Many businesses buy a new phone system because they have been worn down over a period of time by poor, but repetitive arguments. Salespeople from different phone companies have warned them that their system is obsolete. Phone technicians tell them about the scarcity of parts and that they may not be able to support the system any longer. After hearing this refrain over and over, it starts to sound like the truth. Is it? Should a new phone system be purchased?
From the salesperson's perspective, the answer is a resounding yes. They get paid to sell systems, not to talk to customers about keeping the old one going. Technicians don't want to work on old systems. They may not have worked at their company long enough to have been trained on it. Perhaps they want to explore the more interesting, challenging features of a newer system. They may also want you to buy a new system to help their company thrive economically. In any case, there is nothing in these outlooks that you should share.
Your take on this should examine the features you want or need that aren't available on your current system, the availability of replacement parts, the prospect of being able to get continued service for your system and your budget.
What features do you need that you can't do on your current system? We're not talking about want, just needs. We're certainly not talking about whatever the current buzzwords are either. The rage for VOIP (Voice Over IP) is what phone system salespeople are touting today. I would wager that far less than one company in 100 has a real application for it. VOIP is not likely to save much money on phone calls for almost all companies and may be a technical nightmare to install. Unless you have mobile employees that need to have constant, integrated connectivity to the phone system, VOIP is unlikely to be a feature that should make you get a new system.
If your firm lacks voicemail on your current system, you have an application that could justify system replacement (you may be able to add it to your current equipment). If you are going to expand beyond the current capacity of your system, this is another good reason to enter the market. If you are about to move, the cost of cabling the new facility (a major phone system expense) is one you would have even if you reinstalled the system. This makes it a good time to look at a new product. If there are any other features you have to have, then go ahead and get some proposals.
Otherwise, there oughtn't to be much to worry about. You can find refurbished equipment from many suppliers for virtually any system, even if the system went out of manufacture 15 years ago. This equipment is often of high quality and usually comes with a year warranty. You may be very pleased with the pricing as well.
As far as getting service, this is an issue you should be proactive about. Make sure you have copies of user guides as well as a programming and installation manual. Find out if there are other companies in your area that service your system. You may even wish to have phone numbers for individual technicians to contact them on the side, should your vendor ever say that they won't work on your gear any longer.
Get the most out of your phone system for as long as it makes sense for your company to keep it.
Owner of Applied Voice and Data, a broker of refurbished and new business phone system equipment from many manufacturers. Bob's eighteen years in the phone industry are mostly on the sales side. By visiting with customers in person and on the phone for so long, he has acquired a knack for honing in on what a customer really needs to make real world applications work.