So you think you’re ready to move full steam ahead into virtual sharing bliss with the most recent Unified Communications solution? You’ve studied how the latest UC tools will take your workforce productivity and mobility to the next level. You’ve benchmarked different vendors and the solutions they offer. You’ve even determined your overhead and business travel expenditure savings as a result of better flexwork and remote collaboration. But unless you’ve considered and addressed the following subjects, your Deployment Readiness checklist is incomplete:
1. DEVELOP A UC STRATEGY AROUND YOUR UNIQUE COMPANY NEEDS:
The time between making a conscious business decision to pursue a UC solution and the point when you start reaping quantifiable benefits is sometimes longer and more complicated than expected. Often, company expectations and the reality of implementing UC aren’t well-aligned because strategic preparation has been overlooked. Start by profiling all of employees who will be using UC in your company to determine exactly who needs what, which current communication channels can be replaced and which need to be bolstered.
For example, your Sales team may desperately need web conferencing to communicate with clients, and Instant Messaging to quickly check in with the office, but because they are often on the road with an unreliable internet connection, VoIP telephony may be near useless to them. On the other hand, employees in countries where international calling tolls are high may rely heavily on VoIP as a cost-saving alternative. Knowing and understanding your employee UC profiles will save time and money, and ultimately improve user adoption rates.
2. MAP YOUR ARCHITECTURE LAYOUT:
Regardless of whether you’re going for an on-premise, Cloud or hybrid UC delivery model, due to the nature of UC, architecture is an important consideration with ramifications that can significantly affect your service.
a. Because UC can more or less encompass all of your communication channels (telephony, conferencing, IM, video, etc…), network redundancy is essential. On-premise customers must have necessary servers and IT resources to back up their UC implementation, while an external vendor handles network redundancy and complexity for those who opt for a hosted delivery model.
b. A dispersed architecture is also an important consideration for enterprises deploying UC internationally. To ensure continuity of service, architecture should be as close to users as possible, meaning that a single server site is not sufficient for users on several continents.
3. CALCULATE NETWORK CAPACITY AND NEEDS:
It is imperative to assess your current network capabilities and how different combinations of UC modules will affect bandwidth and quality of service. Video, for instance, requires a significant amount of bandwidth compared to other modules. Depending on telephony needs, you can partially counterbalance this need by offloading some VoIP usage to traditional PSTN telephony. Again, your company usage profile will be crucial to deciding whether or not to upgrade your network.
In part II of our article, we describe three other important elements to consider when readying your organization for UC.