Ip Telephony Tips From Experts

By: Mark Allen

Considering a switch to IP telephony. Look before you leap, here is a thing or two from the people who make the gear and have survived the process.

Stay staff savvy: Companies should not jettison their telephony staff. IT personnel may know IP, but they won't have mastery of call-related issues like setting up dial plans. Companies will also need a plan to merge their IT and telephony staffs.

Avoid chitchat: IP phones aren't passive devices. They talk to the network and trade information frequently. The result is a lot of overhead that can make network management a chore. Putting your voice operations on a virtual local area network is an easy way to prevent your data network operations from bogging down.

Know your integrator: The most important party in an IP deployment is the systems integrator. Make sure that you're comfortable with your integrator and that the project manager on the job is ready and willing to communicate with your company regarding project undertakings and issues.

Train, train, train: From telephony and IT staff to end users, everyone in the company will need training on the new IP phones and systems. If you don't get end users up to speed quickly, you could face an ugly backlash as users blame the equipment for problems. Cray set up a teaching lab with 20 IP phones, where an instructor could step employees through the new system.

Don't take chances: Unless you have the benefit of a clean-slate start, consider deploying an IP telephony trial before committing your business to the system. Lucent is taking this approach by deploying IP phones to all 2500 employees at a newly opened building. The company is acquiring valuable experience with the technology that it can later transfer to the rest of the business.

Tighten up IT: People simply won't tolerate problems in their phone system. Make sure that your IT department has the tools, skills, and discipline needed to finely control bandwidth prioritization, voice quality, service levels, and overall network health. Conducting an in-depth review of network traffic patterns before deployment will help IT identify staffing and equipment needs.

Respect the culture: Is your business ready for IP telephony, and does it need to make the switch? Review your business's IT skill sets and try to gauge whether your employees need a more advanced phone setup.

Be smart: Seek the insight of people in your IT and phone organizations who understand the IP technology and its implications. Look beyond immediate cost issues, and listen to your IT and telephone staffs. Your business and technical staffs will have to work together to develop a realistic vision for the new system.

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