Unified Communications & Collaboration (UCC) deployments are increasing with organisations now becoming conscious of the advantages it can bring their business. UCC can help businesses boost productivity, increase revenues, reduce costs and enhance customer relationships together with other tangible benefits such as increased responsiveness and accelerated collaboration. UCC aggregates the communication services that people use into a single interface, including instant messaging, voice, presence, video conferencing, desktop sharing, apps and so on.
In the modern business environment, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all voice & UC solution. The tangible benefits of UCC will differ from organisation to organisation, depending and based on individual communication and collaboration needs within the company. Hence why deploying UCC successfully requires a plan aligned with the company strategy. Below are our top 4 tips for a successful UCC deployment:
Users come first
Almost every business, and every vertical within it, has communication bottlenecks and inefficiencies which slow the workflow. As already mentioned, each organisation has different communication needs and the easiest way to identify them is to look at the end users. If you trace back these inefficiencies and the communication activities of your employees, you can easily pinpoint which tools they are using including devices, individual applications for different tasks and which tools will be most useful to adopt.
Also, it is extremely important to take into account individual usage profiles - each department or group within your company such as customer service, sales reps, marketing and so on are involved in different work processes and therefore have different communication needs. For example, marketing, design and other departments with similar functions are likely to benefit from a collaboration platform where they can communicate quickly and efficiently to make decisions, using instant messaging whilst sharing their screens to present to a customer or colleague.
On the other hand, sales reps are constantly on the move and need to be able to join a conference call from any place with a click of a button from their mobile device, as opposed to using lengthy dial in numbers to join a bridge. A way to ensure that sales reps will never miss a call from a customer or prospect is a term used in the industry ‘find me, follow me’ which involves integration of your mobile and voice environment.
It is crucial to plan out the different communication needs of the various departments within your organisation and having a user-focused strategy prior to any deployment.
Choose your deployment method carefully
An on-site solution is no longer the only option for organisations when they come to review their UC strategy. It is time to consider the right deployment method for your business in terms of your resource, DR, growth plans, budgets etc.
The question to ask yourself is: Is on-premise, hosted or a hybrid platform best for you? Each of these solutions has its own benefits as well as its potential drawbacks according to what is important to you (upfront costs and costs of maintenance, DR strategy, resources to run the system internally, current bandwidth etc.), and in each case you will have to ensure that not only the provider is the right one to accompany you and fulfil your needs in the long term, but also that the product/technology they are putting forward is exactly matching your needs and is in accordance with your company strategy.
At Solar we work with ShoreTel, which is an award winning industry leading provider of telephony and UC solutions. Their phone system is based on an open architecture which enables the integration with other leading solutions including Salesforce, Skype for Business and NetSuite among many others. The platform has various other features including CRM integrations, call recording, prioritisation of queues together with other smart telephony functions.
Try before you make the final decision
We speak to too many IT managers who feel the pressure of making their decision the final one and therefore delay the decision-making process by fear of choosing the wrong solution and wrong provider. It is likely that you will keep this new solution for the next 10 years and making a decision for such a long-term commitment can become difficult especially if you have multiple sites and a large number of users.
When it comes to telephony and UCC, most IT managers tend not to consider doing a POC, fearing it a waste of their time. Paradoxically, the IT managers we speak to who are trialling different solutions on different sites - or with different groups of users - appear to be the most serene. Why? Because they get the opportunity to trial the solutions, test the service and relationship with the provider, but also gain valuable feedback from the users. It might seem laborious to install a new system for the sake of a POC, but consider how much time (and money) you will have saved yourself in the long run by keeping the best provider and solution - by simply trialling, comparing and potentially getting rid of an incompetent provider, inadequate solution, or both!
Train the users
Another crucial but often neglected aspect of a successful Unified Communications and Collaboration deployment is getting the employees excited and familiar with the new technology. In order to take full advantage and explore all the benefits of UCC, all users need to understand how to use it, which requires training or a familiarisation session.
Even if your employees already have experience using some UCC applications such as IM and video conferencing, training is helpful to ensure that all users are confident with the solutions, make the most of it and help with a faster adoption rate, and therefore faster ROI.
Alternatively, if there are too many changes and unfamiliar applications and processes, or your employees are just not very tech-savvy, a phased deployment can be implemented. Let the users adopt and experience each UC component for a time before moving on to the next one.
We hope this article has been of interest. If you need additional information about successful deployment of Unified Communications and Collaboration solutions, please contact us and we will be happy to help you.