I have worked for an independently owned telecom company for a little longer than 12 years and, as part of that job, I sell a variety of products. This includes Hosted PBX phone systems.
In general, Hosted PBX is a good product for many business customers. However, at least from my experience, initial installations of this type of product don’t always go as smoothly as promised. The good news, however, is many of the initial install headaches can be easily avoided by taking the time to talk to your provider and asking three questions before scheduling the installation.
First, is there any equipment you need to provide yourself? More than likely, you will be responsible for providing your own router and switch because, while some companies do provide these things, many don’t. Some companies also make you pick up the tab for additional wiring, jacks, etc. This is why it’s best to schedule a site survey first. This will give you a good idea about what is being provided and what isn’t. Plus, as an added benefit, you typically can get a rough estimate about how long the install will take.
Second, when do they plan on porting your phone numbers? Depending on the specific situation, this can vary. Some companies prefer to move advertised numbers over to the new phone system the same day they are doing the installation. Others will wait until a day or two after. It’s good to get this clarified so you can plan for any potential downtime accordingly.
Last, does your information technology person need to be involved? Even though I personally avoid doing this for my own customers, many Hosted PBX providers will attempt to save their customers money by sharing the same internet connection they use for their computers rather than have a separate connection just for the phones. As a result of this, there’s a good chance you might have to have your IT person involved to help with issues relating to your firewall, router settings, etc. It’s best to ask this question upfront because the earlier you can get that person involved, the better.
As I said before, Hosted PBX is a product that has the potential to provide long-term benefits for a business. However, if you aren’t careful, the installation can be much more complicated than expected. If you take the time to communicate with your provider and ask these questions, many of the headaches can be avoided.