Cash is king is the first and foremost rule in business. Businesses without it flounder and then die. Businesses that borrow too much cash and too often, eventually do the same. Cash impacts paying staff, contractors and general operations and not having enough cash or a positive cash flow hurts the companies ability to operate effectively and damages relationships. Do you have enough green stuff and technical ability to deploy UC?
Before agreeing to do so you also need to define what UC means to your company and internal customers. What components of UC will benefit your company and how will they improve or impact the bottom line? Besides soft productivity benefits can you identify hard dollar savings such as "telecommuters?" Then you need to assess whether or not it makes sense to implement hosted UC services and the question is going to lead you to more questions, such as: Are you willing to give up control? How effective is service and does the hosted service offer a service level agreement?
"Try before you buy or commit" is the accepted practice and you need to allow yourselves ample time to test and evaluate the services you are using. The size of the deployment may mean that you need to perform an assessment first of your existing network and whether or not your network is up to speed and has ample bandwidth. You could also address alternative routing because if you are customer dependent upon UC -- meaning your users are touching customers with the hosted UC tool -- then you need to provide continuity of service not on-again, off-again service because of a network outage or host issue. There are numerous considerations and to keep it simple, start simple. Hosted services are generally flexible enough to pay month-to-month which should give you enough time to determine whether or not you want to pursue the project further.
Pros of hosted UC services
- Small startup cash needed
- No or minimal commitment
- Try before you buy (commit)
- Easy to deploy
- Limited skill-sets required
- Better way to learn than buying then ditching your own solutions
- Easy to fire provider
- Saves or preserves company resources
Cons of hosted UC services
- You give up control
- Bandwidth sensitive
- Internet dependent
- Service by host meeting your needs
- Customization/tailoring may be lacking
This was first published in September 2009