No matter the industry you operate in, easy and effective communication is essential – whether that’s with your clients, suppliers, or internally, with colleagues. However, many companies have introduced communications tools in an ad hoc way resulting in a fragmented infrastructure that includes legacy telephony, instant messaging that doesn’t integrate with operational applications, and erratic video conferencing.
This scenario is how demand for unified communications (UC) and collaboration solutions arose – to consolidate disparate and unreliable communication channels and deliver a consistent user experience across a single user interface. An even simpler model for businesses is to consume UC and collaboration via the cloud as a service.
With UCaaS calls, chats, and videos combine to make one service, which means that instead of businesses having to purchase these separate services from ten different providers, they can now use a single provider for all services.
There are countless benefits of UCaaS. Not only does it offer the streamlining and integration advantages of UC, where communication channels are centrally managed and feed seamlessly into one another, it also provides the elastic scalability and cost-effectiveness of cloud delivery models.
But how should your company best transition to UCaaS? Your roadmap should include five stages:
1. The business
It would be best if you began by considering the business as a whole, asking what its objectives are, and how you see the organisation developing over the coming years. This will allow you to create a set of critical business requirements, which not only feed into more strategic procurement but also will enable you to check back at the end of the process to ensure that your chosen solution is on track to achieve everything you need.
Only then should you start thinking about the functional requirements of your UCaaS solution. Do you need to be able to facilitate virtual meetings, and if so, between whom? Do you need to be able to invite external third parties to work on certain documents, or keep things internal only? Do you need instant chat capabilities? What about polling colleagues and providing feedback? This should help you avoid choosing a UCaaS solution only because it replicates functions that already exist in your organisation, and instead focus on the capabilities you need to achieve your business goals.
- There’s a wide range of tools to include in your solutions including:
- Web conferencing and virtual meeting spaces
- Interactive whiteboards for effective collaboration
- Real-time presence systems and instant messaging
- Enterprise collaboration platforms
- Video services for conferencing including full telepresence solutions
- Voice-based applications like telephony, IVR and voicemail
- Text-based tools like texting, instant chat, and email
At this stage, you can start weighing up different technology solutions and considering how they will be deployed from a technical perspective. You should carry out a network readiness assessment and identify any new ports or protocols you will need to open to support the new technology.
It is sensible to pilot a new UCaaS solution before rolling it out across the entire organisation too – as such you may end up running a UCaaS solution in parallel with an older UC or disparate communications technologies for a certain amount of time.
As with any technological change project, it is vital to foreground the role of your users in making the deployment a success. Communicating the new implementation to your staff, training them in how to use it, gathering feedback on how the new technology is working, and applying that feedback appropriately are all key parts of adopting a UCaaS solution. Some staff members are likely to pick up the new solution immediately, while others will need additional help and may be prone to falling back on old technology in the interim.
5. The operation
Once a UCaaS solution is up and running, you need to make sure that security, compliance, and disaster recovery are considered. UCaaS should, in theory, make disaster recovery even easier than an on-premise communications system. Still, you will need to take some responsibility for formulating a disaster recovery plan and communicating this to all stakeholders.
If you’d like to discuss your company’s communication requirements in detail, then get in touch with MLR Networks.