It’s the future and affects our daily lives, but often that’s as deep as the explanation goes. What is the real benefit of the cloud? Why do companies choose to invest in cloud-based unified communications-a-a-service (UCaaS) platforms? Let's take a deeper look at one such unified technology called Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), taking the cloud by storm.
What is a VoIP phone system?
A VoIP phone system facilitates calls via the cloud instead of the traditional Private Branch Exchange (PBX), a private telephone network that historically connected many business landlines.
It’s a part of unified communications and collaboration (UCC) that connects business communications to the cloud. It centralizes calls, meetings, and messages on a unified platform and allows businesses to communicate with their teams, customers, suppliers, and more through one application on any internet-connected device.
With a VoIP phone system, users can easily switch between voice calls, video conferences, or instant messaging without relying on a traditional landline or cellular services.
Hacked-together solutions and reliance on personal devices are neither sustainable nor secure. A VoIP infrastructure offers businesses the agility and flexibility to support a remote framework. It enables employees to take calls from anywhere. This cloud-based system keeps them connected and productive no matter how or where teams get their work done.
What do you need to set up a VoIP phone system?
There are two essential requirements for setting up a VoIP telephone system. First, you need a secure and robust internet connection. This is your system’s strength. Second, you need a willingness to adapt to the future of work. The future of work is now, and it's more flexible than ever.
Your system should be scalable, provide easy access to features, ensure business continuity and security, all at an affordable price. This commitment to flexible IT sets your business apart.
How to set up a VoIP phone system in 10 steps
Setting up a VoIP system is easy when done correctly. Let's look at ten simple steps to configure a VoIP phone system effectively.
1. Assess your team’s needs
Start by considering your existing phone system. Do you have obsolete landlines or employees working on personal devices away from their desks? Overall, you should be asking what the system is doing right and better.
Make sure you understand the full scope of what you need. Are you just looking for a phone system, or an all-in-one unified communications tool with video conferencing, chat contact centers, and more?
Understand how important mobility is to your company. Do you have a flexible, hybrid, or mobile workforce that could benefit from a flexible solution? By documenting your current solution's good, bad, and ugly aspects, you can set yourself up for success.
2. Research VoIP types
Now that you’ve identified the problem you’re trying to solve, it's time to do your research. Understand how VoIP works and the different systems available.
On-premises: A once default option for businesses, often known as legacy systems, where a company purchases the hardware, including servers and switches, and hosts the service on-site. The owner is responsible for maintenance, updates, and security.
VoIP: VoIP is the technology that transmits calls over data networks instead of traditional phone lines. VoIP can be on-premises or cloud-based.
Hybrid: Companies can choose to invest in an on-premises system or combine it with a cloud-based solution.
Hosted VoIP: A cloud-based solution, allowing businesses to forego on-premises equipment. A hosted VoIP provider hosts, maintains, and updates software and hardware offsite and delivers voice connectivity remotely.
3. Work out a VoIP budget
When comparing VoIP systems, it's essential to keep different costs in mind, not just upfront costs. A system’s future flexibility, scalability, and business continuity also affect your overall VoIP spend.
An on-premises system requires upfront investments, including equipment and maintenance, while hosted VoIP has low or no upfront costs, only a predictable monthly subscription fee. Hosted VoIP makes it easy to add more locations and users as you scale your operations.
On-premises systems may require more hardware. On the other hand, hosted VoIP offers more flexibility to users, is accessible from anywhere, and outsources security and maintenance. A monthly subscription is hassle-free for your budget.
4. Get the right provider
When looking for a suitable VoIP provider, ask the right questions, get a demo, and discuss the implementation.
Inspect. Keep a checklist of questions to ask each potential vendor so you can equally evaluate options. Start with the basics: pricing, features, security, and quality of service. Read online product reviews and hear from the customers. Assess what the ratings, customer loyalty, customer support, and success programs look like. Finally, dive into the details of data center redundancy, mobile apps, scalability, reliability, and analytics. Going through this list gives you a better understanding of your options.
Get a demo. A demo shows you how the system works and integrates into your current tech stack.
Discuss implementation. Revisit your list for follow-up questions. What is the test phase? How long does the deployment take? Who supports project management, training, and number porting?
5. Buy the necessary hardware and software
You only need basic details to get started, such as first name, last name, and email, and the next available extension automatically populates. You can enable entitlements, desk phones, or softphones within a desktop or mobile app admin portal.
