10 key questions to ask potential UC providers

So, you’ve made the decision to adopt a unified communications strategy. What’s the right solution for you and how do you go about finding the right service provider?

Although the UC and collaboration marketplace may seem to be dominated by a small number of major vendor solutions, there are a lot of licenses, peripherals add-ons and enhancements to consider. It is the integration of these “finer points” that may make the difference between a successful implementation and an expensive failure.

Given what is potentially riding on the success of your UC strategy, it is vital that you choose the right service provider. Here are 10 key questions to ask when evaluating potential partners:

  1. How do they go about planning and designing a UC solution that is aligned to your business objectives?
    A proven methodology is important here. Look for a robust process that engages with stakeholders across the organisation and considers both your long-term objectives and your existing workflows.
  2. What do they plan to do with your legacy systems?
    It’s likely that you will have some existing hardware or software that you can still gain some value from. Don’t look to throw it all away and start from scratch – rarely is this the best solution.
  3. What kind of relationship do they have with their vendors?
    You don’t have to pick the biggest service provider to get traction with the vendor, but finding one that has the ear of the original equipment manufacturers will yield benefits in terms of second-line support and vendor escalation if it comes to it.
  4. What is their approach to systems integration?
    Your new solution is going to need to work with a range of hardware and software, including your directory systems, email server, office applications and CRM. Experience of wide-scale systems integration in a service provider is essential.
  5. Do they have their own data centre and cloud infrastructure?
    When it comes to UC, scalability and flexibility are two of the key value-adds. Your service provider should have a robust cloud infrastructure to call upon, to provide that all-important business agility.
  6. Are they able to deploy your UC across any device?
    Modern workers use an average of three devices per day. Your service provider needs to be able to deliver a consistent, high-quality experience across a wide range of mobile and static devices.
  7. Will they try and lock you into a specific set of technologies?
    Flexibility is one of the keys to a successful long-term relationship. Your service provider will need to have a roadmap in place, but it shouldn’t be set in stone. As the technologies, and your objectives, evolve over time, they should be flexible enough to incorporate innovation and maintain best value for your organisation.
  8. What’s their security like?
    The chances are, your workgroups will be exchanging either confidential or sensitive information during their collaboration sessions. Look for robust security policies such as two-factor user authentication and data encryption.
  9. What management information can they provide?
    Data analysis and reporting plays an important role in systems optimisation and ensures you are getting the most out of your new solution.
  10. What are their service level agreements like?
    Look for two essential elements here. First, a comprehensive agreement that covers all aspects of your UC – from connectivity to platform and device management. Second, you should be looking for four nines (99.99%) in terms of availability – this will equate to less than 1 hour of unplanned downtime per year.

If you would like to find out more about cloud, hybrid or on-premises UC and collaboration solutions from ONI, visit: https://www.oni.co.uk/solutions-services/ucc-as-a-service/ call us direct on 01582 429 999 or email getintouch@oni.co.uk

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