Phone systems aren’t updated nearly as frequently as desktop and mobile devices. It can be difficult to justify replacing even the oldest phone equipment when it seems to work just fine. On the other hand, laptops and smartphones that don’t support new applications or meet performance demands have a direct impact on day-to-day work activities.

But phone systems don’t last forever. When a manufacturer stops making or supporting your phone system, consider it obsolete. Just don’t let it get to that point before you start the replacement process.

Think about the consequences of a seemingly indestructible phone system that finally crashes and can’t be restored. Sales reps can’t make or receive calls. Customer service by phone comes to a halt. How much money will a failed phone system cost you by disrupting business operations? Sure, you can make calls from mobile devices, but will your customers and prospects recognize those numbers? Do your mobile devices have the capacity to support high call and message volume? Do they have the appropriate voicemail messages and features?

As reliant as your employees are on mobile devices, smartphones can’t replace the main phone system, and they certainly don’t provide instant cover in case of an emergency. When the main phone system crashes, it has to be replaced. That process becomes a rush job instead of a planned strategy in which solutions and vendors are carefully vetted. When you wait until the system fails, replacement also becomes an unplanned expense, which can force you to cut costs in other areas of your business.

Even if your old equipment doesn’t fail, it probably doesn’t have the advanced features of a modern phone system. More than a communications tool, a modern phone system can improve productivity and the customer experience. Look for features such as call forwarding to mobile devices, voicemail-to-email, Bluetooth connectivity, on-demand or automatic call recording, detailed call reports, and the ability to integrate with customer relationship management systems and other business applications. Administrators should be able to remotely manage the system through one online interface.

A modern phone system should also have the capacity to grow with your business as it adds new locations, employees and customers. If your organization is expanding, moving or opening new locations, or your carrier contract is expiring, these are the perfect times to upgrade your phone system.

When planning a phone system upgrade, make sure you have the bandwidth and network infrastructure to support the new system. A gigabit network is ideal, and Power-over-Ethernet switches allow you to plug phones directly into the network. Do you want an on-premises system or a cloud-based system? Both have their pros and cons in terms of cost, control, flexibility, infrastructure requirements and security. Speaking of security, address security and compliance prior to installation rather than figuring out how to secure the phone system after the fact. Plan to train employees on the new phone system to maximize its value. Finally, consider bringing in a managed services provider to maintain and support your system, especially if you have limited in-house IT staff and expertise.

IPC specializes in the design, implementation and management of both on-premises and cloud-based phone systems. Let us help you determine which approach is right for your organization and choose a phone system and features that are aligned with your business processes and goals.