What does IT need to look at during planning for a Unified Communication project to ensure it goes smoothly?


I've just been informed that my company is planning to invest in unified communications, and wants input from IT. I'm familiar with the concepts of UC, but have never been involved in a UC project. What are the things that we need to look at from an IT perspective to ensure that UC planning and implementation goes smoothly?

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Here's an article that lists 9 things that you might find helpful as you go about planning a project. Action Planning for Unified Communications




"As you can see, the planning process starts with learning about the market (which you're doing here, for example) and with a review of your organization's strategy to determine which areas deserve the most attention. The next three steps are an examination of the value chain activites in these important areas. You can read more about how to do that in the article Top UC Apps Are Now Apparent. Essentially, you are looking for those processes with significant communications elements in them and trying to find where those communications are not working well today (the "hot spots") or could be dramatically improved with new Unified Communications tools. 

Once you have found the problems, step 6 uses a combination of flowcharting, brainstorming, business process analysis, and case study or vendor reference information to suggest improvements to the business process using UC technologies. Step 7 then uses a scoring technique to prioritize those UC apps that have the highest potential payoff with a low or appropriate level of risk."

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I feel bad that I didn't bring those colorful visual aids like jimlynch (but at least I brought another cute kitty avatar to the party!).  One of the most important things you need to do to effectively plan for UC is LAN bandwidth analysis.  You have to take into consideration the bandwidth required to push video/audio through your network, and be able to meet those needs.  Otherwise, you are probably going to face Max Headroom sounding audio and catchy video with dropped frames.  At worst you might have dropped calls, something you obviously want to avoid.  And be sure to think about the fact that usage patterns will change with deployment, so you want to forcast future usage as accurately as possible, with challenge added by a lot of your projections are based on incomplete and speculative information. 


In addition to paying attention to network analysis at the planning stage, it is important to continue a program of monitoring and measuring bandwidth usage after your UC roll out.  Usage will not stay static, and you will need to keep on top of changing use and the resulting data loads.  

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