A growing number of SMBs are acknowledging the benefits of cloud communications and are adopting Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) solutions. Most of them choose cloud communications with the goal of enhancing business communication, collaboration and productivity, and to gain greater flexibility at times of rapid growth or downsizing.
Moving to UCaaS requires you to perform extensive due diligence to ensure that the provider and the technology align with your organization’s business, technology, and security requirements.
While there are many factors to consider, here are four of the most important ones to select the best fit when choosing a UCaaS provider.
Tip 1: Provider Track Record
According to Frost and Sullivan, vendor reputation ranks highest among factors playing the largest role early in the UCaaS provider selection process. “UCaaS adopters—35 percent of current users and 28 percent of future users — identify vendor reputation as the most important selection criterion early in the evaluation process.” Before doing anything else, find out what provider’s existing customers say about the services they receive. Are they happy with their UCaaS solutions? What problems do they have? How easily do they get resolved?
Tip 2: Comprehensive Toolsets
At a baseline, features should include IM, screen sharing, video conferencing and complex call handling. Beyond that, chat, presence, conferencing, collaboration, and support for a range of mobile devices. Mobile native characteristics deliver better performance — mobile messaging, text and chat should be core to the service, not an add-on.
Also consider the provider’s technology roadmap. Speed of innovation can determine a provider’s ability to promptly address your changing needs as size, product portfolio, and user demographics evolve.
Tip 3: Superior Quality
According to a Softchoice study, “78% of workers who use collaboration technology frequently experience technical difficulties.”
Satisfactory end-user experience ultimately determines the value of UCaaS investments. Effective use of advanced communications tools can impact user productivity and job satisfaction, as well as the company’s return on UCaaS investments.
When you’re relying on a third party provider to deliver business-critical functionality, you need the assurance of robust SLAs to ensure that uptime and performance meet your business’ requirements. You should require a provider to offer financially-backed uptime SLAs of at least 99.99 percent, and also seek proof of service performance consistently meeting this threshold.
Tip 4: Fully Integrated Solution
The integration opportunities for UCaaS depend on application programming interface (API) support and/or Communications Platform-as-a-Service (CPaaS) capabilities.
Providers must be able to integrate UCaaS functionality across apps along with telephony, IM, telepresence, screen sharing and more.
Ability to integrate with third-party communications or business software, e.g., Microsoft productivity suite, Google G Suite, email, customer relationship management (CRM), enterprise resource planning (ERP), human resources (HR), represents an increasingly important criterion in UCaaS provider and solution evaluations.
Bonus Tip: Security and Industry Compliance
Investigate both the physical and network security that a prospective UCaaS provider has in place. Ask about the security team staffing and their certifications. Multiple variables may impact UCaaS solution security, including the service provider data center setup, the WAN connection between the customer site and the service provider network, the customer local area network LAN, as well as the users’ endpoints. Redundant power and reliable disaster recovery procedures are a given.
Beyond this there are many other factors to consider when comparing UCaaS providers. For a more in-depth study, please consult, PGi’s UC Buyer’s Guide Interactive Checklist.