3 min read
7 Criteria for Choosing a Cloud Phone System
Phone systems have become a vital part of business communications today, and more businesses are choosing cloud platforms over on-premise systems. Cloud phone systems are highly scalable, making them ideal for most businesses.
The main concern now is how to choose the right cloud phone system for your company. In this article, we will consider seven criteria you can use to help you make the right decision.
1. Standards and Certifications
Ensure you choose providers that comply with recognized standards (such as HIPAA, PCI DSS, GDPR, etc.), and adhere to industry regulations. First, make sure you understand where your responsibilities lie and the provider’s. Then, choose the provider that will help you align with compliance standards once your data and applications are in a public cloud. Also, understand how the provider plans to keep supporting adherence to these standards.
What are your security goals? What security protocols are offered by the cloud phone system provider? What mechanisms are used to protect your apps and data? What specific areas are both parties responsible for? You want to understand these things precisely.
Consider what additional security features and paid services are available and where you may need to augment with third-party integrations. Security is a crucial component in the cloud. It is vital not to hold back in asking questions aligned with your business, industry, regulatory requirements, and any other concerns.
3. Features and Capabilities
Another criterion is the versatility of features. Cloud phone systems provide a consistent user experience on any device from any location. With Unified Communications-as-a-Service (UCaaS) features, you can place and receive calls on multiple devices using your work phone number.
UCaaS combines voice calls, video, email, text, and chat into a single cloud application. This makes it easier for remote teams to collaborate, respond swiftly to customers, and keep projects on track. Make sure the cloud phone system you choose has these UCaaS capabilities.
4. Reliability and Performance
Check the service provider’s performance against their SLAs for the past 6-12 months and see how they dealt with the downtimes. Ensure their monitoring and reporting tools are thorough and can integrate into your management and reporting systems.
Make sure your provider has documented and proven processes in place for dealing with planned and unplanned downtime. This should include how and what they plan to communicate, such as prioritization and severity level assessment of issues.
Understand the cloud provider’s disaster recovery provisions. Be aware of their liability limitations. Consider purchasing additional risk insurance if the provider’s terms and conditions do not cover recovery costs..
Support is another key criterion to consider. When you need help, can you get it and how fast? What channels are available? In some cases, the only support you may get is a chat service or a dedicated resource, and this may not be helpful depending on the gravity of the issue at hand. Before you choose the cloud provider, know the level and form of support that is accessible.
Beyond the displayed cost on your desired plan, it is advisable to inquire about associated or hidden charges. When selecting a plan, ensure you understand the pricing in detail. Be sure of what you are paying for and the features for the specific pricing plan.
When choosing a provider, have a clear contract with no constraints. Though you need to trust your cloud provider to do the right thing, you need a legal agreement to back you up if something goes south.
Contract constraints can cause Vendor lock-in, a situation where a customer using a product or service cannot easily migrate to a competitor. Avoid this by ensuring your provider has minimal use of proprietary technology or minimizing any plan customizations that will limit your ability to migrate.
In addition, ensure you have a clear exit strategy from the beginning. Know the transitioning processes before signing a contract.
Establish workable contracts and think long-term to avoid vendor lock-in. Recognize and validate certifications and standards. Ensure you can get support when needed. Beware of hidden costs.
While these criteria are not all there is to know, they provide you a solid framework to determine which cloud provider to trust with your data. Upon further assessment of your business needs, you may discover more criteria to help you make a well-informed decision.
As a leading expert in digital marketing, integrated campaigns and marketing strategies, Tim has led award-winning marketing communications teams for several communications companies. In addition to serving as the Director of Marketing for ULTATEL, he is also the Kansas City president for the American Marketing Association.