Organizations are rapidly equipping their workforces to productively work from home. Cloud meetings and team collaboration solutions are the most sought after telecommunications technologies right now for our clients’ IT leaders. The demand was already trending toward collaboration solutions, but now we are seeing a spike in demand to enable remote working, video and voice meeting solutions. Cloud meetings and team collaboration services allow organizations to abide by the homebound safety measures and enable employees to keep working productively and students to keep learning.
What are the keys to success with UCaaS telecommunications remote office deployments in our current pandemic environment?
Companies, schools, hospital, banks, and government agencies are measuring deployment in days and weeks, not months. Survival for many depends on their ability to enable their workforce very rapidly.
#2 Ease of set up
Clients cannot take the time to visit each team member’s home to set up a solution. Clients’ homes are too dispersed, and Covid-19 risks drive toward a solution that can be loaded from another location or is very easy for any user to set up and activate. Cloud based platforms effortlessly allow you to connect with customers quickly and easily, take your business on the go with mobile apps, be more productive on the devices you already use, and do it all at a reasonable cost. Moving to UCaaS can mean lower cost of deployment and implementation over time when compared to on-premises solutions. And because it’s in the cloud, you get new features and upgrades as they become available, usually as part of the basic subscription price.
#3 Ease of use
A good solution will allow a user to immediately begin to make and receive calls, set up conference bridges, and use video conferencing capabilities (if desired). The interface should be very intuitive…IT cannot afford to walk through basic functions with any significant percentage of users.
#4 Low cost
Cost is always an important factor, and it is critical in our current environment. For many sectors, revenues are down and costs must be reduced. Any new technology expense must be minimal. Unified communications provides a more manageable cost structure, as well as a lower acquisition cost. While hardware phones may be required or desired, many businesses get started by using a softphone or smartphone app that can replicate the functions of a desktop telephone.
#5 Project planning and project management
Proper planning and execution are essential for rapid UCaaS deployments. Clients will want to have project managers with specific UCaaS experience to drive all the interdependent steps and deliverables. Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) can be a robust solution that ties all your organization’s communications into an organized flow of business-critical data. UCaaS is not only your telephony solution, it is an omni-channel platform designed to improve your business processes and first-hand customer experience. UCaaS solution implementation takes thorough planning and detailed project management to unlock its full potential for your business.
#6 Call quality
While users do not expect perfect call quality, minimum acceptable thresholds must be met. Poor quality will cost your organization:
- Lost sales from dropped calls or poor call quality
- Lost productivity due to people not being able to join calls
- Unnecessarily long calls due to people having to rejoin calls
Consideration of the cloud communication provider – points you should investigate:
- The provider’s data center architecture and how much resiliency they’ve built in.
- Ask about their PSTN connections. Who are the underlying carriers? Do they continually test the connections? And do they route calls over the one with the best quality?
- Make sure the provider has tools that allow you to pinpoint and diagnose problems for quicker resolution. Cloud providers that understand the importance of voice quality typically provide these tools.
- Lastly, providers that place a premium on quality will offer strong service-level agreements that include financial penalties for failing to meet service levels.
#7 Features and Functionality
UCaaS services vary in depth of features. Not every solution is as robust as you might need it to be. Check to be sure the solution you’re evaluating has all the functionality you need for your employees to work at full capacity.
Any UC service should encompass these six functions:
- Voice and telephony, including mobility
- Meeting solutions - audio conferencing, video conferencing and web conferencing
- Messaging - email with voicemail and unified messaging
- Presence and instant messaging
- Clients - desktop clients and thin browser clients
- Communications–enabled applications - integrated contact centers, communications platform as a service and workstream collaboration
Understand your provider’s policy on ‘end-to-end encryption’ to ensure your communications data is always encrypted no matter what point of the journey it is on, whether it is in the data center, in transit, or being processed in the end user’s devices. End-to-end encryption doesn’t just stop people from accessing your data or eavesdropping on conversations as they pass through your provider’s data center…it also offers protection at all points in the system.
As you evaluate different UCaaS solutions, be sure you understand their minimum bandwidth requirements with each level of functionality. You will need to work bandwidth upgrades into your project plan and your cost models.
Businesses should use the 1 to 6 rule as a guideline for determining how much bandwidth would be required to support UCaaS. The rule of thumb is that businesses need to plan for one active phone call for every six users. So if you have 60 employees, there will be 10 ongoing calls at any given time. Toll quality calls require 80Kb per second, per call, so if a business needs to support 10 calls at a time, the upload / download speed for voice calls alone is 800K per second.
You may be able to limp along with some interoperability gaps for some time while we are in emergency mode, but you should at least understand the integration capabilities of the solutions you are evaluating.
#11 Know how / guidance
Most organizations need work at home telecommunications solutions immediately. IT departments do not have time to start from scratch evaluating different solutions and providers. This is probably the time to bring in an experienced consultant to partner with your team to very quickly find the best solution for your organization and help execute the solution.
Published on Thursday, April 9, 2020 @ 10:18 AM CDT