Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS)
Have you, or your team, ever been in a tricky situation that forces you to communicate ineffectively?
Maybe you’ve had to tell an important client that you’d call them back because you couldn’t get the answers that you needed right away or because you had another call coming in.
Maybe you accidentally sent a client directly to voicemail because you didn’t realize your co-worker wasn’t at their desk.
Maybe you don’t have direct access to the files you need to make an important split-second decision while on a call with a client.
Maybe you’ve got a distributed or remote workforce that is having a hard time staying on the same page as the rest of the company.
The truth is that ineffective communication can be the tipping point between success and failure.
A whopping 86% of employees and executives cite a lack of collaboration or ineffective communication for workplace failures. (Source: Salesforce)
Corporate communications and team collaboration doesnt have to be a guessing game with dozens of separate spinning discs that never seem to intersect.
Integrated unified communications (UCaaS) is the ultimate solution to solve this and many other common issues facing businesses like yours.
But, understanding the unique nuances of unified communication and pinpointing which features make sense for your long-term goals can be a little more complex than you initially expected.
Luckily, we’re here to guide you through the basics of UCaaS for business.
Here is your essential guide to getting started with unified communications for your business:
As the perfect primer for understanding UCaaS, you can learn everything you need to know about getting started with and leveraging UCaaS to your company’s advantage:
- What is Unified Communications?
- How can it help your business?
- What are the most important features to be aware of?
- Are there any drawbacks?
- How do you know if and what features you need?
- How should you develop a strategy moving forward?
- How can you select the right provider for you?
What is unified communications?
Simply put, cloud-enabled Unified Communications, or UCaaS, is a customized suite of various integrated business telecom and team collaboration tools.
Specifically designed to simplify your day-to-day communications, UCaaS aggregates multiple tools into a centralized dashboard and provides rich analytics to ensure that you know what’s working and what isn’t.
How can it help your business?
Businesses are leveraging tons of different productivity and communication tools marketed as the ultimate time savers and productivity boosters. Unfortunately, managing a dozen different tools at once can make things even more complicated for your team.
Rather than juggling a bunch of communication or collaboration tools, moving toward an integrated, cloud-enabled unified communications solution is a business decision that will pay dividends in the form of increased efficiency and productivity, among other things:
- Improve Productivity
- Reduce Operating Costs
- Simplify Complex Functions
- Maximize Inter-Office Collaboration
- Easily Measure Performance
- Increase Accessibility & Flexibility
- Connect a Distributed Workforce
What are the most important features to be aware of?
Since an enterprise unified communications system is essentially a conglomerate of multiple different tools in a single place, there are a wide variety of potential features that your new system could offer.
Traditional and Digital Telephone Systems
- Direct Call Routing & Forwarding
- Simple Integration
- Dynamic Lines
- Softphone Capability
Web and Mobile Video Conferencing
- Web & App-Based Video Conferencing
- Multi-Device Capability
- HD Quality Video & Sound
- Simple Recording & Playback
Team Collaboration Tools
- Cloud File Sharing
- Desktop Sharing
- User Presence Management
- Instant Messaging & Chat
- Embedded Analytics
But, the most important feature to be aware of is that your UCaaS suite is entirely customizable, meaning that you only pay for the tools that you actually need.
Plus, because it’s modular and infinitely scalable, adopting UCaaS means that you can add or remove features as you need them.
Are there any drawbacks or risks to adopting UCaaS?
Realistically, there are a handful of potential disadvantages to unified communications, but they tend to center around team adoption and integration:
Employee or team resistance to change and training.
Security concerns over a technology living in the cloud.
Limited knowledge or access to advanced support.
Fortunately, most of these issues are solved by choosing the right provider to help guide you through the process and train your team after installation.
How can you assess your existing communications structure?
Knowing whether unified communications is a good fit for your needs and goals starts with an in-depth assessment of your current communications structure and processes.
While a complete audit may seem like a daunting task, a lean assessment will answer all of the key questions to inform your decision.
To assess your corporate communications, start with:
Outline your organizational structure – Operations, Marketing, Sales, etc.
Measure activity, usage, and general tools for each department.
Identify the tools necessary to succeed across each department & pinpoint overlap.
Outline realistic KPIs and goals for your communications.
Choose 1-3 areas to focus on with unified communications.
Make it a point to involve your entire leadership team and any relevant key players or stakeholders throughout each stage of the audit.
How do you strategize the best features that make sense for your needs?
Now that you have a solid idea of what to focus on developing a comprehensive UCaaS strategy is the next step.
As with many other business-critical elements, it’s important to develop a unified communications strategy to drive your efforts and decisions throughout the process.
While many companies have a strategy in place for dealing with external or incoming communication, would you believe that 60% of companies don’t have a long-term strategy for their internal communications? (Source: Workforce)
No matter what industry you’re in or the audience you serve, having a strong communication strategy for both internal and external channels is critical to maintaining efficacy and cadence.
Not only does a unified communications strategy offer a detailed structure to guide you throughout the entire process of selecting and implementing a solution, but it also helps you:
Develop realistic goals for your organization.
Research relevant resources and tools.
Outline important KPIs and reporting needs.
Lay out internal protocols and guidelines.
How do you choose the right unified communications provider (and tools) for your needs?
There are so many different technologies and tools out there on the market to enhance communication, so wading through the wide range of unified communications providers and the relevant tools available to you can be a bit of a challenge.
The best first step to selecting the right unified communications provider for your needs is to approach the vetting process like your hiring process. Your future UCaaS provider will serve an integral role on your team, so the same care should be given to vetting a provider as it would to hiring an employee.
Some key questions to ask when vetting a potential provider:
Exactly how does your offering differ from [insert competitor name]?
Considering my needs & existing process, what competitive edge can your UCaaS package offer?
Can this new system be easily integrated into our existing tech stack?
What kind of staff training or support is available once implemented?
Is there a 24/7 help desk?
What happens if we decide that it isn’t a good fit in a month?
What if I just can’t get my team to use it?
Pro Tip: Your prospective provider should care as much about your communication needs as you do. If they don’t, move on.
Getting Started with UCaaS Doesn’t Have to Be a Chore!
Whether you know a little or a lot about unified communications and regardless of where you are in your search for the perfect provider, getting started doesn’t have to be a long, drawn-out process.
If you follow the guidelines mentioned above to educate yourself on the potential benefits and pitfalls of transitioning to a new communications tech stack, you’ll be in a great position to make an informed decision for your business.
Plus, with your new UCaaS solution in place, you’ll be able to bring your satellite offices and remote workers into the fold and improve productivity across the board!
If you’re ready to jump headlong into UCaaS, get in touch with us today for a free consultation to assess your goals and needs.