0 Comments |  Technology |  PRINT | 

Picking the right phone system for your startup

Tuesday, 8 July 2014 | By Sam Bashiry

Starting a new business can be a daunting task, but one decision that should be easy to make is choosing the right telephone system.


While not the most glamorous choice you will make, it is one of the most important to get right. Not only is your telephony system vital to maintaining important business functionality and relationships, but picking the right system from day one could save you thousands.


Unfortunately, many new businesses fail to properly consider their telephone system in the first instance, often allowing their communications systems to grow in an ad hoc fashion until they become so unwieldy that they are faced with an urgent ultimatum – act now or lose business.


By planning ahead, you can avoid this pitfall, save money, and position your business for unlimited growth.

What is a PABX?


The most widely used telephony technology in use by businesses today is known as Private Automatic Branch Exchange or PABX. While the name might be slightly confronting, don’t let that turn you off.


At its most basic level a PABX system simply does, automatically, what telephone operators used to do in the (not so) old days of manual switchboards – connect calls to the right person or join calls together for conferences.


Modern PABX systems are much more powerful than that. Beyond simple call redirection, they include features like music-on-hold, voice mail, and call transfer; and more advanced features like in-call menus, voice-to-email, and virtual conference rooms. As PABX systems are administered by computers, they can be configured to do pretty much anything you want (time travel still in development).

Virtual vs on-site PABX


There are two types of PABX systems that are used by businesses today. The first is a traditional onsite PABX system, which involves a physical server sitting in the office, while the second is a virtual PABX system, managed off-site by your internet provider or third party PABX provider.

Why should you choose virtual PABX?


All business owners are planning for success and growth. It follows that savvy business owners want to install a phone system that is best suited for growth and can provide the greatest savings. So which one is best for your business?


With a traditional on-site PABX setup, your business is faced with significant set-up costs of anywhere between $5-100k. Additionally, you need to pay extra for each individual service (voicemail, conferencing, etc) and for ongoing maintenance and upgrades of the server.


Finally, on-site PABX systems generally require a new server to be installed in every new office or location your business moves into. It’s easy to see how the costs of such a system can quickly blow out as your business expands.


On the other hand, a virtual PABX system is situated offsite and is administered by your PABX provider, who is able to absorb the costs of maintenance and upgrades on a simple economy of scale.


The virtual system runs through your business’s broadband internet connection and allows your business to have as few or as many users as you like.


Additionally, users and locations can be administered, added or removed on demand. Whether your business expands, consolidates or changes, you will not be caught out with an overabundance or shortage of servers or capabilities. A simple phone call to your provider will enable or disable features on your system.


Virtual PABX systems are designed to accommodate for quick growth, helping you save on the extraordinary costs of relocating your existing server or installing new ones in new facilities.


Whether you have 1, 10 or 100 sites, your single virtual PABX will be able to run them all.

The decision?


These days, virtual PABX systems trumps traditional on-site systems in every way and it’s no surprise businesses of all shapes and sizes are transitioning from old on-site systems to virtual systems.


If you’re starting a new business, there is absolutely no need to waste money on expensive servers and repairs. A virtual PABX system will save you money from day one.


This a unique business decision in that a smaller, smarter investment will generate the biggest reward.


Sam Bashiry is managing director of Broadband Solutions.