Unified communications is a business solution that describes the integration of multiple services like video conferencing, data sharing, emails, voicemail, presence, voice, instant messaging, and SMS. It aims to provide a consistent interface and experience for users, no matter what the media or the device used.
Finding a UC provider who can tailor the right package for your company (with the right add-ons, licences, and enhancements) can be challenging, especially if you’re not exactly sure what you might need. So, here are ten key questions you should ask to identify the service provider best equipped to deliver a successful implementation.
How will they align the UC solution with your business goals?
What you’re hoping to see here is some evidence of a thorough process that doesn’t leave any stone unturned and has been proven to work elsewhere. Does it cater to your current business practices as well as provide a stable platform to build towards your long-term goals? And is the methodology restricted to engagement with only a few areas of the organisation, or does it engage all relevant stakeholders?
Do they support external collaboration?
UC is designed to enable companies to make the most of internal collaboration. But a lot of businesses need to work with external contacts (consultants, suppliers, freelancers, etc.) who might be on different platforms or using various providers. Make sure you’re getting a solution that offers consistent performance, as well as security, beyond the firewall.
How will you be able to manage the UC solution?
You want to be able to manage the end-to-end performance, not only the configuration and tracking of changes, no matter what the applications. You should also be allowed to do this using management tools across both desktop and mobile devices.
What’s their disaster recovery process?
No business can afford to lose their data. Avoid any catastrophes by making sure your UC service provider has a reliable disaster recovery process in place. And we’re not just talking about a backup of the data but rather a comprehensive disaster recovery as a service that will ensure continuity of operations in the event of any natural or man-made failures.
How secure is the security?
There will be a lot of sensitive (potentially confidential) data shared between parties during the process. You have a responsibility to make sure your service provider has security policies in place to cope, supporting things like data encryption, access-based restrictions, real-time monitoring, and intrusion detection.
How’s their relationship with the vendors?
You can never tell what the future holds, and it pays to prepare. Should you ever need second-line support or vendor escalation, it will be incredibly useful to be working with a UC provider that already has a good working relationship (or even partnership) with the product manufacturer. In the short term, this also has the benefit of potentially reducing implementation problems and increasing the speed of delivery.
Will your UC be agile?
An excellent service provider shouldn’t lock you into a particular UC plan. There should be enough flexibility built in to allow for your business goals—as well as technology—to evolve. A service provider with their own data centre and cloud infrastructure should be able to offer your business the agility it needs, providing UC that’s both scalable and flexible.
Will the UC be restricted to specific devices?
Again, this is a vital part of any modern business. We all use multiple devices every day, from our mobiles to laptops to tablets and computers. Any UC provider has to be able to provide a service that is inclusive of all devices and delivers the same high-quality experience on each one. If they can’t—forcing users to use different applications on their devices to those used on-site—move on.
What’s their systems integration experience?
This is a no-brainer. Any service provider you hire simply must have proven experience of systems integration with a range of software and hardware, such as email servers, CRM, and office apps.
Can they utilise your existing systems?
Any good, cost-efficient UC provider will make the most of the systems you already have in place. Don’t let them throw away everything and start fresh unless it can’t be helped (for example, most desktop or cordless phones will be dated and incompatible with modern platforms). There is often some software or hardware that can prove valuable to the new unified approach.
Want to know how APH can help design and implement the perfect UC service for your business? Get in contact and one of our consultants will talk you through your options.