VoIP (voice over Internet protocol) is increasingly becoming the preferred phone service delivery system for businesses both large and small. Without going into the technical details, VoIP essentially runs your entire phone system through an internet connection. All the same features as older, phone line-based systems are still available, but with important improvements and enhancements. It won't be long before all offices rely on some sort of VoIP service.
If your small business is preparing to switch offices, incorporate more remote employees, or simply upgrade to a new phone system, it is a great time to learn more about VoIP. There are a number of different service providers, and all of them offer different features at different price points. The first decision you need to make, however, is whether you will go with a hosted VoIP provider or an on-premises setup.
The distinction is a common one in today's IT world. With a hosted VoIP provider, you have the phones at your location, but the actual “brains” of the system are housed and managed by an off-site provider. When you have an on-premises system, everything is housed at your location, and you are largely responsible for the maintenance and management of it. Eric Thomas, CEO of FreedomVoice explains in an interview:
"I think the biggest issue is that when people start thinking phone system, they are thinking about it on a very simple level, you know, make a call and receive a call. . . But the difference really has to do with how much equipment you are buying upfront and who is supporting it."
Both systems have advantages and disadvantages, but for small business that do not have a lot of in-house IT expertise or resources, going with a hosted VoIP system makes a lot more sense. These are the primary reasons that a hosted service benefits companies with 10 employees or less.
Top 4 Reasons Hosted VoIP Should be your Small Business's Phone Solution
1. Service Uptime Guarantees are Built into the Contract
Hosted VoIP providers typically work with multiple customers and have vast service networks. That means that there are backups, redundancies, and contingencies in place so that service is never interrupted. With an on-premises system, a single small problem like a lost Internet connection can completely shut down your phones. Worse still, you may not have the time, money, or expertise to diagnose and fix the problem yourself.
2. Providers Offer Business Continuity Backup Plans
All business rely on their phones, but for the smallest business, phone calls may be the primary or only way to interact with clients, suppliers, and partners. When phone service goes down, these businesses are particularly affected. As we mentioned above, hosted service is very reliable. But if there ever are problems, your hosted VoIP system can automatically route your calls to mobile phones so that your day-to-day business is never interrupted.
3. Professional Maintenance and Oversight are Included
Your small business probably has limited IT resources, and you may simply rely on whichever employee knows the most about computers to troubleshoot and solve problems. With hosted VoIP, the maintenance and upgrades the system requires are handled by an external professional. And when there are problems, someone with VoIP-specific expertise is available to solve them.
4. Lower Total Cost
For small companies, the cost of hosted VoIP is exponentially lower than an on-premises system. A typical setup cost for on-premises hardware could run you $5K-$30K depending on the size of your company and the number of phones you'll need to support. And that doesn't even tack on monthly fees for line service, long distance charges, and maintenance and upgrades. Hosted VoIP, on the other hand, can run as low as $14/mailbox per month, and only includes an initial capital outlay of $100-$300 (each) for new phones.
Plus, a hosted system can easily be grown or supplemented without putting forward a significant capital investment. For small business that need to predict and control their IT budgets, hosted VoIP is the clear solution.
VoIP is a classic business tool integrated with a new technology. That is why it is so beneficial to partner with IT experts that can help you select, install, and manage your VoIP system. To learn more about effective IT planning for your growing business, download our free white paper “The Small Business Guide to IT Outsourcing.”