Part 2: Learn About Your General Business Requirements

I'm going to ask you two important questions in this section.  After which we should have a good grasp on what your general business requirements are.  Then we can proceed, like I mentioned in the previous part, into your technology requirements.

What is the perception you want to convey to your customers?

In other words, what image do you want your customers to have of your business?

We at Telco Depot always suggest you have a live person answer.  This method is friendly, open, and warm.  Most businesses today thrive on the human element--you build a rapport with your customers.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is the tiny little business that wants to appear giant.  You can use an automated attendant to accomplish this.  If you're unfamiliar with the term, automated attendant, what I mean is when a person calls they hear, "Press 1 for sales, 2 for support, 3 for accounts receivable, and 4 for public relations."  This can give the appearance of a larger company.  But we don't suggest this method, because most people can see right through it.

How big is your business?

There are three parts to this question.

Firstly, how many physical lines do you have coming in currently?  If you've already decided on VoIP over standard phone service, then make a note of how many proxies you have coming in, and how many VoIP lines are you going to have with your provider? (Please read our guide to VoIP for further information.)

Secondly, how many phones are you going to need?  Start with the number of users/employees you currently have.  You may want to also add a phone for your conference room, office kitchen, warehouse, etc.

Lastly, what kind of growth are you expecting in your company?  Ask yourself what is a realistic expectation for 6 months out?  And 3 years out?  But don't go beyond three years.  The typical lifespan of a phone system is five to seven years.  Why?  There are a couple reasons, tied to technological changes, and phone system depreciation.

Along the same lines, don't try to plan for company growth in the extreme.  You'll have a difficult time finding a phone system that will efficiently accommodate a growth from 10 to 10,000 users.

What you should consider is if you'll be adding any additional incoming lines.  Make sure your phone system can expand easily.  Similarly, if you plan on adding 10, 20, 50, or even 100 additional phones, is the phone system limited by the number of phone stations it can handle?

If you are expecting this kind of growth, plan on spending more upfront for your purchase.  This way, when it comes time to expand, your overall costs are much, much lower.

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