The popularity of hosted private branch exchange (PBX) solutions has led to a surplus of information about these modern telephony systems. If you’re thinking of installing a PBX system in your office or small business, you have to make a few essential considerations.
Cost of Ownership
On-premise systems usually call for a big upfront investment, while hosted systems are paid for with smaller monthly payments. However, you have to look into the total cost of ownership (TCO) of such systems on top of the initial capital you need to buy a new phone network.
Specific Functionality vs. Bundled Functionality
Nowadays, the technical capabilities of hosted and on-premise PBX systems are mainly the same. The difference lies in the bundling of features. Hosted PBX providers typically bundle features and collect a fixed per-user price. On other hand, on-premise PBX gives you more flexibility in terms of the features and functionality that you are willing to pay for. If you need customization for your specific PBX uses, make sure you tell the provider in advance.
You will likely have to shop around to find the best company that can provide you the best bundle, depending on your needs and requirements. Before you choose a certain provider, let them give you a list of features in full detail, including an accurate cost estimate.
Customization is typically easy when you talk about on-premise systems, since there will often be an IT staff on site that takes care of the system’s deployment and management. But with hosted systems, it is the provider’s job to handle customization. The problem in most cases is that the provider will only be able to customize up to a particular degree. If you require highly detailed customization, you may find on-premise PBX more suitable. If you want to go with the hosted option, check with the provider whether they can meet the level of customization that you need.
Smooth User Experience
PBX systems prioritize data traffic in order to boost voice quality. Since voice and data packets typically compete for preference, data quality is lower with hosted PBX solutions.
As a solution, a Session Border Controller (SBC) device is offered by hosted vendors, but this will not come for free, both in cost and complexity. If you expect voice quality to be an issue in larger networks, take note of this as you decide between a hosted and an on-premise system.
Cost of Tech Support
If your company maintains your own data, you probably have a well-staffed IT team. This should mean too that with a hosted PBX system, you will likely keep your existing staff. Instead, this only passes the responsibility from your in-house experts to third-party experts, thus increasing instead of minimizing your costs.
If you don’t have an IT team in your company right now, hosted PBX frees you from the cost of having your own IT team. But don’t forget to consider how relying on third-party support will jive with the systems you’re currently using.