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What makes enterprise unified communications work

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Avoid unnecessary vendor upselling for unified communication solutions

When purchasing your unified communication solutions, avoid unnecessary UC vendor upselling techniques that could cost you unwanted product features.

Chris Partsenidis discussed UC components in part one and UC solution business requirements in part two of this

tip series. In part three, the final portion, he discusses how to avoid unnecessary upselling techniques from UC vendors looking to sell you their unified communication solutions.

Many unified communication components purchased for future use are usually never used, because when the time arrives to implement them, they have already been superseded by other newer and more exciting UC technologies.

Avoid unnecessary upselling techniques

When examining unified communication solutions, it is always a great idea to follow some guidelines to help avoid common upselling techniques that can blow your budget and put you into a very uncomfortable position. It is very important to carefully examine all possible parameters to ensure the proposed solution with your UC vendor will not bring any unpleasant surprises. Here are a few tips that will help you avoid upselling from your UC vendor:

Adjust your unified communication solutions to your budget and not the other way around. When looking through software product features, hardware alternatives and upgrade paths, it doesn't take much to start spending big. For this reason, it is very important to have a set budget for each technology component and never reveal your true budget to your UC vendor. Make sure you let them know you're on a tight budget!

Note current and short-term future UC needs. Part of an IT manager's job is to know where the organization is heading from a technological prospective. Understand what your organization really needs and know where you want to go in the short-term future. It is pointless to introduce unified communication components that might be used some point in the future. Many unified communication components purchased for future use are never used, because when the time arrives to implement them, they have already been superseded by newer and more exciting UC technologies.

Is my network infrastructure ready? Investing thousands of dollars in a unified communication system when the necessary infrastructure does not exist is a no-go situation. Remember, unified communication solutions consist of many technologies, each of which has certain requirements. Be sure to understand each solution's requirements and verify that they can be implemented in your network environment/infrastructure.

Don't forget about ongoing costs. Unified communication solutions are constantly evolving and require support contracts to ensure the investment is protected and constantly maintained up to date. Be sure to calculate the cost of contracts and renewals. Almost all unified communication solutions include a standard one- or three-year support contract. But what happens after that? What would the organization need to pay to maintain this solution up to date? You'd be surprised to see how many organizations purchased a unified communication solution but were forced three years down the track to migrate to a cheaper alternative because of enormous ongoing costs.

Get technical to avoid pitfalls. Unified communication solutions are complex. If you don't ask about the technicalities, it is almost impossible to foresee future problems due to component limitations. IT departments must examine the technical specifications of the proposed solutions to help identify future pitfalls. These are usually very well disguised and not easy to reveal.

Table of contents

Part 1: Identifying unified communication components

Part 2: Unified communications solution business considerations

Part 3: Avoid upselling of your unified communication solutions

For example, unified communication solutions consisting of VoIP PBXs (such as Cisco CallManager) are usually recommended to run on a separate logical network/broadcast domain, with Quality of Service (QoS) support. This requirement can be satisfied with the use of virtual local area networks (VLANs) and specific QoS features. It is therefore imperative to confirm that the current infrastructure can support VLAN networks and QoS, avoiding unpleasant surprises, such as no VLAN support and low-quality voice communications.

Request references for your UC solution. Never choose unified communication solutions without speaking to others who have already implemented them and have dealt with the UC vendor's problems. It's amazing how much of an insight you'll get by making a phone call to another IT manager or engineer and talking about their experience.

The above guidelines have been written to help IT managers and engineers when dealing with the selection of unified communication solutions. If you're thinking of implementing a unified communication solution, it can be a great way to give a lot back to your organization. Just make sure the planning, design and implementation phases are executed correctly and according to your needs given these guidelines.

View these resources on UC ROI for more information.

This was first published in December 2012

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Essential Guide

What makes enterprise unified communications work

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