To VoIP or not to VoIP? It’s the question on a lot of business owners’ lips at the moment with the sudden shift to remote working over recent months. For those with onsite PBX systems, this has been particularly challenging and poses the question as to what the best solution is going forward?
We thought we’d put a simple guide together to help you make the best decision for you and your business going forward and explain why we think businesses should move to a cloud-based solution sooner rather than later.
But first, we’re not here saying that a physical PBX might not have been the right solution for you at the time. Sure, PBX’s have been a vital cog in the business machine for years now and with SIP trunking and other technology becoming available, on-site solutions have stood the test of time for a lot of businesses.
However, with the changes in employee expectations around flexible working, the need for business continuity and also the increasing popularity of unified communication tools such as Microsoft Teams, and Slack, we want to challenge whether your existing PBX system will cut the mustard for you going forward.
Let’s start with the jargon, what do these terms mean?
Private Branch Exchange (PBX)
PBX stands for Private Branch Exchange, it’s traditionally a physical system that sits in an office and allows employees to call each other internally and share external lines that connect them to the outside world (the Public switched telephone network (PSTN)).
Traditionally it’s not connected to any data network, which is why SIP trunking is used to allow businesses to use a PBX system to make calls over an internet connection.
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)
VoIP is a completely different system when compared to PBX systems. Calls are routed over the internet using the SIP standard (Session Initiation Protocol) and using a cloud PBX, allowing phone services to be delivered directly to businesses. This is also sometimes referred to as a hosted phone system.
With no physical hardware to maintain (other than handsets if they are used) and the use of management software to manage users, call forwarding and other features, VoIP is fast becoming the first choice for many businesses around the world.
But What Is The Difference?
Ok, so that’s just two different ways of doing the same thing right? What’s the big deal? Well, when you start to stack the two solutions up against each other it becomes quite telling. We’re going to run through a few comparisons to show the benefits of moving to a VoIP-based solution and why it goes beyond just connecting a phone call.
When it comes to out of the box features, VoIP is light years ahead of legacy systems such as PBX systems. With VoIP, it’s common to get features such as voicemail, call forwarding and call holding included into even some of the most basic packages.
You also get to benefit from new and improved features that aren’t possible to get on legacy systems such as virtual receptionists, instant messaging, presence monitoring and call centre management.
With a lot of these features being included as standard, you don’t have to end up paying extra to get basic functionality like you would with a PBX system.
Flexibility is one of the most in-demand traits of any business solution at the moment. Being able to adapt to ever-changing requirements and demands from both employees and clients can be difficult with a legacy system, especially when there’s a reliance on physical hardware.
With a hosted phone system, flexibility comes in all different shapes and sizes, from not needing physical hardware to the ability to make changes to phone settings at the touch of a button and add new features, users and numbers whenever you like. VoIP solutions can be tailored to the needs of your business, quickly and efficiently.
Whether you need to up or downscale your phone system in line with your business, VoIP services allow you to be extremely scalable and make changes in minutes rather than days. Without the need to make changes to physical hardware you don’t have to wait for support to come and add or remove wires, enabling you to make the changes you want when you want and only pay for the resources you need.
With a hosted phone system you don’t have to worry about the demands you’re putting on your hardware, with a lot of systems able to handle even the most demanding of users. No need for new modules, servers or other hardware and no need to worry about the loss of investment when downgrading depreciating assets.
VoIP solutions are designed to work for any size organisation and to grow as slowly or as quickly as the business requires.
Reliability and Continuity
With any phone system, reliability is incredibly important, especially if you have a heavy reliance on a phone line to communicate internally and externally. So what happens when you have no internet, power or have to adjust to working away from the office?
With VoIP, your provider should have back up options available to you such as automatic call routing if lines are down, additional data centres to provide redundancy and support to help you navigate these challenges.
For legacy systems like a PBX, the reliability comes from you making the system work and having a costly contingency in place, such as backup hardware and additional lines amongst other things.
Price can often be the deciding factor when deciding on a new system and when comparing PBX to VoIP it is hard to see any benefit in going or sticking with a legacy system.
PBX systems are notoriously expensive to set up and maintain, there are the initial costs of the hardware itself, the costs to set up the system (which can take a lot of time), buying additional hardware when upgrading and scaling as well as the ongoing maintenance of physical assets that depreciate over time.
With VoIP, you often don’t have anything to buy, install or maintain. Handsets, if required, often come leased as part of a package with a lot of employees even using their mobile devices as softphones if working remotely. Setup fees do apply but are often tiny in comparison to legacy systems, not to mention setup can be done in minutes as opposed to days. Not to mention ongoing management being possible from inside your own business.
VoIP also lends to a per-user pricing model, with features and minutes bundles included as standard which can often be shared between members of your team. This means you only pay for the users that are using the service and there’s usually no nasty surprises at the end of the month when your bill arrives!
Making your decision
So how do you decide what’s best for your business?
Hopefully, we’ve shown that a hosted phone system wins hands down in pretty much every area when you compare it to a PBX, but that still doesn’t mean it’s not a daunting prospect to make the switch.
But that’s where your provider comes into play. Here at Connexin our specialist team of voice experts are on hand to advise you through the process and help you make the best decision for you and your team. Whether you need a bespoke solution, advice on handsets or just what features you should be looking for, we’ve helped thousands of businesses navigate the switch from legacy systems to VoIP telephony.
See for yourself – our team is on hand to chat to you about your requirements and to support you where needed. Feel free to ask us.