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8 Critical Tips For A Successful Unified Collaboration Implementation

From the experts | Posted on March 8, 2012 by Lesley Morris

What business goals are you trying to achieve? Are you trying to improve service, cut costs, or drive revenue?

Migrating or implementing a new voice infrastructure isn’t easy. To be successful, you need to understand all the variables from hardware to software to how people will interact with the new system.

We’ve installed hundreds of telephony infrastructures for a wide range of customers right across North America and found that Unified Collaboration (UC) can provide great value. But, despite the value, there are some hurdles to jump over to ensure the best outcome of an implementation. Below, we’ve compiled a few of the common issues we’ve come across while helping customers that when not addressed, set back the implementation or result in increased costs later on.

  1. Confirm your existing network can support voice. You really need to complete a thorough review of your infrastructure, including determining which versions of routers and switches you have, the status of firewalls, servers etc.  A review  ensures your existing LAN has the capability to support an IP Telephony implementation, saving time and money later if you should discover that parts of your infrastructure are not up to handling the voice traffic.
  2. Make a list of the business features you need. What do you need and what are the nice to have’s. What are the dependencies’ within your traditional environment? How is the implementation likely to affect your contact centre and customer service processes? Can you further extend the return on the investment by addressing long distance charges with strategic partners, suppliers and customers?
  3. Check that  your UPS backup power system is able to support the PoE (Power over Ethernet) switch required by voice systems. Deploying inline power-capable switches with uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) ensures that IP phones continue to receive power during power failure situations. Also do you have QoS (Quality of Service) Compliant switches that support voice prioritization?
  4. Consider the age of the cabling within your building. Many older buildings have outdated cabling that won’t support the demands of a newer voice architecture. A minimum physical layer must be in place so that voice can run on top of data lines.
  5. Decide what language will be used when setting up auto attendants. This needs to be considered early in the design before implementation. If you’re looking at regionalizing for a multi-site and multi-lingual environment be sure to plan for this, too.
  6. Don’t forget security! Security on a voice network is only as a good as the security that exists on the underlying network. It’s difficult to fix a security problem after the fact and today threats can come from very sophisticated hackers or “phreakers” – hackers that specialize in disrupting voice systems. Make sure you have proper security procedures and technology in place to avoid disruptions.
  7. Create a cross-functional/inter-departmental project team. One of the greatest contributors to a successful, large technology migration or implementation is gathering an internal cross-functional team that represents users in every area in the organization impacted by the implementation. Not only will this help improve the speed of implementation but it also helps increase the pace of user adoption as representatives can help build company-wide acceptance.
  8. Plan your adoption strategy carefully. Just as important as the implementation is ensuring the adoption of the new system by users. An implementation can often affect staff roles and procedures and communications with customers. You need to consider training for end users that will ensure easy adoption of the new technology.

There are lots of other issues to think about when preparing for voice in your environment. At Softchoice, we’re helping customers uncover the best path of addressing each of these areas. Completing a Voice Readiness Assessment can help you map existing features and determine what new telephony elements will add value and address roadblocks before the deployment. What has your experience been? Would you add anything to this list? Add your comments below and share!

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