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How to Untangle: Do More with Less

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The recent recession has forced businesses of all sizes to face what remains a constant challenge for small and midsized organizations: How to do more with less.

For most businesses, the communication system is a mission-critical technology and a fundamental success factor.

Bargain-basement prices can be appealing, especially in tough economic times, but it’s important to remember that the upfront cost is only one part of the picture. Finding the right balance of suitable features AND costs without skimping on quality is a challenge that most SMBs know well.

Here are some recommended questions you should ask that cover four core areas when evaluating communications options:

Features and Fundamentals

  • What elements do you need to add or replace in your existing communications setup?
  • Does an all-in-one solution make sense for your business? Many all-in-one unified communications (UC) and collaboration solutions on the market are designed for SMBs and offer comprehensive feature sets at a reasonable price.
  • What business processes and productivity features must be integrated with the system? For instance, do you have a customer relationship management (CRM) system or other applications?

Infrastructure

  • In your current stage of growth, what makes the most sense for your operation: purchasing or leasing a PBX, or selecting a managed or hosted solution? If purchasing/leasing a system, does the vendor offer any financing options or flexible payment plans?
  • How much space does the equipment need? Will it fit within your existing office or will it have to be hosted elsewhere?
  • How much energy will it consume?
  • Do you have multiple locations or remote workers? If so, does the system offer mobility features and other advanced capabilities for all users, or only those in the primary business location?
  • Is the communications system centralized or distributed?
  • How reliable will the system be? What are its disaster recovery capabilities?

IT Support and System Maintenance

  • What level of technical expertise is needed to conduct standard functions like adding users and making changes or moves? Ease-of-use directly impacts the cost of training your staff or recruiting specialists to use the new system.
  • How frequently does the equipment need to be serviced?

Expenses and Upgrades

  • Can you scale the system as your business grows? What’s required—a full rip-and-replace, a software upgrade, or something else?
  • What is the vendor’s policy on upgrades? Are there discounts or incentives for existing customers?
  • What is the Total Cost of Ownership? Look beyond the sticker price and use objective industry tools for a clear TCO estimate on maintenance fees, software updates, operations costs, and other hidden or ongoing expenses.

If you’d like to learn more about how ShoreTel in particular can help untangle the challenge of your communications needs, please contact your local ShoreTel reseller.