Better Communication Creates Better Business.
There’s no getting around the fact that a reliable office phone system is the backbone of every successful business. An effective communication system is crucial for establishing a link with your customers and the rest of your team.
The communication technology world has gone through a series of revolutions and has taken huge leaps forward since the earliest form of phone systems available to us.
So, where did it all start?
Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS) is where it all started. They are also what we call analog phone systems, and they consist of traditional landlines installed by your local telecom. Analog phone systems had been in use for a very long time– approximately 20 years from 1980 to 2000.
As you may have already gathered from the name, this form of phone system functions the same way it did more than a century ago. Sound is transmitted using electrical pulses on a wire. These wires connect to the phone service provider.
Voices can only travel through the dubbed copper wires, and they are also subject to bad weather, installation, and expensive long-distance charges. If your phone goes down, your business is cut off from current and potential customers, and you are at the mercy of the telecom while you wait for your service to be restored.
But what if there was a better way? A more reliable way? A way that could provide more stable service, more features, and lower your monthly phone bill all at once?
That’s just what upgrading your phone system from analog to VOIP can do.
As internet connections and networking have improved around the globe, more companies are turning to VoIP technology that helps fuel business success. The VoIP technology hits all the pain points – it lowers costs, increases flexibility and user mobility, and provides a wealth of business-enhancing features like instant messaging, conference calls, and easy integration with other business systems.
We know, upgrading your phone system is no small feat. Before we jump into the available VoIP options and the must-consider elements, it’s important to understand how a VoIP phone system works in the first place.
How Does a VOIP Office Phone System Work?
VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) is an IP (internet protocol) telephone service that converts your voice into a digital signal, allowing you to make and receive calls directly from a computer, a VoIP phone, or other data-driven devices. It transmits its data over an IP rather than through a traditional analog phone line. Such IP technology has made it possible for companies to streamline business communications with reduced call costs and improved efficiency.
There are two primary types of VOIP phone systems used by businesses around the world: hosted (cloud) and non-hosted (on-premise) systems.
Hosted (Cloud) VoIP Phone System
Hosted PBX or Cloud Phone Systems take the form of software or web application and work with the help of an internet connection. They don’t have a physical PBX system. Instead, a virtual PBX hosted on the cloud keeps their engine running. There are no upfront costs for the hardware, instead, you pay a monthly recurring fee and any changes you need to make to your system.
If you want the best of the maintenance-free small business VoIP systems as well as have a toehold on the future, cloud phone systems are ideal.
Some benefits of choosing a cloud-based system:
- No upfront cost for equipment (only installation/set up)
- Fixed monthly fee
- Flexibility to expand or reduce your system and add or remove features by adjusting your monthly rate
- Unaffected by outside factors such as severe weather – very reliable.
Non-Hosted (On-Premise) VoIP Phone System
An on-premises VoIP phone system is one where the PBX hardware is kept on-site in your server closet. Instead of physically connecting to the PBX with copper wiring, phones connect to the PBX over an office’s Local Area Network (LAN), often leveraging the same Internet connectivity that your office computers do. When you choose to go with an on-premise system you own all the hardware; it’s yours to buy, sell, upgrade, discard and maintain as you so choose.
Some benefits of choosing an on-premise system are:
- All equipment is housed in your business. You have full control.
- Re-configure your system without needing to coordinate with your vendor
- Data is stored on-site rather than in the cloud
- The total lifetime cost of equipment is generally lower than cloud systems
For a more in-depth comparison of cloud and on-premise phone systems, click HERE.
What is SIP Line Technology and What are its Benefits?
Regardless of whether you choose a cloud or on-premise phone system, all VOIP systems use SIP (Session-Internet-Protocol) lines. At their most basic level, SIP lines, or SIP trunks, are merely conduits that use the internet rather than traditional physical phone lines to connect you with the broader world.
Cost Savings – A Cheaper Way to Talk Business
SIP lines offer a host of benefits over a traditional analog phone line. Financially, businesses that move to a phone system using SIP lines rather than analog phone lines will often reduce their monthly phone bills by as much as 30 percent.
SIP lines are financially more efficient because they are considered a shared resource, meaning that each unique phone number your business has does not require a phone line. You only need a SIP line for each simultaneous connection you would want.
Since SIP lines connect through the internet, they can provide long-distance calling for typically a fraction of a traditional long-distance calling plan.
Global Potential & Mobility – Work from Anywhere
SIP supports your organization’s need for fast growth across multiple geographic locations. By combining your voice and data into a single network, your organization’s geographic locations and remote workers can be consolidated. The fast scalability of SIP also offers a lot of flexibility as more and more companies are accommodating full-time remote workers in the post-pandemic world.
