5 Steps to Successful UCaaS Procurement
In this blog, we look in-depth at a successful UCaaS (Unified Communications) procurement process, and how to make one work seamlessly for your business.
Unified Communications as a Service, or UCaaS, has revolutionized workplace communication, allowing enterprises to leverage a diverse toolset of technology into a unified, cloud-based platform. Flexible, scalable, and cost-effective, it enhances collaboration, supports remote work, and ensures streamlined communication. Deploying UCaaS solutions is an effective way for businesses to adapt, innovate, and thrive in today's dynamic, interconnected work environment. However, it starts with finding the right partner. In this blog, we look in-depth at successful UCaaS procurement, and how to make it work seamlessly for your business.
What is UCaaS?
UCaaS, or Unified Communications as a Service, is a cloud-based platform that integrates various communication and collaboration tools. It offers features like voice and video calling, messaging, and conferencing, enhancing workplace connectivity. UCaaS also streamlines communication, boosts productivity, and enables seamless collaboration across a range of communication channels for businesses of all sizes.
While it’s a more technical explanation, we love Gartner’s definition: a multitenant, subscription-based service that is cloud-delivered and provides business telephony features, external PSTN connectivity that allows for inbound or outbound calling, and collaboration capabilities such as messaging and meetings. UCaaS services can be consumed by end users with traditional handsets, desktop clients, meeting-room systems, and mobile apps.
What Makes a Strong UCaaS Solution?
Again, using Gartner as a source, a robust UCaaS solution must allow for seamless telephony, meetings, and messaging. Typical points of communication include software apps, a contact center, quality of service (QoS) monitoring, and Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). But what does all that mean?
Luckily, you have the Lightyear Telecom Operating System to help. UCaaS is a regular area of interest for our users, and it is a common concern for most enterprise-level businesses. We’ve put together a consolidated list of steps and considerations for your UCaaS procurement process, so let’s get to it.
Creating a Seamless UCaaS Procurement Process
Remember, if you need further assistance with UCaaS procurement, Lightyear’s Telecom Operating System and our team are always on hand to help.
1. Why Choose UCaaS?
A solid procurement process starts with a firm grounding in why you want to start the procurement process. UCaaS is a flexible solution, and the reasons for UCaaS Procurement vary from customer to customer. Here are a few of the top reasons we see for Enterprise Businesses using the Lightyear Platform for UCaaS procurement.
They are unhappy with their current UCaaS provider as a result of cost, insufficient features, or simply identification of a new-school vendor that may be better fit for your business needs.
They have outdated, premise-based telephone systems – it doesn’t make sense to continue investing maintenance and licensing into these systems.
They want to explore UCaaS’s potential for cost savings. Premise-based phone systems require voice connectivity, hardware, software licenses, and trained technicians to keep everything running. UCaaS can be much kinder on the budget when done right.
They want a scalable solution that will help future-proof their environment. Mergers and acquisitions stress premise-based phone systems but are a reality for any enterprise-sized business. The larger the company grows in people as well as geography, the harder it is for a premise-based phone system to keep up.
Technology refresh is another drawcard. UCaaS solutions provide several collaboration and productivity tools that aren't always available in premise-based systems.
Review the reasons for changing communications approaches against what you already have in place. This is a cautionary tale, not navel-gazing. The business’ technical support staff must understand that UCaaS is a convergence of voice and data, not like in older systems where the two are separate.
UCaaS blurs the line between voice services and software applications. There are popular applications that may already be installed on your desktops just waiting for additional UCaaS feature functionality – like Microsoft Teams and Zoom.
We’ve seen enterprise businesses go through an extensive search for a UCaaS solution – sometimes from one UCaaS provider to another, migrating from premise-based to UCaaS – because they saw or heard about some cool emerging feature they think would benefit their business. After doing due diligence, they take a step back before signing on the dotted line, only to find the feature was available in their current environment all along. They just had to have it enabled, like enabling VoIP on their existing Microsoft Teams client.
2. Decide What Matters Most
UCaaS is a varied and fertile field with a wealth of solutions for every level. Take the time to develop a matrix of features and functionalities that are important to your business and need to be fulfilled by UCaaS. Here are a few examples.
How many types of users/seats are needed?
What is the cost per seat type?
Are there integrations with O365 Teams or G-Suite?
