Is a Hybrid PBX Solution Right for Your Business?

Many businesses that want to cut telecommunications costs, to enhance collaboration among teams, and to stay current in their industry make the decision to switch to a hosted Private Branch Exchange (PBX) solution from a legacy PBX system. Hosted PBX options have effectively allowed many enterprises to achieve more efficiency and more productivity in the workplace. But despite the many proven benefits of a hosted PBX, some companies hesitate to make the switch – especially if they’ve recently made upgrades to their current PBX.

The good news is you can still enjoy the features and benefits of hosted PBX without completely replacing your current PBX system. And it can easily be done by taking a hybrid approach.

What is a hybrid PBX?

A hybrid PBX system is the perfect solution for companies that aren’t ready to undergo a complete transition yet but are interested in what a hosted PBX has to offer. It combines existing legacy PBX equipment with the cloud technology aspects of a hosted service. This, in turn, allows businesses to enjoy the best of both worlds.

Benefits of a hybrid PBX system

Although a hybrid PBX may not possess all of the features available with a hosted service, it can still deliver many of the basic functionalities of a hosted PBX that are highly beneficial to businesses. Below are some of the reasons why you might want to start with a hybrid PBX model for your business:

  • Get an added layer of reliability with your communications system. If your Internet service or hosted PBX solution isn’t working, you can automatically switch your calls over to a line that is connected to your on-premise PBX (or vice versa). This means you can avoid any potential downtime, missed opportunities, or lost revenue.
  • Save on costs. A hybrid solution doesn’t require businesses to throw away their existing equipment and buy new IP phones. Some suppliers of traditional PBX hardware now offer add-on boards or gateways that make it possible to transform traditional PBX systems into a hybrid PBX, helping users transition with ease. Specifically, an Analog Telephone Adapter (ATA) can be used to connect one’s existing phones to the IP network. This device translates analog voice signals into digital data so that calls can be transmitted over the internet, and is often used in BYOD circumstances.
  • Maintain control. Businesses that want to maintain control over various aspects of their communication solution, such as call security, connectivity options, and automatic default failovers can benefit from maintaining a hybrid PBX system. This is because businesses will still house their PBX hardware on-site while leaving tasks such as configuration backups and software updates to their service provider. One company that offers a unique hybrid PBX approach is Fonality. Fonality caters to businesses that want to make a gradual transition to hosted PBX.

So, should you choose a hybrid solution?

In the end, it all boils down to the unique needs and preferences of your business. If you want to reap the full benefits of a hosted PBX system, then it’s time to make the complete switch. However, if you aren’t ready to let go of your on-premise PBX system but also want access to the innovative features of a hosted PBX solution, then choosing a hybrid PBX system is an ideal solution.

How to Overcome Common Hosted PBX Problems

Switching to a hosted Private Branch Exchange (PBX) solution from a legacy PBX is one of the best ways for businesses to cut costs, enhance customer service, and streamline communications. Because most of the responsibility is shouldered by the service provider (including maintenance and upgrades to the equipment and platform), a hosted PBX enables you to focus your attention on more important matters like managing operations and improving your bottom line.

However, it’s still possible to encounter some issues as you make the transition towards hosted PBX. But fortunately, these issues can easily be resolved thorugh careful planning and foresight. Below are a number of common issues you might face with a hosted PBX and some tips on how to overcome them.

Connectivity and call issues

Problem: Are you experiencing dropped calls or are hearing echoes on the phone? Does the audio quality vary between different times of day? Are you unable to complete a call? These are some minor problems that customers may face.

But truth be told, there are various factors that can affect call quality. However, most call quality and connectivity issues are often due to your existing internet connection. With a hosted PBX, all call data is transferred over the internet in packets. So it’s vital that you ensure you are subscribed to the right internet plan with the proper level of bandwidth to handle your call volume.

Solution: To correct the issue, conduct an internet speed test to see how efficient your internet connection is. If the results are satisfactory, talk to your hosted PBX service provider to help you investigate the issue. If the results are poor, however, then contact your internet service provider as the issue is likely with them. They might be able to suggest the best plan that meets your current usage. You should also ensure that your router is up to date and that there are no loose wires between your connections.

Old hardware and phones

Problem: Another headache businesses face when moving to hosted PBX is the stock of old routers, legacy phones, and other hardware they now have to dispose of. Using outdated and incompatible equipment can make the transition more painful as compatibility issues may arise. Plus, upgrading to new equipment may not be an option due to the costs involved.

Solution: The great thing about hosted PBX solutions is that they do not require users to invest in new phone equipment or other hardware. It helps businesses save on IT costs since they can use their desktop, laptop, or any mobile device (through mobile apps) to access their new phone system instead of buying new IP phones. And most providers also offer BYOD options to help subsidize costs.

