SMB Telephone System Buyer’s Guide

Defining Your Business Needs
There are three basic kinds of business phone systems: Traditional PBX, with a box on your premises; “Hosted” PBX, where the box is at a vendor site, and Virtual or Cloud PBX, where PBX is a service rather than a box, and it’s hosted in “the Cloud” (similar to many of the applications you already like Amazon, Gmail or LinkedIn).

Small business phone systems are available in a variety of configurations, offering an ever-growing range of features and benefits. The most advanced small business phone systems today run on Internet Protocol (IP) networks—the same network many small businesses use to connect employees, devices and information resources.

But how do you find the right small business phone system for your company? And what’s the best way to deploy it?

There are many things to consider when evaluating and implementing a new small business phone system.

  1. Understand what your users need. The right small business phone system can give your people the tools they need to be more efficient. Does your workforce need easy access to rich-media conferencing tools? Do workers need one phone number that simultaneously rings on multiple devices? It’s important to know which tools your workforce needs, so you can choose wisely among the many small business phone systems available. Among the features and capabilities to consider are:
    • Video conferencing
    • Mobile softphones, for using a computer as a phone
    • Automated attendant
    • Paging and intercom
    • Presence technology—the ability to quickly identify who within your organization is available at any given moment, as well as the best way to reach them
    • Wireless IP phones, enabling workers to access data and be easily reachable, even as they roam about a sales floor, warehouse, or other location
    • Integration with a customer relationship management (CRM) system
    • Unified messaging, with notifications by e-mail, text message, or phone
  2. Be prepared for change. A new small business phone system can help your employees do things that were not possible before, and that can change the way you conduct daily business transactions too. For example, using wireless IP phones, your sales floor staff can quickly check if an item is in stock in your warehouse, without ever having to leave a customer’s side.
  3. Talk to your trusted advisor. Consult with your local service provider or reseller to ensure that your phone system’s features and capabilities will meet your company’s short- and long-term business goals.