many phone system options available to you today, it can be difficult to know which solutions will meet your needs (and your budget). IP phone services have improved in quality and offer robust features. Options such as Cisco small business phone systems offer a wide range of capabilities at an affordable price point.
To make an informed decision about whether to upgrade or migrate your phone system, consider the types of phone systems available today, the features they offer, and how those features can enhance your business.
Types of Phone Systems
Phone systems for small businesses fall into two categories: landline systems and IP phone systems. Landline systems are traditional phone systems offered by phone companies. They require on-premises private branch exchange (PBX) hardware that needs to be maintained. Some phone companies are beginning to phase out landline offerings altogether.
IP phone systems use your business’ data connection to make phone calls. They typically offer a wide array of features such as call forwarding, voicemail, call queuing, and email integration. Many IP phone systems also allow mobile access through applications.
IP phone systems offer three options:
- On-premises: Your PBX hardware is housed at your business, and you handle maintenance.
- Hybrid: Hybrid phone systems use your current legacy equipment but enrich your system and its features with IP technology.
- Cloud-based: Cloud-based systems move maintenance and hardware over to your vendor, simplifying maintenance and management.
Many small businesses are moving to a hybrid or cloud-based IP phone system for affordability and ease of use.
What to Look for in a Phone System
As you consider the best type of phone system for your business, the following factors can help you evaluate potential options and vendors:
- Ease of management: Even though a vendor will typically do a lot of the heavy lifting, you may need to deal with day-to-day tasks such as resetting passwords or changing extensions. Look at how the back end of your phone system is managed. Ideally, it should be relatively intuitive and accomplish any tasks you need to manage with a minimum of clicks.
- Deployment time: No business can afford for their phone system to be down for hours. Look for a vendor that can deploy your new phone system with minimal downtime.
- Cost: On-premises and hybrid phone systems may require some up-front spending on infrastructure. Cloud-based phone systems typically won’t need as much up-front spending, but you may need to update your network to accommodate the system. IP phone systems also have an ongoing monthly cost per user. Large, reputable vendors typically offer a wide range of systems and solutions at a variety of price points.
- Scalability: Your phone system of choice should be able to grow with your business. Talk to your vendor about licensing plans that allow you to upgrade and that your phones will still work, even if you upgrade your system down the road.
- Collaboration tools: Today’s phones and phone systems offer more features than ever. Many are optimized for video conferencing, for example, which is a powerful tool for improving internal and external communications. Instant messaging is another feature to consider, as third-party instant messaging solutions often lack the security needed to keep your business data secure. Ask your vendor about which features are available to turn your phone system into a collaborative solution.
- Vendor reputation: How many businesses is your vendor supporting? How long have they been in business? Choose a vendor with a history of support and innovation. You need a vendor with a reputation for reliability and excellent customer support.
Based on these factors, many small businesses choose Cisco small business phone solutions. Cisco offers excellent customer service, scalability, and innovative features that turn your phone system into a collaboration solution.
Cisco Small Business Phone Solutions
Cisco offers a variety of phone systems designed with the small business in mind. These systems offer flexibility along with features that enhance communication and facilitate collaboration.
For example, the Cisco Business Edition 6000 (BE6000) is an all-in-one IP phone system that simplifies communication. It includes:
- Premium voice, video, and messaging
- Voice recognition
- Instant messaging
- Audio conferencing
- Video conferencing
- Contact center services
- Mobile integration
It’s scalable and comes with preloaded unified communication (UC) and collaboration applications that you can turn on as needed. BE6000 also includes Cisco Emergency Responder, which assures that emergency calls are correctly routed, and Cisco Expressway, a gateway that offers secure remote access to remote employees. BE6000 can be deployed quickly, minimizing disruptions to your business.
Expert Solutions for Your Business
Cisco offers enterprise-level features scaled for small businesses. To determine the right solution for your business, consider working with a third-party expert in communication and collaboration.
At IP Consulting, we work closely with small businesses to find the right solutions for their needs and their budget. We learn about your business goals and objectives, and we propose collaboration solutions designed to achieve your goals in company communication. We stay with you through deployment to adoption, ensuring your phone system solution is meeting your needs. As a trusted Cisco partner, we’re experts in their reliable, cost-effective solutions. Contact us today to find out more about phone system solutions for your business.