A Buyer’s Guide to Choosing a Business Telephone System
If you’re in the market for a new business telephone system, there are a few questions you should ponder to lead you on the right track. In this article, we’ll go over these questions and help you answer them. The questions you should be asking yourself are:
- Do you need physical phones on your desks to operate. or would your employees get by using a virtual phone number on their mobiles?
- If you do need desk-phones, what kind of service would suit you best? You could choose a traditional business telephone system, provided by a telco or a dealer company such as ourselves. Alternately, you could choose a VoIP system which you can get from a number of suppliers.
- If you’re opting for VoIP, do you want it kept on the property (on-premises) or hosted by your service provider (cloud-based)?
We’ll help answer these questions in the article, but if you’d like to speak to an expert about this click here. Later in this article, we show you how to apply those questions to choosing between these types of business telephone systems:
Traditional Business Telephone Systems (Landlines)
In this case, we refer to traditional business telephone systems as landlines. They are typically supported by telephone companies, though if you are a Brisbane based business, you should contact us to see how we can improve your experience! Landlines, or public switched telephone networks (PSTNs) are analogue systems that run over normal telephone lines. To run a traditional landline system, you’ll need an on-site PBX (private branch exchange). This piece of hardware provides support for internal extensions and call transfers. There are some landline systems that are actually hybrids, partially utilising VoIP. In these systems, the phone line is connected to the business’s data network, which in turn connects to the individual phones. It is worth noting that traditional business telephone systems are being phased out by telcos and may eventually go the way of dial-up internet.
- Pros: They’re reliable, have stood the test of time, and are what most companies are most comfortable using.
- Cons: Most providers are moving away from this solution, meaning it can be difficult to get them repaired or serviced.
- Advice: These systems are suited to larger companies with the budget to pay for the hardware as well as IT consultants who can service them. They are also a necessity if your business doesn’t have a high speed internet.
VoIP Business Telephone Systems
These systems run over your internet connection rather than traditional phone lines. They boast a feature set which previously required expensive top of the range PBX hardware. This includes automated attendents, call queues and integration with computers. This computer integration allows calls to be sent to email inboxes, and allows you to use your computer as your business phone. VoIP also gives remote workers to access the business phone system from their mobile devices.
- Pros: VoIP provides an advanced phone system with all the features of a large corporation’s landline service. They’re cheaper than regular landlines and significantly less painful to configure.
- Cons: These systems rely on a stable internet connection. If your internet connection drops out, so will your phone system.
- Advice: These systems are great for smaller businesses that want to have the same level of functionality for their business telephone system as a larger corporation, or who have remote workers that need access to the phone system. Make sure your internet connection is reliable before committing to this option though.
If this is the option you’re going for, the next decision is to determine how it will be hosted. Read further for advice on this.
Virtual Business Telephone Systems
These systems are the most basic type of VoIP system. They are essentially an extensive call forwarding system that routes calls to the main business line to either the employees mobile or home phone. These systems can work well for home offices with a decent internet connection, but be careful if you live with other people outside of the business. These systems still provide a variety of features however, including automated receptionists, voicemail, call forwarding, call screening and more.
- Pros: These services allow businesses to present a professional image, even when working offsite.
- Cons: Virtual phone systems aren’t full fledged phone systems, and since they work by forwarding calls, you will be paying for calls on your home or mobile phone, as well as the virtual phone line.
- Advice: If your business has workers that work offsite most of the time or you’re a home office, then this solution may be for you.
Cloud and On-Premise VoIP Systems
With on-premises VoIP, the hardware used to run the system are kept (as you’ve probably guessed) at the business premises. This arrangement requires a large upfront cost since you’re purchaseing the equipment that runs the VoIP connection. Because of this, you only pay a one time fee for the hardware, but you will still have to pay the ongoing costs of SIP trunking which allows you to make and receive calls with it. With this solution, your IT staff are responsible for maintenance, repairs and updates.
- Pros: You control your service, so you are only relying on yourself to keep it going. You can also configure it exactly the way you’d like.
- Cons: You will pay a significant upfront cost for the hardware. You also need to have IT staff capable of maintaining the system.
- Advice: This solution is suited to those who have an in-house IT staff and are hoping to have total control over their system with immediacy.
With a cloud based system, you don’t have any maintenance or expensive hardware to worry about. The service provider houses, maintains and updates all of the PBX technology for you. The cloud makes growing your business easier by alleviating the headache of needing to upgrade your PBX hardware or add new lines manually. For this type of service, businesses generally pay a monthly fee on a per-user basis.
- Pros: You needn’t purchase or maintain the expensive hardware that is otherwise a necessity. In fact, you don’t even need a desk phone (although that certainly is an option), you can set up your computer to work as your desk phone.
- Cons: You’re not in control of the hardware. If the system has an outage, you need to trust that the service provider will bring it back up in a timely fashion.
- Advice: This system is well suited to growing businesses that are on a fixed budget and who don’t have an in-house IT team to maintain and operate the PBX hardware. It is also a great option for businesses who want a stress free setup of a new phone system with all the features of that of a large corporation.
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