Choosing the right phone system for your small business is a crucial business decision and making sure you make the right choice is hugely important if you want your business to continue its upward growth.
Phone Systems for Small Business
There are a number of factors that go in to choosing the right phone system for your business. The most important being the size and scale of your organization. Communication is key to the success of any enterprise in today’s marketplace but it is worth considering that a phone system designed for a multinational, global organization may not necessarily be the best fit for a small business or startup.
|Small Businesses: What to Consider When Choosing Your Phone System|
|Small Business Phone System Costs|
|Best Office Phones for Small Businesses|
|Unified Communications Solutions|
The size of your business and office space is particularly important when it comes to choosing the best small business phone system. Not only should you consider the service you deliver now but growth strategy, something of paramount importance for startups should also be considered as it is vital the phone system you choose can be scaled and managed easily as your business continues to grow.
Small Businesses: What to Consider When Choosing Your Phone System
Business phone systems are designed to cater for a number of users and include multiple phone handsets, lines and numbers, all of which can better help to meet customers and clients needs more closely.
This is particularly relevant for small businesses, as although the number of lines needed may not be important now, the features and functions of a good phone system can drastically help improve productivity and efficiency which is vitally important for small businesses delivering a professional service.
With this in mind it is important you choose the right type of phone system for your business. Things to consider are:
- Current Size of your Business – how many users are needed
- Office Space – smaller spaces favour cloud based and virtual systems
- Custom Features – what will help you get the most out of your phone system
- Growth strategy – where is your business heading in the next five years in terms of number of employees and workload
Each phone system includes a variety of different features and the functions that are most important to your small business will depend on the industry you operate within, the current size of your business and work space as already covered. The most common types of phone systems are listed below:
- PBX (Private Branch Exchange)
- VoIP ( Voice over Internet Protocol)
- UC (Unified Communications)
- IVR (Interactive Voice Response)
Each type of system has their pros and cons and often small business phone systems will run on private branch exchanges (PBX) which allow organizations to seamlessly manage inbound and outbound calls and can also be easily scaled making them perfect for organizations with growth strategies in place. As well as this they use the same networks that handle their internet data, saving money on installation and maintenance fees.
What type of phone system do you require?
Small Business Phone System Costs
When it comes to managing outgoing costs and managing business systems on a budget small businesses know they have to find systems that fit within their organization and allow them to get the most for their money whilst still having a positive impact on efficiency and productivity.
Calculating the cost of a phone system for your small business depends largely on a number of factors. As laid out in the section above, there are a number of different types of system, each with their own benefits and advantages and to ensure you choose the right one for your business will mean taking the time to find the right fit for the tasks and processes your business prioritizes via your telecoms system.
Today there are a number of phone systems with the capabilities to be hosted away from your office and business premises on external servers or cloud based. This brings initial installations costs down as well as helping you save money on hefty equipment or on going maintenance fees which can dramatically help you lower costs in the long run. These VoIP and Virtual systems are also easy to expand meaning you no longer have to worry about paying large fees when it comes to scaling the number of business users on your system.
A leading telecoms provider for over 30 years, Cisco has a range of options and phone system solutions to help small businesses improve their communications. As a leader in the field Cisco offer technology that can aid the growth of organizations regardless of their sector or industry.
Advantages of Cisco for Small Businesses:
- Leading Technology – As a leading provider, Cisco are at the forefront of business phone systems ensuring your business remains competitive
- Flexibility – With such a large selection of technology you can find a system perfectly matched for your business.
Providing phone systems for businesses of all sizes ESI is the preferred choice of some of the largest brands in the world, worth considering for small businesses with aggressive growth strategies.
ESI also provide a number of features ideal for small to medium sized organizations including customizable music or messages for customers on hold as well as IP and softphone capabilities.
Benefits of ESI:
- Security – By providing the phone systems for some of the world’s largest organizations you can be your service is complete secure.
- Feature Rich – Take advantage of the features offered by ESI to tailor a phone system to your business needs.
Another major business phone systems provider within the U.S., Panasonic offer a range of leading technology and specialize in IP solutions ideal for small businesses.
IP systems have a number of advantages for startups and small organizations including allowing enterprises to avoid paying large up fee’s for outdated, traditional systems that cant be scaled effectively.
Panasonic have a number of systems designed specifically for small businesses including the KX-TA824 which restricts the number of external lines and phone systems that can be connected but as a result can work out as a more cost effective option for smaller businesses.
Advantages of Panasonic for Small Business:
- IP Business Phone Systems – Save on upfront costs and easily scale your system when more users are needed.
- Versatility – Offering a range of phone systems and handsets, Panasonic can provide solutions for all types of businesses and users.
Mitel allow small businesses to take full control of their phone systems by offering tailored services dependent on the industry or type of enterprise.
This is particularly useful for smaller businesses who are unsure of the types of features that are most beneficial for them and don’t want to run up unnecessary bills or pay for functions that will never be used.
- Aid Collaboration – Connect with colleagues and clients through a range of voice and video systems
- Tailored Systems – Choose the exact features that will benefit your organization most and save money by not paying for systems that will be a drain of resource.
Another leading provider, Zultys’ highly rated VoIP phone system allows small business to compete with larger organizations by offering feature rich solutions tailored for SMEs.
Offering communication services that combine voice, video, instant messaging and fax into a single appliance Zultys cater for small businesses by connect small teams with potential customers, allowing more than enough space for growth as well.
