Five Questions to Ask When Moving Your Communication Stack Off Premises
The cloud is here, and for small- and mid-sized businesses (SMBs), transitioning to a cloud-based communication infrastructure is a question of “when ” not “if.” According to Deloitte’s analysis, Small Business, Big Technology: How the Cloud Enables Rapid Growth in SMBs, nearly 70% of SMBs will be increasing their cloud technology investments over the next three years.
However, one of the biggest hang-ups to investing in cloud and unified communications for SMBs is how long and complicated the process is perceived to be. In this article, we will help you boil down any complexities of the process because yes, moving to the cloud is a major investment – but it’s one you can make on your terms and at a pace that’s most comfortable for you.
If you’re in the early stages of your cloud migration, here are five questions to address that will help you simplify the process and make smarter decisions.
1. What are you going to do with your existing hardware?
“Where do I move all of my servers and storage units?” “Do I need to purchase an entirely new phone system?” “How will hardware replacements affect my network?” These are all common questions that many business leaders encounter when they launch their cloud transitions and they all have one simple answer: relax.
The most important thing to remember about shifting communication infrastructure to the cloud is that you are in control. The transition isn’t all or nothing, nor is it a process that is going to automatically get out of your control. In terms of what to do with your existing hardware, take it step by step and address each piece of equipment individually. The right vendor should be able to guide you as you make your decisions.
2. How will you manage your data usage?
One of the benefits of shifting to a cloud-based solution like unified communications is that you only have to pay for what you use. This allows you to evolve any fixed contracts for your phone systems, storage, email and other collaboration tools into month-to-month contracts in the cloud where you will only pay for the number of licenses and the amount of data your people need. This flexibility also ensures your communication suite scales with your business, enabling you to simply turn up new licenses when you need them.
3. How mobile are your people?
Before shifting to the cloud, it’s important for you to consider the degree of mobility and anywhere-access to applications your people will need. If you have employees spread out across the U.S. or you employ a work-from-home policy, you’ll likely want to bring up the topic of mobility to your vendor to ensure you invest in a solution that meets your needs. The more fixed your communication infrastructure is to your office, the less mobile your organization will be.
4. What are you able to spend?
Take a hard look at what you’re paying to manage your communication technology now. Factor in both the fixed costs of your hardware as well as the ongoing maintenance and service costs of keeping it running. Be sure to tap an objective, third-party resource if you’re looking for a no-nonsense analysis of your fees.
Once you have your baseline of what you’re paying now, compare it to the costs of moving to the cloud, including the price of your licenses and savings through efficiency gains and lack of ongoing maintenance. This exercise helps you paint a comprehensive financial picture of your cloud investment before you actually pull the trigger.
5. What are the capabilities of your IT resources?
Consider your IT staff and resources. Do you have a dedicated IT specialist? Do you have any other pressing projects in motion? It’s important to understand what internal capabilities you have to support your cloud transition and where you may need extra hands. The great thing about a solution like unified communications is it’s fairly hands-off technology. Outside of your monthly fee for the product, you shouldn’t have to allocate much budget in terms of maintenance or support — essentially, you’ll get T1 or T2 support without taxing your internal staff.
Ready to Take the Next Step?
These questions give you a starting point for your cloud transition. Answering them is key, but it’s certainly not the be-all, end-all of your project.
If answering these questions led to more questions, great — that means you’re being thorough and diligent about entering your cloud transition. If you’d like a knowledgeable, objective resource to be a sounding board for your questions or you’d like additional insight into the cloud migration process as a whole, we’re here to help.