Small businesses will generally use two different styles of telephone systems – VOIP and PBX.
VOIP: A VOIP (voice over Internet Protocol) telephone system that is hosted on the internet / cloud which enables a business on the move to function more easily.
PBX (traditional phone systems): The PBX solution (private branch exchange) will generally be an in-office solution of multiple lines / handsets connected to a main controller box unit that receives and distributes calls to users.
What questions should you ask yourself if you are thinking of purchasing / hiring a telephone system for your business:
- Where do you intend using the telephone system – at home, in the office, rented offices, on the move etc?
- How big is your business currently and how many lines / users do you require?
- What is your mid/long term vision for your business as if it includes expansion then you will need to consider a telephone system that allows for your growth in requirements?
- Is your internet speed / quality good enough to cope with VOIP?
- What features will you require as some options include detailed extras which can be costly upgrades such as call forwarding to mobiles and CTI (Computer Telephony Integration)?
- What is your current budget and also your budget if you expand?
Things to look out for:
- Try not to get tied in to any long rental / maintenance contracts.
- Try and opt for a solution that allows for expansion.
- If venturing in to PBX options and especially dated solutions, make sure that replacements / upgrades are not too expensive.
Here are some suppliers to research:
VTSL – An easy to set up and use leading provider of cloud-based VoIP business phone systems. VTSL ‘Business Starter’ package is priced at only £8 per user per month with no contract and with live dedicated support.
RingCentral – With packages starting at just £7.99 with a two week free trial and their superior small business package at just £19.99 with extras such as HD video calling, automatic call recording and a freephone / local number – Ringrental seems to be a current leading solution for small business VOIP systems.
3CX – Offering an open-platform, software VoIP phone system that works with popular IP Phones and SIP trunks whether on-premise or in the cloud. With an annual licence/subscription which is based on the number of simultaneous calls required and prices starting at £188 for a 4 sim. call Pro package it would seem 3CX is a better solution for a small business with quick expansion plans.
Vonage – From just £9 monthly per user with mobile and desktop apps, the Vonage solution also includes extra added options such as the ability to listen in on calls, “whisper” secretly to employees, or even join the conversation.
Orchid Telecom PBX 308+ – This PBX offers you up to 3 telephone lines and provides up to 8 extensions to desk phones or cordless phones. Handsets will require sockets and connection back to the main PBX unit though it has many standard and useful features such as conference calls, music on hold, remote programming and call forwarding to secretary.
NEC SL2100 – More suited to already established businesses looking for a telephone system they can rely on, gives great features and allows for expansion with users from 5 – 100. It is designed to suit most business needs with built in VoIP capabilities and apps suited to business styles such as InHotel, InGuard, InReports.