Sage Research recently announced the winners of a contest recognizing organizations that have successfully rolled out voice over IP (VOIP) systems. Here is advice from these top practitioners (which include Outrigger Hotels & Resorts and Prudential Northwest Properties).
1. Do research. Talk with CIOs who have rolled out VOIP about their experiences before you call in vendors.
2. Set clear expectations. Explain to users what the new system will -- and won't -- be able to handle. "Nothing causes a problem like planning a simple install and discovering that the upper management was expecting all the bells and whistles," says one IT manager.
3. Know your network. Gather all documentation for your company's network infrastructure so that whoever designs the new system has all the specifications of the current IP network. Winners cited network stress tests and bandwidth tests as important planning tools -- and noted the importance of upgrading network equipment before rolling out VOIP to guard against failures.
4. Outsource development. Or not. Companies that hired outsiders to design and implement a VOIP system usually lacked the internal expertise to do it themselves. Conversely, organizations that kept design and deployment in-house claimed that it's now easier to support and maintain their systems because their staff knows the current infrastructure better.
5. Train users before the rollout. Give employees time to become familiar with their new phone's functionality before they actually need to rely on it for everyday work.
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