Now available to businesses of all sizes, VoIP is experiencing rapid market adoption, offering the ability to reduce costs, improve productivity and streamline network management by converging voice and data communications over a single IP network. However, investigating and understanding the options available and deploying VoIP technology can be a challenging undertaking for many small and medium-sized businesses.
To help information technology and telecommunications managers address this issue, XO Communications has developed two new educational resources: The XO webcast "What Every Small and Medium Sized Business Should Know About Implementing VoIP" and companion XO white paper, "Ten Steps to a Successful VoIP Implementation: What Every Business Should Know
". These resources outline the various factors that should be considered in determining when and how to implement VoIP as well as what type of VoIP solution is best for varying business needs. The webcast and white paper are hosted and authored by Tom Cross, a telecommunications industry expert and member of the Board of Technical Advisors for the VoIP Security Alliance. Cross is also founder and president of TECHtionary.com, the world's first and largest animated library on technology.
"Many small and medium-sized businesses that are considering VoIP are unsure of how or where to begin the process," said Vince Margiotta, vice president of product management at XO Communications. "Not all businesses have the resources or experience to develop a framework for deploying VoIP. These tools are designed to help IT and telecom managers and provide an easy roadmap that can serve as the basis for their decision making process and implementation of VoIP."
The XO webcast and white paper outline the following ten-steps for evaluating and implementing VoIP:
- Identify Business and User Needs. Identify the business goals to achieve and assess end-user needs based on how they can best achieve overall goals, such as increasing productivity, improving service levels, increasing revenue and reducing expenses.
- Understand How VoIP Works. Understanding of how VoIP works provides the context to the entire implementation process and helps improve communications internally and with potential vendors.
- Assess Your Network Situation. Understand what you have in your network and whether each component of your network is ready to support VoIP.
- Identify the Right Partners/Providers. Develop a checklist that evaluates service providers based on such factors as coverage, experience, product and service options, web-based tools for managing the service online, consultative approach, creativity, implementation expertise, and support.
- Designing the Solution. In general, there are four types of VoIP solutions available to businesses: IP-enabled Integrated Access, SIP Trunks, Managed IP PBX and Hosted IP PBX solutions. Choose a solution that meets present and future needs for conduit and cabling, external connections, and changes.
- Select a Proposal. Develop a proposal checklist that considers the service provider's depth of services, user needs evaluation, total cost of ownership, customer references, installation scheduling, financing options, performance penalties, training, cost, support, future growth and warranty.
- Install and Test. Develop an installation and testing checklist to help ensure a smooth installation and minimize disruptions.
- Manage Service and Support. Make sure that your provider offers training for your employees and a backup plans in the event of service failures and outages.
- Understand Your Bill. Understand how you will be billed. Will all of your invoices be on one bill? Will you have online access to billing history and usage data? Will you be able to pay bills online?
- Consider Future Options. See if your provider has an evolutionary product path in place to ensure an easy transition to a more sophisticated or larger system as technology changes and your business grows.
XO Communications is a leading provider of VoIP solutions to businesses. More than 10,000 businesses nationwide in more than 55 major metropolitan markets have deployed XO's award-winning VoIP services bundle, XOptions Flex. Launched two years ago, XOptions Flex has rapidly grown to be one of the most widely deployed VoIP services bundle for small and medium-sized businesses and large enterprises with remote offices. As an integrated IP services solution, XOptions Flex offers businesses all the benefits of IP with enhanced features, functionality and value for voice, Internet access and web hosting services all in one simple package.
To view the webcast or obtain a copy of the white paper, go to http://www.xo.com/stresspr/10steps.html