SMBs that are starting from scratch with VoIP should consider a network assessment to ensure the infrastructure is capable of supporting the new technology. Examine connectivity to the wide area network (WAN) Internet and public switched telephone network (PSTN) to determine if the infrastructure is sufficient to handle VoIP. Here are some key considerations:
- Wiring: CAT5 or better is preferred
- Switches: Do you have Power over Ethernet (PoE)? Are the switches Layer 3?
- WAN: Does the WAN support voice traffic? Is the WAN managed or unmanaged?
- PSTN: How many lines and what type of lines are at each location?
- Power: VoIP phones require power, as opposed to a digital set that gets power from the cabinet. Power can be supplied by local power, power injectors or PoE switches. What power solution will work best for the business environment?
Lastly, create a small group of employees who are responsible for the deployment of the VoIP initiative. They will be responsible for selecting and interfacing with vendors, working with vendors on an implementation plan and establishing a timeline. In order to gain company-wide acceptance of the initiative, company benefits must be defined and communicated, including any cost savings.
Once you've established a business plan and the infrastructure is ready, you are nearly finished. Since you can never be too prepared, here are some common pitfalls and best practices to incorporate into your approach: