A cloud VoIP system (Voice over Internet Protocol), is a phone service that runs online. Having a cloud set-up allows your employees to use all of the features from wherever they have internet access, whether in the office or not. When a VoIP phone system is designed and implemented correctly, the technology can greatly reduce your phone costs and increase your business efficiency.
From our experience of designing, configuring and installing cloud VoIP systems, we have put together a step-by-step guide of how to successfully implement a VoIP system from an IT perspective, regardless of who your underlying carrier is.
Follow our step-by-step guide to cloud VoIP implementation success:
Step 1 – Check & understand your internet connection
The first step in successfully implementing a cloud VoIP phone system is making sure you have enough bandwidth from your internet provider.
Cloud VoIP uses between 30kbps to 150kbps per phone call (upload and download speed), to have a quality phone conversation. As a rough guide, you should expect about 30-50% of your employees to be on the phone at any time. To determine the minimum dedicated bandwidth you will need to simply multiply the number of people in your organization by the bandwidth per call. It is also important to factor in your computer and browsing needs.
Most problems with VoIP can be traced back to the internet connection and the internet service provider, which makes understanding your connection the cornerstone of a successful cloud VoIP implementation. Speed is one of the most important factors to understand here and we suggest using an online VoIP review speed test to determine the speed of your connection. The speed test runs a variety of tests to review how efficient your connection is with real-time results. Speed is important since VoIP requires bandwidth to run. If it's too low or intermittent, you will not get a good VoIP connection, no matter how good your provider is.
Step 2 – Implement a second internet connection
As the success of your cloud VoIP system relies on the strength of your internet connection, implementing a second line will ensure that in the event of a problem with the primary internet connection, the backup connection can continue to support your VoIP service. Adding a second internet connection will ensure that most of the root problems surrounding a cloud VoIP system are prevented from the offset.
Step 3 - Check your local network
In peak times, you need a system that can handle a high volume of calls. One way to manage this is to set up a Firewall that can handle two ISP connections. The advantage of having two ISP’s is that you are able to automatically switch them over when demand is high or when you can’t afford disruptions to the network. You also have the option of using both ISP’s at the same time in periods of high volume.
Having multiple layers of redundancy ensures connectivity, appliance availability, and seamless failover for branch sites. If your network is critical to your business then this is one feature that you don’t want to skimp on.
Step 4 – Choose your cloud VoIP carrier or provider
Choosing your cloud VoIP carrier or provider is the most important step in this list. Start to narrow down your choice by writing a list of ‘must-have’ and ‘nice-to-have’ features. Some of the features you might want to consider are; extension to extension dialling, a smartphone app, fax services and an auto-attendant. Once you have compiled your list, take a look at the top cloud VoIP providers or contact us for a free VoIP business consultation.
It’s important to choose a provider that can offer all of your chosen features and in fact, choosing the best quality provider often saves you money in the long run, even if the initial upfront implementation cost is higher. Be aware that the low-end providers tend to route your VoIP calls in the cheapest possible way – which may have a knock-on effect on the quality of your service.
Step 5 – Ask for a demo or free trial
After narrowing down the field, ensure you make the right choice by taking advantage of a demo or the free trials that are on offer with many providers. During your free trial, make test calls to ensure that the quality is to a high enough standard. It’s also important to check the admin/customer service support of the provider to get a feel for what it would be like to operate in real time. A free trial will also give you valuable insight into the inner workings of each provider, allowing you to make a more informed and business-focused choice.
If you have complex functionality requirements and/or need call center features, ask the provider or your IT consultant to show you the demo of a working system or even ask them to customize one for you, per your specifications.
Step 6 – Check the security of your network
Once you have made your choice, you should be working towards establishing the security of your cloud VoIP system to safeguard you against infiltration.
Your cloud VoIP provider has the responsibility of ensuring that their system servers are protected by industry-level encryption and session border controllers. This level of security acts as a firewall for your phone calls. We would also suggest you add a cloud encryption gateway and require passwords on your network to deter attackers.
Step 7 – Maintain the quality of your service
One of the benefits of upgrading to a cloud VoIP system is an improvement in the quality of your calls as well as a reduction in cost.
However, even with taking early precautions to ensure your internet connection is strong, the system can still falter. It’s important to involve your IT team or your outsourced MSP provider in monitoring your network continuously. They should set-up automation alerts to notify you if the quality of the network is affected and be able to advise you of necessary actions to correct the issue.
Step 8 – Measure the quality of your cloud VoIP service
Measuring and maintaining the quality of your cloud VoIP service should your main priority once you have successfully implemented the system. This will ensure that you understand the benefits of the system and you can see what should be improved/changed for the future.
To measure the quality of your VoIP service, ask your provider for an MOS score. An MOS score is a Mean Opinion Score which looks at the quality of the network from a human perspective. This will help you to understand if the service you're presenting is business-class and to a high enough standard.
Are you thinking about implementing a VoIP service into your business? Speak to INVAR Technologies today to see how we can save you time, money and an infrastructure headache!