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How do you plan for replacing a business phone system?

A few factors can indicate it's time to replace a business phone system. Learn when it may be time to switch and how to decide on a course of action.

You may need to replace your business phone system for a variety of reasons. If the phone system has either fully depreciated in value or is experiencing hardware failure, it's time to replace it.

There may be negative consequences to replacing your business phone system, such as potential downtime and lost voicemails or customer contacts from the previous system, which could be a limiting factor in how you choose to handle replacing it. If your system has fully depreciated and such consequences arise, see if any trade-in promotions are available.

It's important to know if an upgrade path outside of a wholesale swap exists. Your salesperson may know of end-of-year trade-ins or companies willing to purchase old equipment.

Prepare for failing hardware

Failing hardware may indicate it's time to replace your business phone system. Determine if local or on-staff support can deal with failing hardware. If the resources aren't available locally, it's important to determine how these services will be performed going forward.

If you have the necessary support, the next step is determining which failing parts are most expensive to replace. You should also factor in the services and time required to fix or replace failing hardware to make you have the appropriate budget.

In some cases, the original manufacturer may have spare parts available for purchase. It's a good idea to have multiple sources for parts. An entire industry exists to service and maintain end-of-life equipment. These companies buy used assets, stock up on parts from popular manufacturers and provide maintenance contracts on everything, including generators, phone switches and network switches.

Also, investigate if gateways or other transition equipment are available to stretch your investment or make the turnover easier by enabling you to use the new services through the old system during the transition.

Get familiar with your vendor

Requests for information (RFIs) are a good way to check the availability and capacity a vendor can provide. In addition, it's worth asking what a provider is looking for in a customer to make sure that you are a good fit. For example, if a vendor focuses primarily on companies between 50 and 100 employees, an organization with 1,000 employees wouldn't be a good fit.

Services and hardware are changing, and you shouldn't accept the first option or recommendation without due diligence. This includes understanding cellular handovers, where your PBX transfers to an outside exchange, like a cellphone, to reduce the need to purchase desk phones for all employees. Cellular handovers can decrease additional hardware costs associated with VoIP phones, as organizations won't need to purchase switch ports, maintenance plans or software licensing. Always include a request for cost-saving alternatives in your RFI.

Choosing how to handle end-of-life for phone systems shouldn't be a knee-jerk reaction. A transition needs to be well researched and planned, weighing all options and financial implications.

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