If you’ve got pitfalls, you probably didn’t pick the right VoIP partner
Ever wonder why sidewalks are poured in segments? What’s up with those funky pieces of wood, anyway? All they seem to do is create places for weeds to grow. Hangouts for dandelions are an unintended consequence. The true objective is far more important. Expansion and contraction.
Your business is like a sidewalk. You’ve got to plan for times when you’ll need more resources; and you also need to be prepared to respond when it’s time to pull back. Thanks to the pervasiveness of startup parlance in everyday conversation, we all know this as “scalability.” The things you need to run smoothly must be responsive to the inevitable ups and downs of business cycles.
Here are some common “wish I’d thought of that” scalability elements that should be a part of any VoIP platform you consider.
1. The whole shebang
One thing you shouldn’t ever have to worry about with any VoIP platform is the “not enough” conundrum. Your vendor shouldn’t try to push you to invest in more equipment than you currently need. If you need to scale up for seasonal reasons or a spike in business, the upgrade is often a software update and more bandwidth. Likewise, scaling down simply means software adjustments and a downgrade in the monthly bandwidth program you purchase.
Not everything, though, is this easy.
You’re walking through the call center and hearing lots of apologies being issued. “Sorry, could you repeat that,” echoes through the area. The VoIP system is experiencing what’s commonly called “choppiness.”
This is often caused because of loss of packet data caused by high latency. Latency is easy to wrap your head around if you think of it this way: It’s the amount of time it takes for a packet of information – in this case digitized voice – to leave the source and get to you. Or vice versa. If those packets are traveling at various speeds, they won’t arrive sequentially. The call is reassembled with parts missing. You and the caller end up hearing only what gets there in the order it was sent.
It makes sense this should only happen if your current VoIP infrastructure is being overtaxed. Be sure that your vendor has given you the ability to prioritize the system’s router and firewall to prioritize voice data. Ask your platform vendor what is necessary to isolate video and other high bandwidth data needs so they’re not fighting with your call center’s VoIP data needs. Can they do this for you?
Your platform vendor will likely take care of this by upgrading the router. It can also be handled through software that uses multi-protocol label switching to balance data and bandwidth.
3. Time to delegate
VoIP systems are supposed to save you money, and they definitely do. Often, the first noticeable savings rely on your ability to use existing phones. Often, too, it’s possible to start off using your existing network. But, what this means is that you’re using the same infrastructure for voice, as well as computer-related activities.
At first, everybody plays nice. Then, call quality could start to suffer. That’s because digital voice requires bandwidth.
If you plan to grow, be sure that your platform vendor inspects your current internal network and is prepared to reconfigure or add to it so that voice traffic always gets priority. Be prepared to upgrade to a business-class router to maintain call quality. The next step is to add a dedicated separate network connection just for VoIP.
4. Your ISP is just not that into you
Of course your current Internet Service Provider is going to say, “of course.” Yes, they’re “more than capable of handling all your bandwidth needs.” They have “state of the art hardware and excess capacity,” with additional benefit statements located here on this shiny brochure.
You, however, are not their only customer.
Many ISPs are already or about to be crushed by the growing demand for bandwidth needed by customers. And like you, they’re always looking for more customers. Most ISPs didn’t start off with the ability to handle the heavy burden of voice data. Some may be struggling to keep up. They’re not going to tell you that.
Task your VoIP vendor with being upfront in their evaluation of your current ISP. Will it be up to the task of giving you the reliable and consistent bandwidth you’ll need for VoIP telephony? The top-rated VoIP platform providers solve this dilemma by taking on the responsibility of becoming your ISP.
This solution is often preferable. The majority of your VoIP platform is going to be cloud-based. A connection your vendor controls from your phones to their system residing in the cloud means fewer elements outside their control. They’ll be able to scale resources up – or down – as you need them. And in many cases, they’ll have constant monitoring systems in place so this is done without involvement on your part.
5. Planning for what you don’t yet know
It’s easy to ask a VoIP vendor to give you a proposal based on your current needs. It’s even relatively easy to ask them to help you project what you might need based on a handful of growth scenarios. What’s not so easy is to ask a VoIP vendor to look into their cloud-based crystal ball and tell you what future needs the breakneck speed of technological innovation are going to lay at your business door.
How, for example, will the Internet of Things IoT impact your VoIP scalability? If you’re not yet impressed with the impact of intelligent refrigerators and thermostats on your business, consider something that’s right on the edge of exploding on your horizon. Unified Communications (UC) is what you might call “the one ring to rule them all.” Industry experts predict that there’s going to be an accelerating convergence of VoIP and UC, as collaborative apps and services push messaging and chat to usage levels that eclipse email.
How do you plan for stuff like that? You can’t, exactly. But you should choose a VoIP vendor who is looking out for your future, and one that had already laid the groundwork to integrate these expansions into your current solution.
You can’t predict the future, but you can prepare for it. The top benefit of VoIP platforms is that they are highly scalable. Solutions are quick and responsive to fluctuating needs. Businesses that switch to VoIP platforms often discover that the flexibility helps them cast off rigid attitudes in other areas.
So, if you look back at these 5 scalability pitfalls and conclude that they’re not really even pitfalls, we’ve been successful with our objective. Pick the right VoIP platform vendor and there won’t be any future scalability struggles. Check out our list of services and features us to find out why we are the right vendor.