As a business grows, providing affordable and seamless communication for employees becomes a priority. While on-premise PBX systems have been the mainstay for years, businesses now have the option of turning to hosted or cloud-based solutions, writes Henda Edwardes, executive head of communication solutions at Vox.
However, when selecting a solution, it is vital for businesses to critically assess their communications requirements – present and future – and find a solution that matches these.
Hosted PBX solutions
Hosted PBX solutions work for small and medium enterprises (SMEs and although they can support up to 100 users, the ideal usage is between 20 and 30 extensions.
A major benefit is that there is no large initial capital expenditure for on-site equipment. Instead, a monthly subscription is paid based on the number of extensions needed. It is also easily scalable – a business can add and remove extensions as required, and only pay for what they use.
In addition, with a hosted solution, businesses no longer need to worry about managing and maintaining on-site equipment, or even redundancy – everything is in the cloud and can be easily restored in case of a system failure.
Hosted solutions can also help SMEs with multiple sites to simplify their communications by integrating all branches into a single platform, and enable enterprise mobility through easier Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) integration. They can also use softphone applications to forward business calls directly to employees’ mobile devices.
While these benefits are significant, the user experience of hosted PBX systems is highly dependent on the quality of connectivity and local area network (LAN) infrastructure. Businesses need to reserve a portion of bandwidth for voice services and ensure equipment such as switches are capable of handling multiple voice calls concurrently.
Features offered by hosted PBX solutions are however limited when compared to on-site alternatives and might not meet a business’s requirements.
On-site PBX solutions
On-site PBX systems, of which there are proprietary and open-source options available, are ideal for bigger companies that prefer system administration and maintenance to remain within their control. These companies will often require advanced features such as, contact centre, voice logging or recording, and need to provide line extensions to a sizable workforce.
They usually have the budget, and thus opt for a single upfront capital expenditure rather than taking on a recurring cost. In addition, Vox offers such systems as part of a managed service, so businesses don’t incur costs for technology upgrades for the duration of their contract.
One of the biggest drawbacks to an on-site system is that businesses need the appropriate resources to manage and maintain the PBX system, and to ensure the company is adequately equipped for disaster recovery.
Furthermore, proprietary systems need to be installed by engineers who are certified by the equipment manufacturer and given that we have a national footprint, Vox is able to easily and efficiently install and support systems for customers with nationwide branches.
As local businesses come to accept the benefits of the cloud, they are becoming more open to using hosted PBX – usually the most cost-effective option for SMEs. However, as a business scales and requires more extensions and features, switching to an on-site PBX could be more economically feasible. As such, they need to carefully monitor costs and identify where this tipping point lies.
For larger enterprises requiring a feature-rich solution that can cater for hundreds – or even thousands – of employees, on-site PBX still has a place. These customers have both the budget and internal skills to manage and maintain on-site equipment, which makes it the best fit for their business.