Is your organization ready for a major change? That may be the biggest question you need to ask when you are seriously considering a unified communications deployment. UC changes the way you do business and communicate, and few if any organizations can just snap their fingers and create a UC nirvana, much as they’d like to.
Think back to the introduction of e-mail, which really wasn’t all that long ago. Where you used to handwrite notes or dictate or type memos, and call people whenever you needed to ask a question, suddenly a whole new communications environment descended on the enterprise. Not everybody in the typical company – including top executives – embraced that change. We all have heard stories about VPs who had their administrative assistants print out all their e-mails every morning, and handle the replies for them. A few holdouts probably still do that today.
So it won’t be much different when the new environment is UC. Even though migration to UC is pretty much inevitable for organizations, it is their readiness that will help determine the timetable. And an accurate analysis of that readiness will determine the success of the deployment.
There are several key steps that an organization should take to determine if they’re ready for such a change. They are:
1. Evaluating the potential cost savings – both in reducing the number of local trunks needed (thanks to SIP trunking) and the gains from an international calling plan – and determining where else in the organization those dollars can be put to work.
2. Assessing whether your users’ assets (laptops, for instance) are ready for the change, with the ability to handle VoIP and the various collaboration and communications tools of UC.
3. Determining the willingness of users to make UC work. Resistance can take many forms, and unless your resistance is confined to a few pockets where it doesn’t matter much, it could sabotage your deployment.
4. Planning the deployment. How phased and extensive is the rollout – do you start with the high-cost locations, central sites, or remote or satellite sites? Do you have the staff to handle this deployment, or will you work with a third party?
5. Handling 911 calls. There is a huge conflict between the UC world, where the location of your workplace truly doesn’t matter, and the emergency world, where rescuers need to know where you are if they’re going to help. We’re going to address this in more detail in a future post.
So often, UC is approached from the technical perspective, focusing on the applications, the communications links, and the enabling technologies. That’s understandable with a technology-centric solution. But when it comes to deployment, the issues become organizational, and need to be addressed from a much higher vantage point.