How to Buy a Business Phone System

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1 How to Buy a Business Phone System An Inside Guide to What You Need to Know When Choosing a Business Phone System Digitcom Canada Rimrock Road, Toronto, Ontario, M J A T:. - or... E:

2 How to Buy a Business Phone System 2 CONTENTS Introduction 3 7 Key Concepts You Need to Understand. 4 Key Concept 1: Voice over IP 4 Key Concept 2: TDM/Circuit Switched Phone Systems 5 Key Concept 3: Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) 5 Key Concept 4: Analog Business Line 6 Key Concept 5: Primary Rate Interface, Digital, Fiber 6 Key Concept 6: DID s Direct Inward Dial (DID) numbers 6 Key Concept 7: SIP Trunking (Session Initiation Protocol) 7 Phone System Features To Consider 7 Voice Mail Features: 7 Call Centers (ACD): 7 Unified Messaging: 8 Silent Call Recording: 8 TAPI and CRM Integration: 8 Hot Desking: 8 9 Questions to Ask Before Selecting a System 9

3 How to Buy a Business Phone System 3 Introduction Help! You want to buy a new phone system for your office. Now you have started doing some research only to realize that all of the options and conflicting information you have received has you more confused than before you started. Now where do you turn? This report should help. We are going to lay it all out. First we ll explain the concepts Voice over IP, circuit switched all of the confusing terms you might come across as you research phone systems. Then we ll look at some of the more popular features you might want to make sure are available in your new phone system. Features like: Call Center queues (some people call them hunt groups or ACD s), Unified Messaging, silent call recording, conference bridges, interactive voice response, wireless handsets, and integration with tools like Outlook and other CRM packages. While you read this report some issues might come to the fore which will help you better understand the phone system market and features. A properly designed phone system, just like a properly designed computer network, or properly organized business plan, requires an understanding or where you are at today, what is potentially missing, and where you are looking to go in the future. Where you are looking to go? Where are you looking to take the business? How will the phone system assist with future plans of where you are looking to take the business? Do you need a call-center? Are you looking to centralize reception between multiple offices? How important is redundancy to your design (and how important is the phone system to your day to day business operation)? Before embarking on a path of purchasing a new phone system you need to understand where you are going from a business perspective. For most companies the phone system is their most important means of day to day communication. Unfortunately for many companies, they do not treat their telecom requirements as such. The point? Have a plan formulate that plan as you read this report. Understand where your business is going, and how the phone system plays a part in the future of the business. We hope you find the information valuable, and if you have any questions please us at or call us direct at

4 How to Buy a Business Phone System 4 7 Key Concepts You Need to Understand. Key Concept 1: Voice over IP IP means Internet Protocol, or in the data world, means packets. Essentially, what happens in VoIP is that voice packets are compressed into streams of data packets (IP packets), sent along the data path to their destination (the person at the other end of the phone), uncompressed, and played back at the other end. Now, that is a very simplistic explanation, and encapsulated within that very brief description are some fairly critical underlying issues which need to be further analyzed. The key term in the above explanation is Data Path. What data path are the IP packets getting sent to? If the data path is the Internet, then the voice is subject to the vagrancies of the Internet itself a poor quality data path will result in a similarly poor voice quality. If for example, the data path that the voice is getting transmitted to and from is excellent, then the voice quality will in turn be excellent. Perfect costs money in a VoIP world. Some VoIP users connect home workers to branch offices in Montreal, Vancouver, Chicago without any problems whatsoever. Other VoIP users connect two offices together, one two blocks away from the other, with terrible voice quality. If you use the Internet as your point of medium, then, your voice will be subject to the vagrancies of the Internet. A VoIP Formula: Terrible Internet / data communication Terrible Voice

5 How to Buy a Business Phone System 5 Amazing Internet / data communication Amazing Voice Otherwise known as: Gargage In, Garbage Out Key Concept 2: TDM/Circuit Switched Phone Systems A Circuit Switch phone system, sometimes knows as Time Division Multiplexed (TDM), essentially means that the communication from the handset to the phone system (control cabinet) is all done in a controlled manner. In a TDM world the voice packets are not sent along as data packets all of the communication is controlled. That means no lost packets, delay, jitter, echo that is because the phone system controls the mechanism between the handset to the switch. By the way, having a TDM phone set at the desktop doesn t necessarily mean that the phone system itself doesn t support Voice over IP. Most major manufacturers have small and enterprising systems that support both TDM and IP-based sets often on the same system. Key Concept 3: Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) The PSTN is the network of the world s public switched telephone networks. Originally a network of fixed analog telephone systems, the PSTN is now almost entirely digital, and now includes mobile as well as fixed telephones. Trunks, PRI, and analog lines are all examples of services in the PSTN network.

