5 key lessons learnt from moving to a hosted voice solution (Guest Post) » Charity Digital News

5 key lessons learnt from moving to a hosted voice solution (Guest Post)

A recent survey by Tech Trust to look at the adoption of cloud technology amongst charities found that 58% of charities still don’t use cloud technology and fail to see the value in moving to cloud based technologies.

In this guest post, Louise Duffy of NCVO talks to Martin Newlan, Bursar at Cumberland Lodge, to gain his insight into implementing a cloud based voice system in a unique location – a listed building based in Windsor Great Park.

Consider all options

A lot of charities dismiss the idea of hosted voice technology in favour of a traditional phone system because they’re familiar with an established solution and understand the costs and maintenance associated with these options.

Yet it is worth exploring options you may consider too expensive or not appropriate – you may be surprised at how feasible a hosted voice option becomes when considered over a longer term.  Make time to appraise all options and don’t be afraid to ask the difficult questions to your potential suppliers.

Don’t shy away from new technology

We are based in a traditional listed building and have to work around walls and floors that weren’t built for modern day technology yet we didn’t let it stop us from investing in the network infrastructure capable of allowing us to take advantage of a hosted voice solution.

The extra costs of cabling were offset for us with the cost savings we made with our hosted voice agreement, for example, renting handsets within our agreement, rather than purchasing saved us an upfront investment.  If we can overcome the physical confines of implement a cloud based phone system within a listed building then arguably, most charities would be capable of taking advantage of this technology.

Research your potential new suppliers

Of course, having a supplier who is able to work with you to accomplish your goals and implement a future-proof telephone system is critical.  We looked at a variety of suppliers and chose Class because of their established relationship with the NCVO and the fact they had implemented a number of hosted voice solutions within the charity sector already.

Preferred Suppliers work with NCVO to provide quality services and discounts to NCVO members and Class has been an established NCVO provider for over 10 years. For us, this helped to reduce the risk of switching to a new supplier.

Work out what your deal breakers are

Understand exactly what you need from suppliers and what you can’t compromise on.  For Cumberland Lodge, we’re a 24/7 operation and had to have a supplier who was prepared to provide us with a continuous service whilst we upgraded and improved our services.

Our staff felt the support provided helped alleviate their fears about using a new telephone system.  We also provided up to date training on the new telephone system to help manage the transition between the old and new systems.

Cost out your move – over the short and longer term

It is easy to simply dismiss new technology when looking at initial costs but we took a longer term view of the investment required to go to a Cloud based system.  We had invested heavily in hardware and did have legacy kit but once we weighed up the costs of maintenance and future software upgrades against the cost benefits of a hosted voice platform, it made the decision simpler.

We also agreed not to make the decision on cost alone – as there were other factors we needed to consider; support and guidance at specification stage, leasing versus outright purchasing of equipment, security of data and service level agreements.

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