How to Maximize Your Unified Communications Return on Investment
I preach all of the time that I believe a well-executed Unified Communications strategy can significantly transform a business. Effective communications and collaboration can increase an organization’s velocity, trim inefficiencies and drive accuracy. A poorly implemented UC solution is simply expensive and frustrating.
The simple truth is that if you’re unwilling to use UC technologies fully, invest the time to be effective with the features, and plan for the transformation across your co-workers, you’re probably not going to get the ROI that’s been promised.
Like any other transformative technology, there are some steps you can take that will help maximize your ROI.
1. Define your Expectations – figure out how you communicate and document what tools, applications and method you’re using. This is critical when developing your “use case” scenarios. Knowing what you need (or what you’re hoping for) is critical in the planning stage.
2. Identify your ROI Model – determining your ROI is all about quantifying the results. What are your old costs and revenues based on your “old way” of communication? Next, figure out what’s going to be impacted when you shift to a UC strategy. Is video conferencing going to save on travel? Do old tools or systems go away? Identifying each impact will plug into your ROI model.
3. Organize Your Workforce – Within IT, UC will consolidate networks, servers, storage, etc. This is going to realign both your equipment and your teams. Organizations with separate telecommunications or video conferencing resources can most likely be consolidated. Your UC design team should address all of the involved areas.
4. Clean Up Your House – Your network may need to be updated to handle UC. A poor network foundation unable to handle to demands of a UC environment will leave your users in the cold. Invest the time and resources up front to be ready. Rolling out UC on an antiquated network will spell disaster.
5. Don’t Think Bandwidth Will Fix Everything – It’s the quality of your network, not your network bandwidth, that will spell success. We see businesses all the time that think a bigger pipe will solve their problems. Network performance is addressed at the core. Failing to address quality will only hide your problems and are devilishly complex to fix after a UC deployment is completed.
6. Test Before you Go Live – take the time to map out the logical and physical paths that your UC traffic will follow. Make sure those pathways can handle the increase load and still deliver the quality of service you expect. Many UC deployments have gone awry because no one took the time to test the architecture. A good test plan will allow you to tune prior to “go live”. Remember, your users aren’t going to tolerate much tweaking and tuning, so get it right before they see it.