With a hosted VoIP system, you work on the cloud, so you only need your provider's software with no on-premises equipment. A VoIP-compatible desk phone is optional, and you can purchase it through your provider or set up an existing phone to work with the new software. Users can download the app for Mac/iOS or Windows/Android desktop or mobile softphone.
6. Port your numbers
Now let's make it all work. A new VoIP system doesn't necessarily mean a new business phone number. You can simply transfer an existing number to your new provider and avoid any switch chaos. Marketing materials and advertising can stay the same, and you can retain customers with an added digital transformation.
Number porting has a few dos and don'ts in terms of downtime. You can request a transfer in your provider's admin portal, but make sure your information matches exactly and remember that transfers can take up to 15 business days.
In the meantime, don't cancel your previous service until the porting is complete. To get your system up and running on day one, you can use your VoIP system to request a temporary phone number and simply route calls through your primary business number.
7. Configure your VoIP system
Where does the call go when a customer calls your primary phone number? Think critically about the customer journey on the phone and how you can make provide a better customer experience. You can set up direct lines or extensions within your admin interface and set up a dial plan to map your call flow.
The auto-attendant helps determine where a call is going (e.g., press 2 for blank). Next, you can add a schedule to prepare different language settings for open and closed hours or special messages during the holidays. You now have additional tools at your fingertips when calling volume increases, such as ring groups (allowing multiple agents to answer a call) or a call queue (to designate the next person on the line).
8. Test your network and the newly installed system
When you're ready to get started, check your network’s strength. You can do this from your provider's customer support app. Before going live, make sure that you route all numbers correctly. Don’t forget to test!
9. Train your team for everyday use
So far, we’ve discussed all the technical steps for VoIP success. But you also need employees who understand the new system. Luckily, VoIP is user-friendly and designed to make your life easier, not harder. All top vendors have a “get started” user guide and a customer support hub with easily accessible resource articles and tools.
You can easily log in to your account to set your preferences, choose email notifications, change the ringtone, and set up voicemail for direct extensions. Set the app as the default for outgoing calls if you're using the desktop or mobile app.
Before going live, train your team to test everything, including voicemail, calling, and text messaging. This makes them comfortable with the new systems and processes and sets them up for success.
10. Regularly monitor and maintain your VoIP system
Don't panic while monitoring or maintaining your VoIP phone. Your provider covers you well, so you don't need to worry about regular maintenance. Hosted VoIP provider monitors, supports, and updates your system. It's important to look for consistent customer communication about new updates or features and pass them to your team.
Flexibility: The recent turn of events catapulted us into a world requiring flexible tools to stay connected, productive, and work from anywhere. Since flexible work isn't going away, hosted VoIP means your employees can answer from anywhere with a desktop or mobile app. With a cloud-hosted VoIP phone, you don't have to be on-site with bulky, old-fashioned devices.
Cost-effectiveness: VoIP is a smart financial choice without expensive hardware and maintenance, especially SMBs.
Scalability: Hosted VoIP offers the flexibility to add extensions with the push of a button. You can scale up or down based on business needs.
Reliability: Hosted VoIP involves less risk when offloading equipment. As we've seen firsthand, VoIP systems are agile and resilient to outages, natural disasters, and even global events.
Challenges with a VoIP phone system
No technological improvement is immune to challenges. The most common VoIP challenges are call quality, dropped audio, or dropped calls. Look for a provider with excellent uptime and round-the-clock customer service. Additionally, invest in a strong internet connection – the backbone of your phone system.
Calling all businesses
Employees demand flexible working and companies have to adapt to their needs. A VoIP phone system provides the necessary tools and features to respond to this changing business landscape with a robust VoIP solution that's as flexible as your workforce to enhance growth and performance.
The increasing use of VoIP solutions also requires improved security of apps used in the workplace, especially mobile apps. Learn more about mobile app management and how it enhances the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) concept.
VoIP on the call!
Get a variety of calling features and quickly transmit calls via VoIP providers.
Meghan Brisson is a Senior Content Marketing Manager at
GoTo. Meghan specializes in B2B SaaS content strategy and creation. She is also skilled in developing creative solutions to expand brand reach, transforming internal processes, and building effective teams.
VoIP on the call!
Get a variety of calling features and quickly transmit calls via VoIP providers.