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How to Select a Hosted VoIP Provider – Our Simple Checklist
Posted on: 2017-02-24 | Categories: VoIP Services
Migrating over to hosted VoIP often appears to be a hefty project with big budgets and long schedules. But that depends entirely on the size of your business, the type of solution you need and your existing infrastructure. Smaller companies can switch over in little more than a week and some even manage it in less than a day! Larger businesses take quite a bit more time as you would expect.
There is another important factor to consider in moving away from PSTN based phone systems – your hosted VoIP provider. Their expertise and experience will also determine how quick and easy your project will be. Selecting a vendor can be tricky however and it’s not helped by the sheer number of choices you have. How do you narrow down your list from the hundreds of similar services out there?
That’s why we’re bringing you this handy checklist. Some of the items in here are common to any vendor while others will be specific attributes you should look for depending on your business requirements.
Selecting a Hosted VoIP Provider – Simple Checklist
- Experience and expertise
- Quality and reliability
- Service uptime
- Scalability and adaptability
- Service responsibility
Experience and expertise
Some of the questions you should ask include:
- How long have they been in business?
- What’s their track record?
- Who are their former and current customers?
Many hosted VoIP providers focus on particular industry segments (banking, health etc) or types of organizations (small business, multinational etc). Choose a vendor that caters to the segment you operate in as they would already know potential problems and have figured out the solutions that fit you.
Quality and reliability
Any vendor you select should provide high quality audio and make sure your phone system won’t go down at the slightest hint of a problem. After all, you rely on your phones to get things done and contact customers, partners, suppliers and other entities. You don’t want your customers to consider your business unprofessional due to bad audio, frequently dropped calls or tied up phone lines.
- Do they offer HD voice?
- What backup options do they have in case of problems?
- How do they ensure your call quality doesn’t suffer during peak traffic times?
- When do they schedule maintenance?
- How much downtime do they expect to have in a year?
- What are the terms and conditions of their SLA?
Contractor agreements generally have SLAs built in which guarantee service availability to a certain level. Make sure to go over the fine print carefully so you know the vendor’s responsibility and your remediation options if anything should happen.
Scalability and Adaptability
- Can they grow with your business?
- Do they keep pace with industry innovation?
This aspect depends on your business needs. If you expect your business to grow rapidly over the next few years, you should select a vendor that can adapt as well. Maybe you need to make frequent changes to your service and need to do it quickly. Pick a hosted VoIP provider that emphasizes flexibility in their plans and service. It may cost you a bit more, but it will be worth it. If the ability to make quick and frequent changes isn’t important to you, then why pay extra for it?
- Does the sticker price reflect all costs accurately?
- Do they offer unlimited plans for domestic and/or international calls?
Your vendor should be upfront about the cost of the service to you. Whether they charge by volume or features, the final bill shouldn’t come as a surprise. So plans may charge you a flat rate until you add a certain number of lines and then charge by number of calls etc. Make sure you’re aware of such terms before you sign up for any service.
Some companies are willing to pay more to get all the features they need. Other businesses may have a strict budget and want to find a vendor that can provide suitable plans at the price. Whatever be your preference, make sure the vendor is a good fit for your budgetary needs.
- How hands-on are they in managing the system?
- What aspects of the service do you need to figure out on your own?
Even within the hosted VoIP industry segment, there are all sorts of providers who offer different types of managed plans. Some are extremely hands off – they expect you to know what you’re doing and maintain your systems. They just give you the proper equipment or software and you’re on your own. Others offer a fully managed service – they take care of everything from setup, deployment, maintenance and even help with expanding your communication network when your needs change.
As you can see, the important thing is to talk to the vendor and test their service before rushing into hosted VoIP. Everything else will fall into place after that!