The business of organising a functional office space is easy enough, but having the correct telephone system in place will save you time and money.
So here’s a basic guide to office phone systems, and how to choose the right system and supplier for your organisation.
Your Communications Requirements
Before choosing a phone system, you need to assess what features you will need. Factors you should consider include;
- How many employees will be using it
- Your budget and a cost-benefit analysis
- Compatibility with a current system
- Ease of use and technological knowledge
- How many calls employees make and receive
- Your location
- Your internet speed
- Features that will be useful to you
- Your prospective business growth
Types of Business Phone System
Most useful for businesses of 40 or more employees, a PBX (Private Branch Exchange) system works through an organisation’s internal phones automatically. It can also integrate with IT equipment, although separate networks are normally necessary for voice and data communications. An IP PBX system works over a LAN or WAN data network.
Key System Units (KSU)
A KTS is basic phone system suitable for up to 50 users, incorporating multiple lines. Unlike PBX systems, the user must manually select outgoing lines, use intercom and conference facilities.
Hybrid Phone Systems
Business phone systems have developed quite considerably in recent years, so it’s worth noting that the distinction between PBX and Key Based Systems has blurred. Modern hybrid business phone systems incorporate the features of a traditional key system with digital signalling, known as SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) and ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network) which allows the transfer of simultaneous voice and data traffic, digitally. This enables the user to use services such as VOIP and multimedia conferences.
VOIP (Voice over Internet Protocol)
VOIP calls are sent over an IP-based network or the Internet and do not use traditional phone lines that charge you per minute. VOIP phone systems require only a broadband connection and a suitable internet phone. Options for using VOIP include a VOIP telephone with an ethernet or USB connection, a VOIP adaptor used through a touch tone telephone and IT network, or through Skype software.
The features of a basic business phone system include:
- Conference Calling
- Speed Dial
- Auto Attendent
- Hold Music
- Call Waiting
- Name Directory
- Call Forwarding (including to mobile phones)
- Voice Mail and Remote Voice Mail
- Call Logging and Recording
- Do Not Disturb
More advanced features of IP enabled phones include integration with computer systems such as CRM software and Click to Dial.
Choosing a Phone Supplier
When choosing a company to supply your business with a phone system, you should always find out the following;
- What kind of after service and technical support or training they provide
- Installations they have carried out for similar businesses
- Cost of hardware, software, support and maintenance
- Willingness to advise you on a system most suitable for your needs
- Additional costs for upgrading your system if likely in the future
- Any usage costs not covered by the agreement
Rob Rudd enjoys writing for the business and finance sector and contributes to several websites. When he is not writing he enjoys spending time with his family in Hampshire, England.