I Have to Replace My Telephone System; What Do I Do Now?
Well, your PBX is in its second decade of life, the software release is eight years old, the vendor declared End of Life five years ago, the users are screaming to get features they’ve had on their iPhone for years and the manufacturer has just been acquired by a competitor! This scenario has been playing out as the industry continues to consolidate. This includes manufacturers and channel partners alike. We’ve also seen one major vendor enter Bankruptcy proceedings (Avaya) and another exit the business (Toshiba)
So what’s an enterprise caught up in this situation to do? As it is clearly stated on the cover of the ‘Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy’ – ‘DON’T PANIC’. The first thing to do is assess the situation for operations and support:
- Will my sales and support contacts remain the same?
- Will my vendor honor their contractual obligations?
- Will my ‘Best Effort’ support diminish (this approach is often used for EOL products)
In the vast majority of cases, the acquiring vendor will make sure the existing operational support remains in place. Once you are satisfied that this is the case, you can move to the next phase of looking to the future:
- What is the roadmap and upgrade path for my existing platform?
- How does this impact existing and planned integrations?
- How do I add new functionality?
Often times, vendor acquisitions result in the demise of some product lines. If you determine that your existing system falls into this category, it’s time to start the replacement/upgrade process. This same process is also applicable for older systems where the vendor has not gone through an acquisition or dramatic financial upheaval.
Hopefully you are in luck, your budget has finally been approved and its time for a new system. Here’s my suggestions for key elements that you may want to include in your search:
- Do I need to completely replace my system?
- Does a hybrid approach make sense where I keep the existing premise system and add cloud functionality such as UC, CC or Team Collaboration?
- Does IT understand the functional requirements of the business?
- Understanding the impact on existing integrations (i.e. CRM)
- How will security be impacted
- What reliability can I expect (for SMB’s, this can improve significantly)
- What management tools do I need for analytics, performance and troubleshooting
- What network options (i.e. OTT, SD-WAN) should be considered
Whether you decide on a formal RFP procurement or a less formal approach, it is essential that you have a defined set of criteria that can be used to compare the different solutions available to your enterprise. Although just in the early planning stage, I’ll be developing a new workshop for Enterprise Connect 2017 that considers these topics.