Tech-averse staff

Problem: Is your staff not as excited as you are about your transition to a hosted PBX? It is natural for employees to resist change, especially if they have been using and are accustomed to a traditional phone system. They may fear that the new PBX is difficult to operate and that it may affect them and their work. But while it may take some time for them to adjust to the new system, there’s nothing to fear.

Solution: You can quickly overcome resistance from employees by keeping your staff on board from the beginning. Talk to them about the upcoming changes and make sure their concerns are addressed. Most hosted PBX providers also offer training and helpful online resources. This will help your team familiarize themselves with your new hosted PBX solution and be more confident in using the system. You can also implement Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) to keep the learning curve low and to help your employees be more comfortable.

Be sure to keep these tips in mind if you are thinking about or are in the process of making the change over to a hosted PBX solution!

PBX Showdown: Choosing Between Hosted and On Premise IP PBX Systems

Business communication tools have come and gone, but the one that has endured the changing times is the telephone system. In larger organizations, phone systems (specifically the PBX or private branch exchange) play a crucial role in ensuring smooth and efficient business communications. But as phone technologies evolve, companies must also adapt in order to stay competitive.

One key decision companies face today is whether or not to upgrade their traditional PBX system to a hosted or an on-premise IP PBX system. Moving to an IP PBX system offers numerous benefits (regardless of which type is chosen). But in order to tap the full potential of the phone system and ensure the complete satisfaction of users, it pays to learn more about each type, as well as examine its strengths and weaknesses.

Hosted IP PBX
Hosted IP PBX refers to the service where the call platform (as well as the PBX features and capabilities) are hosted and delivered by a third-party service provider. A hosted PBX system frees companies from the hassle and expenses of investing in and maintaining onsite equipment. The service provider maintains the equipment, hosts the software, and makes the upgrades. A company and its employees simply use the phone system as usual, and can see their changes in real-time.

On Premise IP PBX
As the name implies, with an on-premise IP PBX system, all components of the system are located on site. The business shoulders the cost of the equipment as well as the maintenance and upkeep. This type of PBX is a common choice for larger enterprises who have robust PBX needs and employed IT personnel responsible for the monitoring, maintenance, and upgrades of the system.

There are various factors that will drive a company to choose between a hosted and on-premise IP PBX system. These factors include:

  • Cost

Hosted PBX offers lower upfront costs, which is highly attractive for new businesses or those that are strapped for cash. You only need to pay a flat subscription rate, which covers the equipment, IT support, and maintenance costs.

An on-premise PBX system requires a higher startup cost since you’ll have to purchase the phone equipment yourself. And while you won’t have to deal with monthly service fees, there are hardware expenses and ongoing operational and maintenance fees that you have to take into account.

  • Scalability

Another thing to consider is scalability, or the ability to scale up (or down) depending on your business’ demands. With a hosted PBX, it’s easy to add or remove lines and features without experiencing disruption in one’s service; however, do be aware that adding users will increase your monthly costs. Adding and subtracting users can usually be done through a self-service web portal, which is offered by the provider. With a hosted PBX, it does not require an on-site visit by a technician. As long as you aren’t locked into a contract that limits or penalizes you adding or subtracting users, then you’re all set.

On the other hand, with on-premise PBX businesses must buy the equipment based on the projected or estimated number of users. If the number of users or employees grows beyond the scale of your phone system, you will have to invest in more capacity (or if it decreases, you may have no choice but to eat the cost).

  • Mobility

For companies that employ remote workers or road warriors, a hosted PBX solution is a great option because you can access your business phone system and all its features from any device as long as you have an internet connection.

But an on-premise system can be limiting because it only supports wired phones in a physical office.

  • Control

Also consider the level of management and control you desire. Businesses that opt for a hosted PBX solution often choose the system because they want to focus on their core business–and they can’t do this if they spend significant time and resources on making sure their phone system is up and running. By outsourcing tech and upkeep responsibilities (such as managing their phone system), organizations can better attend to profit-boosting activities.

Meanwhile, an on-premise PBX solution enables businesses to control every technical and operational detail of their phone system. Because they have a clear understanding of their business’ requirements and capacities, they are able to develop a phone system that perfectly suits their needs. The catch is you need to have skilled and qualified staff to exercise that control.

The Bottom Line
Each system has its strengths and weaknesses, so ultimately the choice boils down to the priorities and preferences of your business. A hosted PBX is a suitable choice for organizations that value mobility and cost-efficiency. An on-premise system, meanwhile, is more ideal for companies that have the capacity to update and maintain the system, and seek greater control over it.