IP telephony: it’s all about the people and the planning

Be prepared, says Telecom manager

Simon Nicholson, product development manager of transition services at Telecom, gives some practical recommendations to make the move to IP communications as successful as possible for companies.

“Planning is everything,” he says.

First, organisations will benefit from treating an IP communications migration like a business change and IT project, he says.

“The migration involves more than just a phone upgrade,” he says.

He stresses the importance of people change management. If the people don’t buy into IP telephony, it’s not likely to be a success.

Nicholson recommends establishing the support infrastructure early, for example making sure that the support agreement with the IP communications vendor meets the needs of the organisation. Organisations should also make sure that support processes are in place, as well as support training of the staff.

Planning ahead is a key factor for successful migration, he says.

“Establish the underlying infrastructure to support IP communications well in advance,” he says.

This includes environmental and power infrastructure, and things like cabling and rack space.

He also recommends performing site surveys as part of the planning process.

“And allow [enough] time for integration testing,” he says.

When it comes to choosing the implementation partner, choose carefully, he says.

“Take into consideration [if your partner] understands your business problem, and have a look at their implementation process, their tools and templates,” he says.

Start the roll-out slowly and treat the first site as a pilot, he advises.

“[A pilot] gives you the opportunity to validate the set up and roll out processes, and to uncover issues early,” he says.

For best results, choose a user group that has the time and willingness to participate, and that can communicate easily with the implementation team, he says.

Nicholson recommends using proven methodology with standardised roll-out processes.

In addition, organisations should not forget to consider how a potential migration would impact on internal resources, both at the implementation stage and after the implementation, when additional support might be needed for managing the new and legacy telephone systems.

Nicholson spoke at IDC’s IP voice conference in Auckland in July.

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