For many organizations, the opportunity to eliminate their internal telephone system responsibilities and move them to a hosted environment represent many benefits. There is no longer the need to worry about the telephone system reliability. Hardware maintenance and upgrade costs go away. And, local service telephone bills disappear. This does not even account for the potential productivity gains that can be achieved by moving to a feature filled, cloud based solution.
However, as you examine the significant benefits that can be delivered, there are a few considerations that need to be thoroughly addressed. As you move to a hosted telephone service, your telephone numbers leave your direct control and become part of the hosted providers block. So, you are no longer the customer of record for these telephone numbers. Here are five questions that need to be considered.
- What is their porting process? Do you know what information you need to provide to have the provider port your telephone numbers to their services? What is the timing for this process? And, are there telephone numbers they cannot port?
- Can you get your telephone numbers back? If you are unsatisfied with the service or want to make a change in the future, what is the process of retrieving your critical telephone numbers? It is valuable to obtain this in writing or view the pre-prepared process.
- What happens if the hosted provider goes out of business? This is not such a concern for some of the larger hosted providers, but, for lesser known providers, this could be a challenge. Depending on the circumstances, the organization could go into receivership further complicating the process.
- When the telephone numbers are moved over to the hosted provider, will your company name still appear on the called party’s caller ID? This applies to your original numbers you ported as well as any subsequent numbers you obtain.
- Does the hosted company have a solution for e911? If you needed to contact emergency services, would they show up at the correct site? This is especially important if your hosted solution incorporates more than one site.
It is also important to note this does not only apply to hosted telephone services. Many organizations are also looking at services including hosted fax, hosted call center and Unified Communications. These questions do still apply.
Hosted voice services can be a strategic advantage for many organizations eliminating both CAPEX and OPEX while also providing efficiency enhancements. But, it is critical you understand the answers to these questions as it could result in your company losing control of telephone numbers vital to your organization. And, these responses should be in writing, not just a verbal response. People change.