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Hosted or On Premise PBX System?

When purchasing a PBX system, it's important to note that not all systems are created equal. Some are geared tour smaller businesses with a minimal number of features. For larger businesses, a PBX must have scalability and more advanced features available. Much like buying a stripped-down version of a car, the initial cost of the PBX system may not be the only expense involved.

For smaller businesses, a PBX with basic features such as call forwarding, voicemail, auto attendant, and call conferencing are usually all that's needed. There are now virtual solutions that eliminate the need for the business owner to administer the system or maintain the hardware. This solution could be ideal for those businesses with 20 or less users. These virtual systems offer scalability for growth, portability for expansion or business moves and significant cost savings. Since these types of systems are IP-based, the calls are routed over the same network as data. This allows the small business owner to leverage his existing data network without incurring additional cost for separate circuits designated for voice. Most virtual PBX solutions have these basic features included.

For larger businesses, a virtual PBX system might work, however in most cases where call routing is more complex, a more robust system is required to provide a true return on investment. Any PBX system should provide the business with improved productivity and cost efficiency. It's not enough to merely purchase a PBX system and install it for use. If not configured correctly, a PBX system might end up costing the business owner more money in the long run. When talking about high call volume, it's imperative that the PBX system be configured to route calls in a cost-efficient manner. Least cost routing is the most desired form of routing calls and should be implemented whenever possible. The newest technology, voice over IP is the best way for the business owner to make the most of telecommunications expenses. This is because phone calls are routed over the data network and are not subject to the PTSN network costs. Calls routed using the PTSN are allocated cost depending on the carrier involved and where the call will end up. Since sending voice traffic over a data network is like sending an e-mail, these calls are not subject to the same charges. The cost for voice over IP calls are charged at the same rate as the rest of the data. In other words, the more bandwidth the business requires the greater the cost.

Determining the appropriate PBX system is largely going to depend on how a company conducts business and the expected call volume. Having phone system hardware that can handle the expected demand is essential for any successful communication solution. Future growth should also be considered when purchasing a PBX system. If the call volume is expected to increase very quickly, it would be wise to allow for this additional volume in the initial purchase. Most of the time PBX vendors will offer the best prices during initial purchase and installation. This is where the business owner would want to take advantage of these lower prices and add any additional hardware that might be needed in the near future.

Whether a hosted solution or an on premise PBX, the issue of support should be addressed during the purchasing phase. Maintaining a system that is functioning efficiently and consistently is key to

maintaining high levels of productivity. If your phone system is not working correctly, it can create frustration on the part of customers and employees alike. The question of who will resolve the issue or make changes to the system must be answered ahead of time to minimize potential downtime.

In many cases, PBX vendors will offer support as part of a purchase and installation package. If the business owner does not have personnel that are knowledgeable in the maintenance and troubleshooting of the PBX system, then it makes sense to purchase support provided by the PBX vendor. However, it is essential that a service level agreement be signed so that both the business and the vendor know what to expect and to establish an understanding of expected response time. Having a service level agreement ensures that the business owner can expect resolution to any outages within a reasonable amount of time.

As part of the installation of purchase process, the type of communication attached to the phone system should be discussed. In a virtual or hosted PBX system, this issue is resolved by the use of IP- based trunking and should be included in the quoted price. For an on premise PBX, communication to the PBX can be set up in numerous ways. Consulting with a knowledgeable vendor will help to answer these questions. Since communications for an on premise PBX are not included in the purchase and installation price, it's imperative that the business owner become aware of the cost of any solution that the PBX vendor might recommend.

Finding an appropriate PBX system for your business becomes much easier when the needs of the business are considered. Take the time to assess how your business handles calls and how many calls are made and received each day. This information will help a qualified PBX vendor to work with you to find the best solution possible.

 

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