Buying a phone system is an important investment. You must put careful consideration into price, potential for growth, and ability to find replacement parts and accessories. Of course in today's business world, many SMB's are opting for a cloud-based system, but is that the right solution for you?
How much should I spend?
The first thing customers ask about when searching for the right phone system is price. How much will it cost me? The answer depends on a few factors, number of lines, equipment and more importantly features. Features can range from call groups, conference bridging and voicemail transcribing to 800 numbers, faxing options, and so on. All these are going to increase the price whether you're using a cloud-based system or in-house hardware based phone system.
How many users?
The number of lines or users is very important especially if you're a new business. One benefit of a cloud based system is that you can often upgrade or add a user with relative ease. With a hardware based system it's all about the licensing. If your license allows for 30 users and you're only using 20, well you can add another user with ease. However, if you've reached the max number of users you're going to have to get additional licensing which can get a bit pricey. There are benefits and drawbacks to both business phone systems - but the determining factor for me is the number of users.
Purchasing the correct equipment
Every now and then we'll have a customer who attempts to install a Toshiba DP5022-SD phone into their home via an analog line. The problem with this is you need a Toshiba Strata phone system in order for the DP5022-SD phone to work. That may seem pretty obvious to those of you reading this article, however, a small business owner search for their first phone system may not realize the importance of compatibility.
Cloud based systems and their SIP compatible equipment allow more freedom. Digital systems of the past were very strict, and although they offered some nice features, it was a pain installing a 4 port analog module just to add a Polycom conference phone or other analog device. Companies like Vonage and RingCentral support tons of VoIP phones and brands such as Polycom, Cisco, Yealink, Digium and more. Want to add a conference phone? Just install an ATA adapter and you're set.
So what am I trying to get at? If you or your IT department can install a phone system, you have nothing to worry about. If you can't, a cloud based system may be perfect for you because of the broad compatibility.
Additional equipment required
Some of the popular systems nowadays are the Allworx 6x, Adtran 7100, and Asterisk open source systems. The Adtran 7100 is an IP communications platform - meaning it serves as a phone system, router and PoE switch. Finding modules and equipment for this unit, just like the Allworx 6x, is relatively easy. However, if you buy an older system like the Comdial DX-80, it may not be so easy to find an AMP4 module, or 8 port digital line module. Of course the Comdial system may be cheaper, but that value savings will nearly disappear if you can't find a backup module required to operate your system.
This is why I put such a high value on the ability to find backup or replacement parts. The newer business phone systems may cost more money, but it saves you time and does provide superior functionality.
So what should I buy?!?!
My opinion is this. If you have less than five employees, check out a cloud based system. You probably won't need a ton of expensive features, plus you can buy refurbished IP phones from us and save a ton. If you have more than 5 employees, compare the two and do careful research. You can always call us for more information. If you have over ten employees, check out a phone system like the Allworx 6x or ESI IVX 128E.
Looking for more information? Need help choosing the right phone system? Give us a call at 1-800-957-3387 or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.