Thinking about Teams as your phone system? Lessons Learned

Everyone is talking Teams. The pandemic has driven adoption quicker than anyone imagined. Now many people have or are in the process of connecting Teams to the PSTN so they can use it as their phone system. In certain use groups Teams voice can be a fantastic solution. IF you have a fully or plan to have a fully developed Teams solution many of your users will be happy as heck with their voice enabled teams. However, as I assist clients with implementations I am finding more than my share of “gotchas”. If you want to use anything that is more than basic telephony these Gotchas could create more headaches than anyone deserves. Teams is also so new vendors simply do not have the experience to understand how Teams will react in many situations. I have compiled a list of Teams issues and will steet my clients away from teams, suggest a hybrid approach, or at a minimum educate them as to the “gotchas” so they can go into the situation with both eyes open. Make sure you understand your users needs and really understand if Teams is the solution. It may be! If it is not wouldn’t it be best to find out before you spend precious time and resources on an implementation that goes south!! Do you homework!!
Tom Pavek Pavek Technology Group

Is it time to take the band-aid off?

Well it looks like it is not going away soon. Google announced on July 27th, 2020 that they do not expect their employees to occupy their offices until July of 2021!! So how are you doing? Were you fortunate to be positioned to handle “working from home” or did you put band aid on to “make it work”? You may have quickly deployed Teams or Zoom, forwarded your desk phone to employee’s cell phones, or a combination of quick fixes. How is it working? What is your long-term strategy?
I have heard it said that the move to a remote workforce was predicted to take five years. This has been forced on us in just a few short weeks. If you took quick action to “make things work” you should step back and do a strategic assessment. Review all the components and make sure that there are no holes in your current environment. Where are you today and where are you going to be in the next several years.
A Strategic Assessment should be based on your needs as an organization. Then you look at your current technology and see how it maps to your needs. If there are items that do not map well then these should look at and a strategy for implementing improved technology should be developed. Sometimes changes can and should happen immediately while other times there may be barriers such as exiting contracts that extend when a technology should be implemented.
Take that band-aid off, examine the wound and develop a plan for it to heal!! Need help? Give me a call!!

I don't get it? Help me understand?

I can’t even count the number of times that I have heard “i can’t understand my IT guy”. A wise man once told me “if you do not understand someone talking technology one of two things is happening, either they do not understand or they do not want you to understand”. If you cannot understand your IT person, a technology sales person, the people who service and support your technology how can you trust them. You need to understand so that you can make educated decisions. Now understanding does not mean you need to get into bits, bytes and all the minutia. It does mean you need to be able understand at a level that makes you comfortable that you can make sound decisions.
For the listener – you deserve to understand:
I have been in many meetings where I have asked to have the conversation slowed down. I deserve to understand. I use the line “talk to me like I know nothing about technology”. This can help frame the discussion. If the discussion gets to simplistic then the dialog will bring it back up to an appropriate level. If this does not help then you have to ask if the person understands or if they don’t want you to understand. You need to take action and find someone who can help. This may be require a change in the person you are talking to or someone who can act as an adviser. Someone who can talk to the techie and then revise it to make it understandable to the professional.
For the presenter – it is your obligation to help your audience to understand:
Often time we live so deep in our environment that we are used to talking at a level that everyone in the “office” understands. We forget that our prospects, bosses, or clients do not live in this world. I have often used the “significant other” test. Explain your topic to a friend or significant other who is not in the tech industry. If I can make that person understand I may be speaking at an appropriate level. When I make technology recommendations I tell myself am I framing this in a way that my audience will understand? For example if I am working for a City or a County I want to make sure that the recommendation can be clearly understood by a Board or Council member.

When is it time to upgrade your phone system

After the past several decades I have answered this question for many clients. I do not believe in upgrading technology without a valid reason. I have used the following criteria when working with clients.
The reasons to change out a phone system:
Change in environment – if you are moving, adding a location, adding people, and that requires an investment in your current phone system you should ask the question is it best to invest in what I have or look to something else. This can also be true if you are downsizing. Paying for outside lines and maintenance on a phone system for the size you “were” may not be prudent.
There are new widgets – sometime there are new products that can show efficiencies that drive people to upgrade their phone system. Implementing a Contact Center, adding features to your call center such as text and email, mobility and integrating your mobile phones into your enterprise system are a examples of “widgets” that an enterprise may be able to benefit from.
The system is losing service and support – Manufacturers are all taking away support of old TDM systems. This is hard to tell management that it is time to invest when the system is doing everything it should. The risk is that a problem may take your business down for days. A software glitch may not be able to fixed because it is not supported, parts may be hard to find and only available via secondary market (like EBAY), and often most important vendors are losing trained staff on these products. Techs trained on the product are promoted or retire and companies do not train the young employees on old systems that do generate little revenue for the company. The questions you must ask are what is my risk? what is my backup plan to restore the system, what is my plan if the system simply goes down and I need to replace is quickly?
Save money – Of course cost is always a consideration. If you have less than 40 telephones and you have a maintenance contract, a PRI from the phone company, and old internet connection you may be able to get a new hosted telephone system and be close to revenue neutral. If you are around 20 phones you are likely to save money and get a new system.
Answer these questions and see if it is time. Contact a trusted advisory if you need help. Remember things in this industry are changing really fast so an annual review is a good idea.