What to look for in a UCaaS provider
As the workplace continues to evolve we see new technologies and services entering the business environment, writes Dave Ricketts, the head of marketing at Six Degrees. The office of the future is being shaped by factors such as flexible working hours, shared information, cloud technology and working from pretty much anywhere. So how can organisations that depend on voice, messaging, presence and collaboration, better utilise tech and services to support employee productivity, irrespective of location and what device they use?
Using cloud unified communications (UC) systems, or UC as a Service (UCaaS) is an extremely efficient way to meet this need. It’s attractive because it’s light on capital expenditure, and has the flexibility and scalability to add or remove users as required. In addition, opting for a hosted UC means less admin on your side, a guaranteed service-level agreement (SLA), and a level of expertise offered that can be hard to achieve internally, particularly for smaller businesses.
But, with so many options available, and faced with issues to consider such as cloud integration, security and support, it’s hard to know where to start when it comes to evaluating UC providers and deciding which products and services are worth the investment.
Choosing a UCaaS provider that’s right for you
Start with what you know best – your business. Establish targets and expectations that are practical and achievable in the short, medium and longer term. It may sound obvious, but planning against targets will help you to accurately and consistently measure the impact of the strategy, and help you to look for third-party solutions that align with your company’s needs and budget.
Key considerations when comparing UC cloud-based providers should include:
- A list of UC applications offered. What are your UCaaS functionality requirements? Does the provider meet or exceed these with their service offerings?
- The cost to subscribe. Cost will always be a primary motivator in any outsourcing decision-making. Does the provider only offer the necessary functionality at a premium cost? If so, where do you choose to compromise?
- SLA terms. When you’re relying on a third party provider to deliver business-critical functionality, you need the assurance of robust SLAs to ensure that uptime and performance meet your business’ requirements.
- Network access requirements. How much access to your network does the provider need in order to implement and support their UCaaS solution? How does this impact on your business’ security posture?
- Track record and evidence of happy customers. What do the provider’s existing customers say about the services they receive? Are they happy with their UCaaS solutions, and from a broader perspective, working and communicating on a regular basis with the provider themselves?
Making the most of your UC service
A good UCaaS provider will provide a tailored solution that assimilates with your preferred software and applications, and offer the relevant help to match. Every technology needs support, so whether you need to troubleshoot or are looking for help to use a tool or system correctly, it’s important that your service provider’s response time and support is prompt and efficient, and is ideally provided in-house, not via a call centre.
The service aspect of ‘aaS’ means that your business always has the latest technology. Your UCaaS provider should automatically deploy updates so that you can leverage the most updated features and developments. These should be automatically factored in to your regular bill, so there are no unexpected costs.
Using a UCaaS provider will automatically facilitate increased communication between departments in your business. For example, a communications system that makes it easy for an office-based operations person to communicate with a sales representative working in the field about a potential contract or deal failure, could make all the difference between losing the deal and keeping it. UCaaS providers enable mobile phones to be integrated into your office-based phone system. Calls can be transferred to mobile phones using only an extension, with mobile phones being able to dial out as if on a landline number.
In implementing and upgrading applications and making them instantly available to everyone in the business, your UCaaS provider ultimately speeds up innovation and time to market. At the same time complexity and costs are reduced, paving the way for a modern workplace that is more collaborative than ever.