Unified Communications – Ride the Wave of Next-level Communications Efficiency
The advent of VoIP technology also ushered in an entirely new paradigm for business communications and collaboration – Unified Communications (UC) – where a unique feature set of communications capabilities are combined into a single integrated platform, enabling businesses to communicate with their team in entirely new ways, at a lightning-fast pace.
A UC-capable business phone system can come in handy in various scenarios. By integrating telephony, conferencing, text messaging, cloud sharing, presence, clients (both desktop and mobile), and more capabilities into one, it enhances business cost-efficiency and productivity in an unprecedented way.
How Much Does an Office Phone System Cost?
As you can imagine, how much a new phone system is going to cost your business can vary quite dramatically depending on just how many phones and phone lines you will need.
However, by breaking down just what factors into your final price, we can come up with a pretty accurate estimate that you can use to budget for a new system.
If you’re opting for a cloud phone system, you will be charged on a per line, per month basis. This monthly fee will include both the user fee as well as the cost of the hardware.
Regular phone lines range from $20 to $50 each per line, per month, or $240 to $600 per year.
Another option available to you for cloud phone systems is to buy the phone upfront and simply pay the monthly user fee and any other added service charges going forward.
From our experience, you should budget approximately $350 per desktop phone you require, but if you want an advanced or wireless phone, your price could be as much as double for each handset.
When it comes to on-premise phone systems, you need to account for the upfront cost of a PBX system. The average PBX system typically costs approximately $4500 depending on the configuration.
To put this price in perspective, let’s look at a pretty typical SME with ten employees. They want ten handsets and one PBX to run their system, so they should budget a total of $8000 for the full system.
Choosing the Right Solution (For an Upgrade or a Brand-New Set-Up)
Choosing the right phone system for your business is a huge undertaking, especially for small businesses with limited budgets and resources. There a certainly a handful of things you should consider to get yourself on the right track. This part outlines the 3 most important components to consider with practical tips to save you time and effort.
1. Features – Does the phone system offer what your business really needs?
Modern times call for modern solutions. Make sure your phone system can keep pace with technological change. And aligning the features available with your business needs is crucial. If critical telephony features like conferencing and call recording are missing or cost extra, then the product may not be the right solution. Consider the following features to stay ahead of the competition:
Call Management: Basic features like call routing/ forwarding/ recording, queue, emergency number, and Time Condition should be equipped to support business core tasks.
Mobility: Allow employee devices to be integrated with your phone network. In most cases, desktop and mobile softphone apps are provided to support on-the-go and remote workers.
Unified Communications: Outfit your team with instant messaging, conferencing in one single platform to empower greater team collaboration.
2. Ease of Use and Management – Do you have extra IT resources for phone system management?
If you do not have dedicated IT resources, you want a phone system that is easy to set up, use, and manage. Small business phone systems, either cloud-based or on-premises, will make configuration and maintenance simple with a web-based control panel.
Ideally, with a top-rated phone system, you can make changes like adding extensions for new users in minutes and without having to rely on professional IT resources.
A phone system will slow you down if your communications technology cannot keep up with business demands, like adding users, the opening of new office locations, and other third-party business application integration.
Consider how your business may grow in the coming year. Look for these features in a phone system to ensure that upkeep requires minimal effort:
Remote Management or Managed Services (if you do not have a dedicated IT team)
Online Control Panel: So you can report any issues and get the support you need without extensive downtime.
3. Cost and Investment – Does the cost of a new phone system make sense for your business?
When starting fresh in a new office, it only makes sense to take the opportunity to upgrade your telephony capabilities at the same time. Since you are starting with a blank slate in the new space the cost to remove an old system is eliminated, and the cost to move to a new system is the lowest it will ever be.
Upgrading your phone system might be an excellent decision for your business if you are interested in reducing your monthly phone bill. After switching from a traditional phone system to a phone system using SIP lines, our customers save upwards of 30 percent, on average.
Nervous About Upgrading Your Phone System?
Upgrading your phone system is a big decision; for many small businesses, your phone is your direct line to your customers (and potential customers). If your phone isn’t working, neither is your business… so if it isn’t broken, don’t try to fix it, right?
In the video below, we explore the four questions and concerns that our customers are most worried about when considering replacing their phone system and how they may or may not be a viable risk to your business.
Test if a New Phone System is Right for Your Business
You’ve evaluated the pros and cons of a new phone system, but how do you know it’s the right call for your business? Will it truly reduce your monthly phone bill? What will be the ROI over the next two or three years?
In our years of selling phone systems, we have found only one method that will definitively answer whether an upgrade will deliver a positive ROI for your business. That method? A third-party audit of your phone bill.
We have conducted thousands of these phone bill audits, and we would love to help you complete one as well. We offer this service completely free; all we charge is a few minutes of your time to review the results together. Are you interested yet? Book your complimentary phone bill audit today!