13 Dec Your Guide to Implementing a New UCaaS Solution
The demand for Unified Communications as a service or “UCaaS” solutions is greater than ever. By 2028, Fortune Business Insights predicts the market will be worth a whopping $70 billion, compared to only $29 billion in 2021. While there are many potential reasons for the rapid growth of the industry, most believe much of the demand for UC in the cloud is a result of the pandemic.
With teams now working more frequently from distributed locations, and hybrid work on the rise, companies need a more flexible way to enable the workforce. UCaaS is the solution that most business leaders are looking for. With UCaaS, companies have access to a more aligned environment where teams can maintain productivity and enable excellent communications no matter where they are. Even better, IT leaders have an all-in-one environment where they can track interactions.
Unfortunately, even with the rising demand for UCaaS, many companies still don’t have the right strategy in place to enable a quick, efficient, and streamlined transition to the cloud.
Implementing UCaaS: Finding Your Why
The first step to any successful technology investment is finding the reason for your investment. You need to know why it’s so important to invest in UCaaS so that you can share the values with stakeholders, team members, and business leaders.
As we mentioned above, demand for UCaaS is rapidly increasing as companies search for more flexible ways of maintaining communication. An effective Unified Communications as a Service ecosystem provides business leaders with a cost-effective and reliable way to upgrade their communication stack, without the extra expense or confusion.
UCaaS aligns all the communication technology companies need to run effectively, from VoIP calling, to video interactions and collaboration tools. UCaaS delivers benefits like:
- Streamlined technology management: Having all of your communications software solutions aligned in one easy-to-manage cloud environment takes a lot of pressure on the IT team. Companies can quickly and easily provision new communication and collaboration tools to employees, regardless of where they’re located. Teams can patch security issues in seconds, and even change the level of access each employee has to a system remotely.
- Scalable functionality: A UC solution offers a flexible way for companies to access all the technology they need in one location, from messaging, phone communications, and conferencing. With your technology in the cloud, you can add new functionality and evolve your tech stack at the touch of a button. It’s much easier to transform your company to suit the changing needs of your marketplace.
- Improved productivity: With UCaaS, employees can access a consistent experience with their communication tools across multiple devices, in various locations. This opens the door for faster, more efficient, and more productive staff. Your employees can also spend less time moving between applications, because everything they need is located in the same place.
- Future-proofing: Technology in the cloud also means if anything goes wrong with your physical business location, your team members can still access to the tools they need to be productive. As we learned during the pandemic, access to continued functionality in a crisis is a must-have.
- Improved business insights: With access to an aligned environment for tracking communications in the workplace, it’s much easier to get deeper insights into what’s actually happening in your business. You can view the entire technology stack and glean useful insights into what makes your business successful.
Based on the various benefits UCaaS can offer, decide what you want to achieve in advance, and how you’re going to measure your progress towards these specific goals. For instance, if you want to improve productivity in your team, you can keep track of metrics related to employee output.
Planning Your UCaaS Strategy
The goals you choose for your UCaaS investment should help you to form a basic idea of the kind of tools and functionality you’re going to need from your UCaaS platform. Start by asking yourself what kind of deployment you’re going to be looking at.
Do you want to go fully into the cloud or choose a hybrid strategy? With full cloud migration, you’ll have more flexibility to support remote workers and teams. However, you may have to deal with the stress of building a new tech stack from scratch. With a hybrid system, you can leverage the technology you already have on-premises and combine that with cloud-based solutions.
Since the majority of the workforce is looking for a hybrid workplace in the years ahead, where they can distribute their time between the office and home, it might be worth starting with a hybrid plan, then gradually transitioning fully into the cloud.
Once you know whether you’re going hybrid, or full cloud:
- Test the readiness of your networks: Making sure you have the right bandwidth and systems in place to suit your required communications stack is crucial. If you’re going to be having most of your employees working from home, you might want to look into things like secure VPN connections too. If you have multiple locations you need to connect, you can look into technology like SD-WAN.
- Define any specific business needs: For many companies, an off-the-shelf UCaaS solution isn’t enough anymore. If you have special requirements when it comes to things like security, global accessibility, or compliance, you might need to keep this in mind when choosing a UCaaS deployment. Looking for a vendor that prioritizes flexibility and customization is often a good idea. Access to open platforms with API extensions and integrations will give you more flexibility.
- Consider your existing technology portfolio: If, like many of the companies making the transition to UCaaS today, you don’t want to simply rip and replace your existing technology, you’ll need to look for integrations. Many of the top UCaaS solutions on the market today do offer a lot of integration options. You can even build your UCaaS environment on the existing productivity tools your teams are using, like Microsoft Teams, or integrate your UCaaS system with your contact center technology.
Bring multiple members of your team together during this initial planning stage to ensure you’re considering all the potential risks and opportunities you need to be aware of before you begin looking for the UCaaS platform that’s right for you.
