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Telephone Systems?

My company, in Minneapolis, is moving headquarters and it is a good time to think about replacing our ten year old analog phone system.  We have multiple locations and people (70) around he country.  Any specific ideas or comments?

Answers

Ken Kaufman
Title: CFO
Company: Community Dental Partners
LinkedIn Profile
(CFO, Community Dental Partners) |

Bruce, we are just moving to a VOIP system and have been impressed by it so far. The company is Zultys: http://www.zultys.com/index.php

The functionality for a multi-office installation like yours is phenomenal when compared to your current analog system. We wish we had made the switch years earlier.

Topic Expert
Mark Von Der Linn
Title: Principal
Company: www.VDLconsulting.com
(Principal, www.VDLconsulting.com) |

No question you want VOIP. But seriously consider going with a hosted solution. If you don't have a really seasoned/connected telecom guy on staff, I suggest finding a local telecom consultant to help you with an RFP - even if it's just to advise. In particular, find a guy who has been around long enough to know who the good and bad ones are (of course make sure the guy isn't a rep for anyone). You should compare some of each type - hosted & purchased. I'm happy to answer any follow up questions.

Ed Alexanian
Title: Manager
Company: Linium
(Manager, Linium) |

Bruce we are a small IT company and we use Altigen. I have used Cisco and Shoretel in the past. Cisco in my mind was the best! currently the system really does help save time calling between offices and syncing with your mobile phone.

Natalie Barranco
Title: CFO
Company: All Aboard America! Holdings, Inc.
(CFO, All Aboard America! Holdings, Inc.) |

We have VOIP through a company called Razorline. It is great. The increased functionality is not only useful but simple to learn. I'd be happy to give you s referral. The hardware is Cisco phones. They provide the tech support as well.

Topic Expert
Brenda Goudey
Title: CFO/VP of Finance
Company: KDR Designer Showrooms
(CFO/VP of Finance, KDR Designer Showrooms) |

I work in a similar sized company with multiple offices and I agree with everyone that VoIP is the way to go. In addition to simplifying calls between offices, the flexibility to route incoming calls has been a huge asset. If one office is short-handed (like when our Minneapolis office has a snow storm), we can easily route the calls to a receptionist in another office.

My only warning is that you invest in the best internet service with the best provider you can afford (high quality, maximum bandwidth). If you have multiple offices, you probably already have data flowing between them and if you put voice on top of that it can really slow things down. Slow data is one thing, but slow voice transmission translates to choppy, garbled calls. We had some miserable experiences using internet providers who were sending our calls across the public internet before we finally installed an MPLS network from Windstream between the offices - and now have crystal clear call quality.

Sara Voight
Title: Controller
Company: Critical Signal Technologies, Inc
(Controller, Critical Signal Technologies, Inc) |

I would add a word of caution. If your business deals with the public a lot (they are dialing your 1-800 number regularly) you must have a backup plan for when the VOIP goes down. We had one day where we literally only had one analog phone that we got the phone company to forward calls to. One person answered the phone and took the message, and another staff member used their cell phone to call the client back. Although we weren't able to assist the client from our office, we were able to direct their call to someone with access to our system off-site who could help them. You always need a backup plan. No technology is perfect.

dan rowley
Title: VP, Finance
Company: Sendori
(VP, Finance, Sendori) |

Unless you're a call center business, VOIP should be very suitable and is much more cost effective.

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