6 How to Buy a Business Phone System 6 Key Concept 4: Analog Business Line An analog line is the traditional type of PSTN access from the telco. The line coming in from the home would be considered an analog line. The analog line is being rapidly replaced by the PRI as the telco line of choice for most small to large businesses. Key Concept 5: Primary Rate Interface, Digital, Fiber PRI, sometimes also called Megalink, digital, or fiber, is a TDM, ISDN type (circuit-switched) type telco service which is rapidly replacing the older style analog line. The PRI is a digital service, which means that the sound quality is near perfect. A conference call with a digital line sounds near perfect. All three, four, five (or more) people can hear each other perfectly. Unlike and analog line, call display comes in immediately on a PRI service (essentially before the first ring). Call display on an analog line comes in only after the second ring, so, in an analog world the first two rings need to be suppressed, providing the illusion to the outside caller that the company doesn t answer their phones that quickly. Key Concept 6: DID s Direct Inward Dial (DID) numbers This is a feature offered by the telephone company which allows a range of numbers to be connected into the phone system and route directly to an individual s phone, bypassing reception and the automated attendant entirely. By way of example, each extension off the phone system may be assigned a seven-digit external telephone number. Someone who knows the DID of the person they wish to reach can connect directly to that person. DID s are only available on PRI service. When people give their work number and say it is a direct line, often what they mean is that it is a DID.

7 How to Buy a Business Phone System 7 Key Concept 7: SIP Trunking (Session Initiation Protocol) Let s simplify this otherwise somewhat complicated concept. SIP Trunking is the mechanism used to connect phone lines into an organization s business telephone system, and is emerging as a viable alternative to legacy (TDM PRI and analog lines). A SIP trunk is essentially a telephone line, or series of telephone lines and DID s brought into the office over a broadband (Internet) connection. The problem with a SIP trunk, which must be addressed, is that since the telephone line is coming in via a broadband / Internet connection, the quality of the data line from the organization s offices into the SIP providers premises is absolutely critical. (Remember the VoIP rule). Phone System Features To Consider Real Estate is dictated by the mantra location, location, location. The mantra for phone systems is features, features, features. Every customer purchasing a new phone system will obviously look at the features available within the system. This very often becomes the driving point behind the purchase of the system. Features, features, and more features. Here are some of the more salient features available. Voice Mail Features: Automated Attendant - An automated attendant allows callers to be automatically transferred to a user s extension without the intervention of a receptionist. Multiple User Greetings - This will allow your users to have multiple greetings set up in their mailbox Menu Trees This will provide callers with a menu of touchtone choices. Call Centers (ACD): The term Call Center (synonymous with the term Automated Call Distribution ) is often misunderstood. Essentially, a call center is a mechanism that allows calls to hold for the next available operator.

8 How to Buy a Business Phone System 8 For example, does your company answer the main lines with a receptionist, or do you answer with an automated attendant? Does your receptionist ever get overwhelmed by the volume of calls incoming calls? If the answer is yes, then, where do those calls go? A call center can be used even in this scenario. Unified Messaging: This means is that you go to the same spot, usually Outlook, Lotus Notes, or Groupwise, to pick up all of your , fax, and voic messages. Silent Call Recording: Ad Hoc - A system that supports ad hoc silent call recording will allow users to press a button on their handset and record the call in progress. Full Recording - Full recording will allow for all the company s incoming and outgoing calls to get silently recorded. TAPI and CRM Integration: Telephony Application Programming Interface (TAPI) is a Microsoft protocol allowing integration between the phone system and a TAPI compliant software package. Let s say that you are running Outlook, or a CRM package like Tigerpaw Software. Both of those products are TAPI compliant. What this means is that you can dial directly from your Outlook contact by clicking on the phone icon from within Outlook. Your phone will go off the hook and automatically dial the number for you. Hot Desking: Hot Desking will allow you to go to any phone on the phone system, either within the office, or within the wide area phone network, and log your extension into the system. So let s say for example that you are at extension You can go to any phone, hit a key, type your extension 2222 into the phone, enter a password, and now that phone takes on the physical entity of the extension The extension might have been But now it is Conference Bridges:

9 How to Buy a Business Phone System 9 A conference bridge will allow all users to call into a central number at the organization s site and enter an extension number, followed by a password. The callers into the bridge will all be conferenced together on the same call. Interactive Voice Response (IVR): An automated voice system that interacts with a database to provide information in a voice form from a database of information. Banking by phone is a typical example of an IVR application. 9 Questions to Ask Before Selecting a System When selecting a phone system price is always an issue, but only to the extent that all of the other criteria has been met. Features are always important, so just make sure that the solution you are looking at has all of the features you need. Vendor selection is extremely critical to a successful deployment. Great system but poor implementation will leave your users frustrated. Reliability is probably the most important issue provided all of the other criteria have been met. People expect 100% up time from their phone equipment. Anything less is unacceptable. Before you select a system, keep these additional questions in mind: 1) What issues is your business currently facing? 2) What kind of growth are you expecting over the next few years? 3) Do you need a call center? 4) Do you want to spend a few extra dollars and purchase a desi-less phone? (A desi-less phone is a handset without a paper insert.) 5) Is your infrastructure (cable) ready for VoIP? 6) What is your budget for a new system? 7) What system do you have currently? (Some of the products have extra trade-in rebates depending on the product you are currently using. 8) Do you require financing? Some manufacturers have special financing in place. 9) Are you open to a hosted VoIP solution?

10 How to Buy a Business Phone System 10 The purpose behind this report is to empower you with the information you need to make a wise decision in choosing a business phone system. The proper selection of a phone system is important for the efficient running of company communications, and this decision should never be taken lightly. These guidelines will help you to select the right phone system for your needs.

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