Can existing hardware (like desk phones) be used?
What analytics are available?
How does voicemail work in the system?
What security features are in place?
How do you manage the installation process?
What’s the process for adding users or locations to the UCaaS environment?
How do you handle tickets/troubleshooting?
What geographic areas can the UCaaS provider offer service in?
3. Finding the Right UCaaS Partner
With a solid grounding in what you want and need from the UCaaS procurement process, it’s time to see what solutions are available. Assemble a list of providers from whom you want to see demos. After you review the reasons your business wants to start on a UCaaS procurement process, make sure your current environment won’t work going forward, and list the features you need, it’s time to schedule those demos.
Think of this as a test drive at a car dealership. Using that analogy, it would be something like, “My family is growing, and we no longer fit into the 2-door coupe. We need something larger and are interested in a 4-door sedan. We need to make sure the car has 4 doors, child-safety seat anchors, keyless entry, an alarm system, and a good sound system. Based on that, here are the cars we think will suit our needs and we want to test drive.”
Now watch the demos from the top providers that have UCaaS solutions for your requirements, and evaluate how they will fit into this plan. Ensure you’re keeping “score,” using the matrix and rate each provider’s solution. (Alternatively of course, Lightyear can arrange and audit this process on your behalf).
The main stakeholders in the decision-making process must be available and attend the demos. There are instances when UCaaS providers may even set up a proof of concept (POC) as part of the demo process. Here, they will send phones and enable their application for users to test at a site.
If you want to take that a step further, before committing to a full-scale implementation, consider running a pilot program with a select group of users. This allows organizations to assess the actual performance of the UCaaS solution in a real-world environment. Gather feedback from users and address issues that arise during the pilot phase.
Of course, some of the ratings will be subjective. As an example, some people want to make sure the provider’s portal is easy to use. “Easy” is a subjective measurement and means different things to different people. Other ratings are objective, like budget and cost considerations. If affordability is one of the factors critical to your decision, list it as an objective metric.
Conduct a thorough cost analysis to compare the pricing models of different vendors, too. Consider not only the initial setup costs but also ongoing subscription fees, potential hidden costs, and the total cost of ownership over time. Ensure there is transparency in pricing and seek clarification on any ambiguous cost structures.
4. Deciding on a UCaaS Partnership
Now, it’s time to review those demo results with your internal team and make your final decision. Be certain all your stakeholders are represented and have had a chance to review their matrix and decide on providers that are best for their needs.
When you have made your decision, there’s one last step – negotiate. You’ll want to ask the provider if there’s any room for additional discounting on the pricing, because what’s better than a good deal? A great one!
You should also review the contract’s terms and conditions and make sure they’re aligned with your expectations. Redline the contract with any changes your business feels is appropriate and negotiate the changes so you can find the best UCaaS solution.
5. Planning for Deployment
Today, we’re focusing more on procurement than implementation, but there are some things to keep in mind for the future, too. Try to develop a comprehensive implementation plan with your prospective provider that outlines the deployment timeline, migration strategy, and any training programs they offer. Looking ahead from the start is the best way to ensure a smooth transition from your existing communication infrastructure to your new UCaaS solution. Make sure to communicate the changes to stakeholders and provide the necessary training to ensure a seamless transition.
It’s worth reiterating that user adoption is the cornerstone of successful UCaaS implementation. Ensure you have a plan to train users and familiarize them with your new tools and features. This ensures you address any concerns or resistance through proactive communication and support.
Once you have fully implemented your UCaaS solution, performance monitoring should be on the agenda. You’ll want a means to gather user feedback, track key performance indicators (KPIs), and address any emerging issues promptly. You can explore opportunities for optimization, such as adding new features or adjusting configurations to better align with your evolving business needs. Plan for compliance and security audits to ensure your UCaaS solution continues to meet industry regulations and security standards. You will need to ensure there’s a clear communication channel between you and the provider to access updates and patches to address any vulnerabilities promptly.
Finding the best UCaaS provider for your business needs is a rational and thoughtful process, but it can feel overwhelming. If you’ve read through this article and you’re thinking it would be nice if there was an easy way to navigate through this process, look no further.
Lightyear takes the guesswork out of the UCaaS procurement process and helps you get through it with ease. Head over to Lightyear.ai and let the Lightyear platform work its magic.
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