- Easy to Use – Zultys phone systems are easy to use and set up meaning small businesses need not spend money on costly installation or maintenance.
- Avoid Unnecessary Expense – eliminate hosted web and additional conference services with Zultys communication bundles for small business.
Compare small business phone system prices by filling in the form at the top of the page.
Best Office Phones for Small Businesses
The latest phone system handsets contain features that are designed to improve productivity and overall communication levels both internally and externally within an organization.
This technology means that there is now a large choice of models from a range of manufactures that can help small businesses take their communications process to the next level.
This also means that choosing the correct handset is vitally important if you're to get the most from your telecoms system and below we have reviewed the top three best phone systems for small businesses.
The Polycom VVX-500 contains an easy to navigate color touchscreen with can display up to 10 users. The IP phone handset also comes with a built in speakerphone for further collaboration.
Advantages of the Polycom VVX-500:
- As well as speakerphone capabilities the VVX-500 handset contains a dedicated RJ-9 headset port.
- Polycom high definition voice technology
The Yealink W52P cordless phone is perfect for office mobility and the plug and play wireless technology included makes it a great fit for smaller businesses.
Benefits of Yealink W52P for Small Businesses:
- Up to 4 handsets per base with 4 simultaneous calls ideal for small offices.
- Backlit color display makes the phone easy to use.
The Panasonic DECT 6.0 is a hybrid corded base station as well as an expandable cord phone system. The two types of office phone mean your business can benefit from both desk phones and cordless office handsets which both have their advantages.
Advantages of the Panasonic KX-TGF382M:
- Includes 2 cordless handsets which can be expanded up to 5 per base station.
- Features include audible caller id, digital answering system and call blocking capabilities.
Unified Communications Solutions for Small Business
Unified Communication business phones systems combine a variety of applications and technologies into one package. Voice, data and video can be integrated into one system. In this article three UC phone systems for small businesses will be subject to comparison, detailing which features distinguish one from another. The three systems being compared are:
- FortiVoice 200D
- Avaya IP Office 500
- Cisco UC 320W- FXO-K9
Fortinet is one of the leading producers of business phone systems offering a series of digital and IP phone systems. In 2013, the FortiVoice 200D was awarded the Unified Communications Solutions Product of the Year by Internet Telephony and Customer magazines.
For smaller sized businesses, the FortiVoice 40, 40S, 70, 100 and 100T will accommodate up to 400 users while maintaining the features of a larger business phone system and costing less. These systems are conveniently compact for a small business.
- There is an embedded SIP (Session Internet Protocol) server for IP extensions plus a LAN Ethernet Connection and USB ports for expansion.
- 20 Auto Attendant lines in several languages plus directed options for callers.
- Seamless routing of calls from office to cellphones, home phones and off-site locations.
- Voice to Email.
- Dial by name directory.
- Integrated voicemail, allowing cellphone and desk messages to be bundled together in a single storage space.
- 8 VoIP lines connecting to local and national sites.
- Ring Groups - allowing different departments to identify each other by allotting distinctive ringtones to each department.
Although the Fortivoice systems share several features and functions with the Avaya and Cisco systems yet to be discussed, it is the Ring Group feature that distinguishes the FortiVoice system from the others
However, the Fortivoice business phone system does not have any sophisticated function for video and audio conferencing unlike the Avaya IP Office 500.
Avaya IP Office 500
Avaya IP Office 500
The Avaya IP Office 500, named the Unified Communications Product of the Year by Internet Telephony Magazine, has many features all of which help optimize business collaboration.
The Avaya IP Office series of business phones are designed for small to medium-sized companies. The outstanding feature that distinguishes the Avaya IP Office 500 product from others is its 128 part video and audio conferencing capability with video softphones and conference recording.
The system, compatible with Avaya and Nortel phones, is also highly flexible and can be scaled in accordance with the needs of an expanding business. The Avaya IP Office 500 can connect to almost anywhere.
Like the FVC series, the Avaya IP Office 500 can be used as either a traditional phone system or by utilizing VoIP.
However the Avaya system can use digital, analog, IP and SIP (Session Initiated Protocol) in any permutation, and unlike the FortiVoice and Cisco systems, the voicemail function is free.
Cisco Unified Communications 300 Series
Cisco UC 320W- FXO-K9
The Cisco Unified Communications 300 series, being compact in structure, is specifically designed for small businesses. The model UC 320W- FXO-K9 accommodates up to 24 users and is licensed for up to 24 phones.
Management of this phone system is carried out via the Web, distinguishing it from the Avaya and Fortivoice systems. Installation is very easy - a setup wizard allows changes, additions and phones to be relocated.
There are wireless access points providing the means for co-workers to connect with each other by voice and data on and off-site. Wireless networking is available on-site.
This system also supports Ethernet WAN, connecting the office to the Internet. There is VLAN (Virtual Local Area Network) support should the business need to expand and/or connect more devices.
Built into the Cisco UC 320W-FXO-K9 is a key system and an IP PBX ( Internet Protocol Private Branch Exchange). Cisco Spa 300 and 500 are the best phones to use with this system.
Like Avaya, this system supports SIP trunking, and like Fortivoice, it also features voice to email and auto attendant. All three systems have voicemail features.
A total of 9 analog telephones can be used with the Cisco Spa 8800 gateway, therefore like Avaya and the FVC series, the Cisco UC 320W -FXO-K9 can support both traditional analog and VoIP phones. 12 PSTN (Public Switch Telephone Network) lines can also be connected.