Unmask Hidden Phone System Costs with These Must Ask Questions

In your search for a new phone system, you may hear conflicting information about costs and return on investment of premises-based PBX systems vs. cloud-based systems.  The following questions can serve as a guide during your search for a new phone system to ensure you get the full picture of all associated costs.

Have you sized this system for my peak demand?

On-premises PBX systems can’t cope with peaks and troughs in demand, requiring instead that you buy capacity for the peak utilization.  With hosted, cloud-based systems, you pay for the peaks as they occur.

Have you factored in the cost of site redundancy?

With premises-based systems, adding site redundancy will add the cost of at least an extra system to your costs, compared to systems hosted in the cloud, where service is always available on multiple devices.

How old is this product and will there be upgrades?

The average lifespan of a premises-based system is approximately seven years, mainly because the hardware becomes obsolete in that time. You may also discover that  features your business relies on are no longer being upgraded, leaving you with a system that cannot meet your future business needs. Cloud, on the other hand, is an evergreen platform that continually adds new features to regularly improve your employee productivity.

How is mobility supported on this system?

Mobile integration with premises-based systems is often cumbersome and incurs additional call charges on the PBX trunks, with calls being hair pinned in and out of the system. Cloud systems provide seamless integration between desktop and mobile devices.

How many hours of call recording have you quoted me? What is the maximum I can buy?

On-premises systems rely on servers that have a finite disk capacity for features such as call recording. When you run out of space, you cannot record any more calls, which is a problem if you have a regulated requirement that necessitates calls are to be recorded.  With hosted, the recording capacity is delivered via cloud storage, eliminating any concerns about on-premises storage capacity.

What are the fraud risks?

Smaller PBX systems, in particular, are prone to fraud attacks that can leave huge bills to be paid by the victim. With cloud, your phone system is protected in a highly secure telco network.  Comparisons can be drawn to keeping your money under the mattress vs putting it in the bank.

What are the annual maintenance costs of the hardware and software in this system?

With PBX systems, you need to factor in maintenance costs of on-premises server hardware. There are no direct maintenance costs, however, with cloud-based systems as all the hardware is located in the telco data center.

Does your system integrate with my CRM?

Integration with CRM is the most common requirement of a phone system.  With on-premises systems, it typically costs extra and requires a system integrator to perform what can be a complex task. With cloud-based systems, the integration is already done and can be switched on at a moment’s notice.

What happens if the system slows down due to switching on extra features?

The more features you switch on in a premises-based system, the more likely it is that your system will require an upgrade to the processor board, rarely factored in at the time of purchase, and which could cost you thousands of dollars. With cloud, you have virtually limitless amounts of processor capacity available in the telco cloud, so performance never changes.

What are the expectations for resources to manage the system?

On-premises systems require management that can be quite costly; costs rise even more if the system is integrated with other applications/IT services. Outsourced management to a third party will incur charges for a minimum number of service calls per year regardless of use.  With cloud systems, all your management is performed simply via web interfaces.  And, all remote sites can be easily managed from a central location without a large number of field personnel.