Until you narrow down your requirements and prioritise them, pricing up a new business phone system is like asking “how much does a car cost?” The single most important factor is the number of users, which may also dictate the type of system you need. Options vary widely from a top end dedicated in-house PBX system for a SME, requiring multiple BT lines and which could well require support by your IT department, right through to virtual systems that are hosted in the cloud, where all you have to purchase are the handsets and a fast Internet line.
What size of start-up company?
Seeing as we are addressing start-us specifically in this article, let’s assume the number of users is no more than 20 initially. Of course, scalability is critical. You don’t want to have to rip out the system and replace it when your business plan works like a dream and suddenly you have demand for 50 users. Plus, you don’t want to be tied down to a long term contract in these early stages. So there – we have already identified the first three priorities:
· Number of users max 20
· Easy scalability to 50 and beyond
· No long term contract commitment
What functionalities are must-haves?
This is where you need to really think about what is important, and what amounts to no more than shiny bells and whistles. One example is video conferencing that was widely popular when it first became available back in the late ‘90s but has fallen out of favour to a large degree since then, especially with the advent of services such as Skype that offer it free of charge and which will be accessible over any decent Internet connection in any case.
The most popular (and almost mandatory) functions that new business start-ups choose
The Top 10 are usually:
2. Call divert if busy or no reply
3. Place caller on hold
4. Music on hold
5. Call forwarding & transfer
6. Call waiting indicator
7. Hunt group
8. Call recording
9. Conference bridge
10. Do not disturb
Yet to choose an office? Internet connectivity is critical
It’s natural for new start-ups to have sourcing office space at the top of their to-do list. If you have not already booked a space, be sure to put high speed Internet connectivity as a priority criterion. Shared offices and older spaces may offer only ADSL 2+ connections and not FTTC. That would be a significant limiting factor straight away.
So – what is the cost?
Approximate median price per extension including handset