How VoIP helps organizations avoid technology that won’t scale

As a business owner, sometimes it’s difficult to predict where your company will be in the next several years, or even the next few months. You may be on an upswing, adding new employees and growing into new departments, or you may hit a rough patch and need to downsize.

Scaling your phone system may be the last thing on your mind during times of transition, but it’s important to consider how personnel changes will affect this vital equipment for business.

“Businesses grow and change,” says Alex Desberg, sales and marketing director at Ohio.net. “We find that if they’re using Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), there is ease and ability to grow. If they’re using traditional phones, there’s a certain amount of pain, additional hardware and consulting time that they have to go through to grow their phone system.”

Smart Business spoke with Desberg to find out how VoIP systems save business owners money and hassle by easily scaling to the size the company needs.

What difficulties do companies with traditional phone systems experience as they grow?

Traditional phones have few components: the phone that’s on the desk, the phone system itself and the copper phone lines supplied by the phone company. Each one of those, depending on what a company needs, will need to be resized and changed. As you add more lines, the phone on your desk may not be able to support additional lines, so you may be buying additional phones. The brains of the unit may not have enough ports, cards or memory, and you may need to upgrade that. You may also need additional copper phone lines. Each of those adds cost — it may be a one-time cost for the hardware and upgrades, or it may be an additional monthly cost.

How do VoIP systems make it easier for companies to scale their phone systems as their business expands and contracts?

With a VoIP system, the phone that sits on the desk is programmable, so if it’s not capable of doing what you want today, it doesn’t mean that you need to throw it away and start again; you’re just changing the software programming in it.

Also, the ‘brains’ of a VoIP system, which contains all the features and functions, isn’t owned by the company. The company is not responsible for it and it doesn’t live at their office. VoIP is easily upgradeable as a service and provides a company with more scalability and functionality than a traditional phone system.

Finally, depending on the VoIP system you’re on, you may have unlimited calling or may be able to add calling at a much more reduced rate because you don’t need to have copper lines brought in and you don’t need to sign long-term contracts with your phone company.

Alternately, if a company is downsizing, with VoIP you reduce your costs every time you remove a line from the phone system. With traditional phones, you’ve made that hardware investment so you lose that when you scale down.

What if a company doesn’t need new phones but wants to put additional features in place?

If you want to add features, such as the ability to host a conference call, and your traditional phone system doesn’t have that ability, it’s typically an additional piece of hardware or a card that someone will come out and install. With VoIP, it’s just added as a service — the provider can just turn it on for you, and you’re ready to go.

When you own a traditional phone system, at some point they stop making additional features for the one that you own. If you want those new features that are developed, you need to buy the new series of that phone system or the new model. But as new services are added in the VoIP world, there is no new hardware to refresh, change or throw out — it just becomes an added-on service.

Insights Telecommunications is brought to you by Ohio.net