Learn from other businesses who have already been through a VoIP roll out. Standing over someone else's shoulders, so to speak, will help you avoid their mistakes and glean tips that can make your own deployments go more smoothly.
The following 10 tips will reduce the amount of time, money and headaches that can occur during a VoIP roll out:
- BUY TIME: Anticipate problems even if it appears the VoIP deployment will be a smooth one. Things don't always happen as planned, so add a buffer into your plans. For example, one business ordered an OC-3 circuit from their carrier, which took an extra six months to install. The business had to get by with a DS-3, which was a lot less bandwidth than they wanted.
- GET EVERYBODY ON BOARD: Assign business-unit leaders to oversee the VoIP project team so they know the details and can communicate them to their employees. This reduces the switchover time as well as reduces user training.
- KNOW WHAT YOU'VE GOT: Educate yourself on what your business' network infrastructure consists of. Find out what hardware you have and whether it will support technology that can improve voice quality.
- TEST PHONE COMPATIBILITY: Make sure all the desktop phones have power and switching (PAS) capabilities and can be powered via standard Power over Ethernet (PoE, 802.3af is the IEEE standard). The phones also need to have built-in LAN switch ports, which will enable a single LAN cable to support a desktop PC and IP phone. If Gigabit Ethernet is also required, be sure the IP phone port has 1000Mbps.
- BANDWIDTH CONTROL: If testing shows a need to increase bandwidth, consider upgrading from Fast Ethernet to Gigabit Ethernet. Even if an upgrade seems like too much right now, forecast if an increase in network traffic will be on the horizon which could warrant such an upgrade.
- USE THE RIGHT CODEC: To reduce the amount of bandwidth VoIP service requires, businesses have a selection of codecs to choose from that take the voice stream and encode it for transmission over network wires. While codecs can be as little as 8Kbps or as much as 64Kbps, businesses need to listen to a variety of them to determine which ones produce acceptable quality. If bandwidth is limited, it's important to choose the codec that is the most acceptable and uses the least amount of bandwidth.
- DIALING 911: It's important to know emergency personal can't trace calls placed on a VoIP service. While the VoIP knows its IP address, it doesn't know its physical location. The phone could be anywhere and moved from one network jack to another. Because of this, emergency personnel could be sent to the wrong place. To avoid this problem, it's recommended you tie phones up to an analog phone line if you can.
- SIMPLIFY TRAINING: Large VoIP roll outs require large numbers of users that must be trained to use the new phones. Documentation is very important. Using pictures with instructions, such as, "Here's your network connector, here's the back of your phone, now plug them into each other." Also, having a list of FAQs helps reduce help desk calls.
- GATEWAY TO SAVINGS: Consider limiting the deployment of IP phones to desktops, leaving other areas such as fax machines, hallways, loading docks or exam rooms with low-cost analog handsets with analog-to-IP gateways, for connecting the traffic to the VoIP network.
- CONSIDER SOFT PHONES: Use these for certain types of employees, such as tech-savvy users or those who regularly work from different locations, i.e., branch offices, home offices or on-site with customers.
- REMOTE CONTROL: Determine how remote management applies to your IP PBX. Can the same tools be used on your IP PBX or call server to remotely manage, reboot and configure mail, files, and print servers?
In summary, plan ahead when considering a roll out of VoIP technology at your place of business. Nothing is more of a killer to a business, than wasting time and, most importantly, money on poorly planned ideas. Do your homework!About the Author:
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