Buyers Guide : Business Phone Systems

Small Business Phone System: the Ultimate Buyers Guide

Small Businesses have a broad range of options when it comes to selecting a business phone system, especially since VoIP phone systems and SIP Trunks have evolved.

To help you understand your available options, know what to look for, and get started with a phone system that best suits your organisation, the following guide will help.

♦ How does a Business Phone System actually work?
♦ Your Options – Small Business Phone System Types explained
♦ What to look for in VoIP Systems

How does a Business Phone System Work?

Basically, business phone system often uses a “controller box” called a PBX (private branch exchange), which switches and connects calls within your business. The telephone system may be configured to auto-routes calls based on pre-configured rules, so that when someone dials your business, they are directed to certain extension/s automatically.

Traditional analogue/legacy PBX phone systems used to connect to copper phone lines to communicate, and had limited feature sets. The ability to use internet bandwidth for phone services has brought about SIP-based VoIP phone systems that allow you to make voice calls using a broadband Internet connection. These systems connect to your LAN, just like any other device (computer, printer etc), and –in addition to providing internet connectivity-  deliver improved efficiency thanks to the advanced features, and significant  call costs reductions.

Your Options – Small Business Phone System Types explained

Small business phone systems typically come in 2 different types: On-Premises (PBX) or Off-Premises (Hosted or Cloud)

  1. On-Premises Systems

These can be either (a) the older/legacy Landline “Commander Phone System” types that work only with copper lines; or (b) new VoIP-technology systems that work with BOTH the old copper lines AND the new SIP-Trunks.

  • You may be wishing to retain your copper-line type PBX, and get a few more years return on your investment in that hardware – Do not be misled by NBN resellers and VoIP companies that tell you that you cannot connect VoIP or SIP-trunks to your old phone system.

All that is needed to connect NBN lines, SIP trunks or VoIP services to your existing phone system is a VoIP Adaptor.  These telephone adaptors simply interconnect the two technologies, enabling you to move forward with your Trunk services, yet retain the existing hardware.

Be aware, though, that although your existing analogue system may be very robust, they lack many of the latest phone system features, such as voicemail-to-email, mobile-phone connectivity and so on.

Best for: Businesses that are committed to squeezing the last dollar out of their investment in their existing phone system, and have little requirement for advanced telephony features like voicemail-to-email; mobile-phone integration, video calling, etc.

  • Future-proof your Business today, by replacing the old system with an NBN-ready, fully SIP-enabled VoIP system that has native ability to connect/use the old copper-line services; Then, when NBN or other broadband services become available, switching the lines from copper to VoIP is real easy, without any outages whatsoever.

Our on-premises VoIP systems for small businesses deliver all the benefits of modern VoIP technology: reduced call costs, mobile integration, and features like IVR, call queue with “reassurance”, multi-party conference calling, videophone integration, web-applications, and call recording to list but a few.

Best for: small companies that want to future-proof their communications with a sophisticated, yet affordable phone system that allows them to move forward in technology and expand at their own pace.

  1. PBXaaS/Hosted PBXs or Cloud Phone Systems

PBXaas (PBX-as-a-Service) or Hosted-VoIP, or “Cloud Phone Systems” – call them what you will, offer maintenance-free, hassle-free systems where the “PBX” or “connection-box” sits in the cloud (in a secure Data Centre), looked after by us – leaving you free to concentrate on your business.

Cloud/PBXaaS systems are the way of the future. As they are constantly updated by our development team, your phone system never goes out of date – it just keeps getting better and better, at no extra cost!

Best for: Businesses that don’t have IT staff to operate and maintain the phone system. Great for businesses that operate with Fixed-Cost Budgets, that like to know exactly what their phone costs will be each month. Extremely quick and easy to deploy, making life easier.

What to Look for in VoIP Systems

Before you spend your money, here are some things that you need to know:

  1. Costs and Investment

There are up-front costs, and there are ongoing costs; You need to consider the total cost of ownership, and what –if any- of your existing infrastructure can be re-used.

Up-front and monthly/ongoing costs:

  • Hosted/Cloud VoIP phone systems usually have a lower upfront cost and are typically charged as a monthly fee per user/extension.
  • On-premises VoIP phone systems have a higher upfront cost, but a lower recurring monthly fee.

Total Costs of Ownership: This depends on whether your business will grow significantly, and the time that you expect to keep using it for, before your next upgrade. We will show you the costs of both options, and –with your accountant’s advice- you can make a well informed decision.

  1. Features

To be perfectly honest; all the VoIP phone systems on the market today offer all the same (very advanced) features.  It’s a very competitive industry, so you’re going to get the same features and accessories with any of our options as you would with any other. The most important feature, then is the SERVICE and Support that is offered.  All the fancy features are no use at all if you’re not shown how to use them, and get assistance with using them whenever you need.

  1. Your valuable time

You and your staff have more important things to do that fiddle with phones, trying to get them right, and finding the best ways to work them. A Cloud-Hosted system saves a great deal on IT-labour costs.

If you are the kind of business that has their own dedicated IT staff that can manage and administrate the phone system themselves, then our on-premises VoIP systems afford them full access and capability to do that – Backed-up by our own Support Team when they need that extra bit of assistance (or are away on leave).

  1. Future-proofing

You need a phone system that will last into the future, and grow with your company as it grows, without reaching a capacity-limit that requires a hardware update.

Hosted/Cloud VoIP solutions are incredibly scaleable; adding extra extensions is as easy as calling or emailing us. Most premises-based PBX’s, however, have capacity limits, although generally these very easily extended at minimal cost.

  1. Disaster Recovery

All SIP-trunks have the ability to automatically redirect calls in the event that a part of the connection fails (that could be the internet going down at your office, a LAN-switch failure, a modem/router failure, or PBX/Phone failure).  Calls will simply fail-over to a mobile.

With Hosted/Cloud phone systems, you have the added advantage of being able to re-connect to the cloud ANYWHERE that there is internet;  So, if you needed to work from home, simply unplug your phone, take it home, and continue working from there, just as if you were at your desk (*security features need to be enabled)

Next step?

Give us a call to discuss which options best suit your business. We are happy to come and look at your business and its needs, and help you find the best way forward.

Give us a call now on 1300 67 68 01.