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What to Look for when Choosing Virtual PBX Hardware
For most things that are ‘virtual’ there first needs to be something that is ‘tangible’ to initiate it. This is certainly the case for online activities because you cannot go online without a device that enables you to connect to the Internet. One day, we will be able to do this without any equipment or apparatus but, for now, we need to use something to gain access, be it a computer, games console, mobile phone, or tablet. The same goes for virtual Private Branch Exchange (PBX); we want the service it provides but we need the hardware in order to take advantage of the service.
At one time, PBX was used by businesses internally to enable in-house colleagues to communicate with each other. Technology has advanced to such a degree that it is now used to connect more than just callers; today it enables communication across a wide range of equipment that includes computers, fax machines, and mobile devices. One of the greatest advantages is that it helps to create a professional corporate appearance for businesses of all sizes, from the smallest to the largest.
Choosing the right PBX hardware needs care and consideration. You will want a good system that represents value for money, so the first thing to do is to define your needs, and the second, to decide on the amount of money you want to spend.
Hardware is a general term that covers the physical elements of a system; with PBX that means the actual telephone, and the peripherals that go with it, such as headsets, headphones, and so on. When purchasing hardware, it is important to choose something that is robust enough to stand up to the wear and tear that will be expected of it. In the case of the telephone, it will need to be manufactured from materials and components sturdy enough to withstand the odd knock, say, or being dropped onto a hard surface, but normal use will be much more gentle so good quality lightweight materials will be sufficient. Headsets and headphones will need to be a little more durable because they have more movable parts and may not always be handled with care.
Considerations when Choosing Hardware
There are a number of things to consider when choosing your PBX hardware:
This will probably be your number one consideration especially if you operate a small business that needs to keep its purchasing and running costs to a minimum. Look at both ends of the market; this will help you to explore the features that are offered and to determine which ones will best fit your requirements.
Whichever system you choose, you will want it to ‘earn its keep’, to get on with the job for which you have purchased it, and not to eat into your profits with high maintenance costs or poor quality parts that need to be replaced frequently.
Your market research will identify the various features that are available and will help to influence the choice you make. You may find that a simple system provides all the features you need if your requirements are uncomplicated; alternatively, if they are extensive, a system that provides a comprehensive range will be more suitable. Take care that you are not tempted to spend money unnecessarily by purchasing something with features that you do not think you will find useful.
Number of Users
The expected number of users will be an important consideration. For a one-man business, one point of communication may be all that is needed but, for a business with a number of users, including those that work away from the office, more will be needed. Each user will need to be provided for, so that business is not lost or adversely affected by an inadequate communication system.
Skills and Training
Training employees to use PBX is relatively simple; if an employee is able to answer and transfer calls proficiently, they will be able to use the additional features that are provided with PBX with little extra coaching. Equipment will be accompanied by instruction manuals and online guidance will also be available.
Most manufacturers today pride themselves on producing reliable hardware because reputations are so easily lost due the speed and reach of the Internet. Some business owners may find it useful to test and monitor their system occasionally to make sure that it is operating as it should. Most retailers will offer insurance to cover ongoing repairs once the hardware has exhausted its statutory warranty period.
Good quality hardware will need little maintenance providing it is handled correctly.
Some business operators will be more than happy with the first PBX hardware they purchase, and see no need to change. Others, however, will find that as their business grows so do their PBX requirements, so they will look for additional features that would enhance their communication system. PBX hardware that allows for such expansion will enable essential extras to be added.
Not many businesses exist today that can be operated efficiently and profitably via one office-based telephone. Your business might not need every single feature that virtual PBX makes available, but having even a basic system in place will enhance your corporate image, and make communicating with employees, suppliers, and customers simple yet cost effective.