By Gary Jacobs
In today’s environment, selecting the right UCaaS (unified communications-as-a-service) provider can be quite daunting. There are many choices out there. Whether you want a local or regional provider, a traditional telco carrier (LEC or CLEC)or a national and/or global stand-alone UCaaS provider. Whatever your preference, they are all out there ready to service you and your customers.
The big question becomes how do you select the provider that’s right for your business based on all of the offerings to choose from? Following are some things that should be considered when going through your due diligence phase.
Network — Do you plan on taking a BYOB (bring your own bandwidth) approach by utilizing the existing Internet connection, or do you want to tie the UCaaS system into an existing MPLS network? Or, do you want the UCaaS provider to deliver their own circuit along with their hosted platform? Keep in mind, call quality may or may not be impacted based on the selection made here.
Phones/Equipment — Do you have existing IP phones that you would like to use? Do you want the handset cost built into the monthly recurring charge for the service as a rental or lease option? Do you want to purchase the phones upfront? Do want a provider that will not only provide the phones, but also provider the routers and POEs, and manage the entire system end-to-end?
Feature/Functionality — While all of the providers deliver the most common features customers want, how they package/bundle them can be very different. The most common features continue to be presence/IM/chat, mobile and softphone apps, along with customer Web portal for easy administration.
Integration — Do you have existing applications that need to be integrated with the UCaaS platform, (ie., CRM or other applications)? Do you need a system with open APIs?
Interoperability/Hybrid Model — In a multisite scenario, is there a need to integrate a premises-based phone system with a UCaaS system via a SIP connection or some other manner?
Contact Center — Is there a contact center requirement? How many agents and supervisors will there be? Does the customer need application integration, advanced routing features and/or specific reporting capabilities?
Training — What sort of training is needed to roll out the new UCaaS system to the employee population — onsite, Web-based or a combination?
International Coverage — Will the customer need service provided to international locations?
In addition to the above, one should also look at the type of platform the provider utilizes and the architecture/design of that platform to ensure there is adequate survivability and redundancy should there be a catastrophic failure in the platform wherever its housed. All of the providers we recommend are built out throughout several data centers nationally — and some globally — to ensure survivability of the UCaaS service and business continuity for the customer.
Gary Jacobs is the vice president of channel sales in southern California for Bridgepointe Technologies, a master agency headquartered in northern California. He is building the southern California marketplace for Bridgepointe by helping sales agents develop growth strategies that increase their residual revenue streams through the sales of telecom and cloud services. Jacobs has more than 18 years of experience in telecom and has held leadership positions for LCI International and Qwest, and most recently served as a director within TelePacific’s telepartner channel. He is also a member of the 2013-14 Channel Partners Advisory Board.