Finding Your UCaaS Partner
With a decent understanding of what your UCaaS strategy is going to entail, it’s time to begin looking into UCaaS vendors. There’s no shortage of solutions on the market, which is one of the reasons why it can be so difficult to make the right decision. If you’re having trouble, the guidance we offer here at UC Advisor can give you some objective insights into which UCaaS tools might be right for you.
In general, it’s worth starting your search by thinking about the functionality you’re going to need both now and in the future for your UCaaS solutions. Do you have any specific requirements when it comes to data sovereignty, and where the centers responsible for managing your communication data are located? What kind of demands do you have for things like collaboration tools, and video conferencing, or mobile access for your field workers?
Some of the most important things to consider when choosing a vendor are:
- User experience: How simple is it going to be for your team members to use this new technology? Can you ensure all employees are getting the same, consistent experience, no matter which device they’re using? Does the technology offered have mobile apps for field workers, and tools to enable hybrid work? The easier the technology is to embrace, the more likely it is you’ll see rapid adoption.
- Innovation: When choosing a vendor, it’s important to ensure you understand the technical needs you have both now and in the future. For instance, while you might not need access to things like AI, IoT, and 5G now, those solutions could become crucial in the future. Having access to a vendor who can offer next-level communication tools when you need them is crucial. Look for companies with a strong investment in R&D.
- Security: A good UCaaS partner should be able to protect your system from any security issues. This means offering a high level of encryption for communication data at rest and in transit. It also means giving business leaders complete control over access to certain tools for individual users. You might even want to consider choosing a vendor with a strong investment in AI to reduce threats.
- Reliability: Most UCaaS companies offer guaranteed uptime agreements and other reassurances to help give you more peace of mind in your technology. An uptime of 99.999 is one of the best you can get. Explore the UCaaS technology you’ll be getting, and which failover systems and redundancies are in place to protect you if anything goes wrong.
- Scalability: One of the best things about accessing UC in the cloud is the ability to scale your system however you choose. Make sure your UCaaS provider can add or remove communication capacity and tools depending on your needs.
Remember, the right vendor will adapt to suit you, providing the additional specialist services and support required to make your UCaaS implementation a success. If you feel you need extra help to ensure the success of your UCaaS strategy, look for a vendor capable of offering implementation, and training services too.
Introducing Your Technology
Finally, the last step is actually introducing your technology to your employees. There’s no one-size-fits-all strategy for doing this correctly, but many business leaders do find they get better results with a fully-planned implementation schedule. Here’s a good template to get you started:
- Step 1: Access training tools and learning environments required to ensure complete understanding of your new UCaaS solution. Make sure the training tools consider the needs of all your employees, including your remote workers and contractors.
- Step 2: Choose a team of “first adopters” from multiple places in the business, including the marketing team, engineering team, and anyone else who might be using the UCaaS environment in the future. The people you choose should be comfortable with the idea of embracing new technology, and digitally savvy, so they’re not too disrupted by the process of learning how to use a new system.
- Step 3: Provide the training to your team of “early adopters” and give them access to your new technology, so they can put the UCaaS features to the test. During this “testing and learning” phase, collect as much feedback as possible from your staff. Pay attention to any difficulties your people have with the tech, and any common issues faced.
- Step 4: Update your training tools and technology with the feedback from your early adopters and choose your next lot of “initial adopters”. These are the people who might not be as comfortable with technology as your early adopters, but still feel relatively comfortable with the idea of change.
- Step 5: Give your initial adopters access to the new training and the UCaaS tools, paying attention to any feedback they provide. Use your early adopters in this stage as mentors for other members of staff who need additional help.
- Step 6: Using the feedback collected from your wider initial adoption team, upgrade your training strategy again, then roll it out to the remaining members of staff who need to use the UCaaS technology. Use your early and initial adopters where possible to offer guidance to other team members who need extra help.
During this roll-out process, pay close attention to your team members, and make sure additional support is on-hand to assist with any issues that staff may have. This is also an important time to pick up on any concerns your staff has about the technology, or any additional technology they might want to implement into the UCaaS environment going forward.
As well as gathering qualitative feedback from your team, you can also use metrics gathered within your UCaaS system about time spent on calls and engagement in collaboration tools to track how positive the adoption levels are.
Ready to Implement your New UCaaS Solution?
Introducing something new to your team is always a complex process. A transition as significant as making the move to UCaaS can feel daunting, but with the right strategy, you can accomplish your goals in no time.
Follow the tips above to roll out your UCaaS technology, and don’t be afraid to make changes to your ecosystem as your business evolves. The flexibility of the UCaaS environment makes this process easy! Don’t forget to reach out to UC Advisor for help choosing the ultimate UCaaS partner too!