If you are contemplating a Unified Communications (UC) solution for your business, key points to consider are the efficiency and functionality of your organization’s current telecommunications strategy, followed by why and how your business should implement Unified Communications. For smaller organizations, UC implementation is simplified due to the smaller number of users. In these businesses, it’s easier for an IT manager to configure applications on individual desktops, whereas in medium to large organizations there simply aren’t enough resources to utilize this method. Instead, the IT manager may send the client application to a central location for download, or send an e-mail to users with a link for them to self-configure their desktops. Regardless of your organization’s size, it’s still crucial that you evaluate current systems and solicit feedback from employees when integrating Unified Communications into your business. The following list of guidelines can help you develop a strategy to guide you.
- UC project management
The first step you’ll want to take is identifying a project manager to oversee all UC implementation. You will also want to form an interdependent team –members from all sides and departments of your business who can benefit from the increased user productivity of UC implementation. You can simplify UC project management through thorough planning and the consistent assessment of needs, risks, and benefits of the project. Becoming very familiar with your prospective Unified Communications provider is also beneficial, making sure the provider can help your business adapt to changing needs. Evaluate the mobility of your workforce and see how UC projects will fit in to, for example, a bring your own device (BYOD) policy. Having a back-up plan as well as a recovery strategy in case of an emergency is also something you’ll want to think about sooner rather than later.
- Understand business needs EARLY
Ask what problems need to be solved and what other processes within your organization are in need of improvement? When preparing to implement UC, you must thoroughly understand what business processes are taking place and how improving such processes will contribute to enhanced productivity. In doing so, involving business partners in developing a UC strategy is ideal. By doing so, you can gain a better understanding of, for example, how important mobility is to business processes/practices. Have your UC project management personnel spend some time with employees in their daily workings to gain first-hand experience of how UC planning can help them.
- Assess current performance and solidify business buy-in
Evaluate how the implementation of UC applications will change your current IT infrastructure. Consider performance, cost, satisfaction, and general success and failure of business processes. Recording this information can be very helpful in comparing current operations to future operations. Also consider the amount of traffic you receive and from there determine which UC applications can best handle your traffic flow. Once you have decided which UC solutions you will implement, it is imperative the entire business agrees with the new technology implementation.
- Provide Product Outline
Provide key staff members the framework for potential product and services to be implemented and keep members of your organization well informed about developments in the strategy. As you receive feedback, start implementing small scale changes and continue to communicate implementation plans so you can make the full solution transition much smoother. You may want to take advantage of opportunities to test performance of your selected UC solution before implementation. Employing the “build-a-little-test-a-little”strategy can be very beneficial as it allows staff and users to test applications and give feedback.
Employing UC comes with many benefits–increased productivity, satisfaction, and savings. However, in order to fully yield these benefits, your staff must be well-trained on the solution you choose to implement. The good news is, training will be relatively easy since many users are familiar with and comfortable using UC type applications in their personal lives. On the flip side, just because users are comfortable, doesn’t mean training is any less of a necessity. Training is key in maximizing your investment and ROI – if users are not properly trained, they will likely not use the application and view it as a waste. How do your users learn to adapt to new technology? It is essential that training providers give IT staff quality instruction based on implemented UC solutions. Users must be able to receive quick, reliable feedback to any problems. Providing critical UC training to employees is vital in successful adoption. Determine the best environment to train your users, whether it is online, in-classroom, etc. To make sure users are completely comfortable with the new platform, allowing them to work remotely from time to time may be ideal, especially forbusiness continuity.
Lastly, it is important not to leave UC planning up to users. According to research from Nemertes, companies that have a prior UC plan in place are “measurably better” compared to companies that leave strategy planning in the hands of their users. Proper preparation and strategy can have your business well on its way to not only reaping the benefits of Unified Communications, but seeing drastic improvements in your organizations workflow. To really see the value in your investment, plan on tracking your improvements and measuring your ROI. To see how UC yielded measurable results and improved the workflow of one company, download the ROI of Unified Communications white paper below.