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From Legacy PBX to UCaaS:
The 6 Step Roadmap for a Smooth Migration

CHAPTERS

    The Risks of Waiting

    If you are considering migrating from a legacy Private Branch Exchange (PBX) phone system to Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS), the timing is now better than ever. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) reports retail switch access for traditional phone users has declined at a compounded annual rate of 11 percent since 2013 as organizations switch to IP-based telephony (VoIP) and cloud communication tools. Premise-based PBX phone systes are quickly becoming obsolete as UCaaS becomes the standard for business voice communications.

    Office phone systems have experienced a significant revolution in recent years. The digital PBX was once the gold standard for enterprise-grade business phone systems. During the 1990s an investment in PBX represented the most reliable telephone switching system to extend voice communications from the public switched telephone network (PSTN). In the years since the demand for affordable and flexible voice communications has driven the maturity of IP solutions based in the cloud. Today, a premise-based PBX system is no longer the best choice for many businesses. Continuing to rely on a legacy PBX could be a risk to your business.

    Risk #1: Copper Telephone Network Facilities are Being Retired

    The infrastructure for the PSTN is aging quickly. In late 2017, the FCC voted to pass a groundbreaking decision to make it easier for major carriers to cease support for copper facilities by eliminating requirements for FCC approval and certain consumer notices. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai stated requirements to maintain copper infrastructure cost $40-50 per customer each year.

    Several major carriers have officially discontinued support and maintenance activities for copper facilities in major markets throughout the Northeast United States, including Verizon and AT&T. Copper was historically a reliable choice for telephony, but infrastructure built throughout the 20th Century isn't foolproof and some of it, especially in dense urban areas, has fallen into disrepair. Copper erodes over time, and many facilities nationwide are approaching end-of-life.

    Copper is also costlier to install and maintain than fiber alternatives, and can be susceptible to natural disasters, weather conditions, vandalism, and information security attacks. The FCC's decision to support telephone carrier's move towards fiber-optic technology is a clear signal that copper facilities have reliability risks-- risks to your business which are sure to increase now that copper networks aren't being maintained.

    Risk #2: PRI is Quickly Approaching Obsolescence

    The days are numbered for Legacy PBX systems based on PRI technology, which stands for Primary Rate Interface (PRI). This once-popular choice for business phone systems consists of premises-based technology to support 23 channels per PRI for telephone service.

    PRI requires adopters to purchase costly capacity in units of 23, necessitates expensive expert maintenance, and is slow to scale because of the extensive support requirements. Many manufacturers have begun actively encouraging customers to switch to cloud-based solutions instead of PRI. The disadvantages of this technology accelerate the inevitable death of PRI compared to alternatives. Many manufacturers will shut off support for PRI technology by 2020-2025, including the world's largest manufacturer BT Wholesale.

    Risk #3: The Handset isn’t What it Used to Be

    Technological evolution in recent years has had a dramatic impact on communications and workplace habits. Less than two decades ago, employees performed the majority of their work during business hours within arm's reach of a desktop phone or handset. Today, 70% of the global talent force works from home at least one day each week. Knowledge workers aren’t tied to employer-owned desktop computers or handsets anymore, either. 85% of employers permit their staff to use personal smartphones or tablets for work via increasingly popular “bring your own device” policies.

    Handset technology for employee workspaces and conference rooms still has an essential role in the contemporary workforce, but they're certainly not the single, primary tool for communicating any longer. Legacy PBX Systems which limit employees to office-based work lines can create unnecessary lines of separation between desk lines and mobile numbers which can hamper workflows and productivity or create confusion. Switching to UCaaS creates a flexible, mobile-first workplace where employees can perform flexible, multimedia communications through a mobile device, laptop, tablet, or handset based on preference and needs.  

    Can You Afford to Depend on Your Legacy PBX?

    Switching to Unified Communications as a Service is no longer a risk to your business. The technology and reliability has improved markedly over the last 10 years. Ironically, adopting UCaaS can PROTECT your business from the reliability and productivity risks of continuing to depend on a Legacy PBX system. Traditional premises-based phone systems are costly and based on technologies which are quickly approaching obsolescence, like copper cabling facilities or PRI.

    If you have delayed a switch to IP-based phone systems due to a fear of losing communications if Internet connectivity goes down, you will be relieved to learn these risks are lower than ever. Fiber-based data connectivity is highly reliable and resistant to weather and interference-based threats which impacted DSL and cable reliability. If connectivity is lost, UCaaS systems offer automatic failover to employee mobile devices to ensure continuous communications. When you partner with a UCaaS vendor who is committed to business continuity and transparent about how they protect client uptime, you will gain uptime guarantees and a highly redundant communications infrastructure.

    Get a Price Quote for Unified Communications

    From Legacy PBX to UCaaS: The 6 Step Roadmap for a Smooth Migration

    Switching to UCaaS is a major change, but turning off your legacy PBX system doesn’t need to be a “big bang implementation” which happens overnight. A smooth transition to cloud communications tools should be customized to meet your businesses’ needs and designed in a way which eliminates any risks of lost productivity or staff confusion.

    To ensure a great experience with your new communications systems, you can take an active role in preparing for a smooth migration. In this eBook, you'll learn the six essential steps for a successful migration from PBX to UCaaS and best practices for each step straight from the experts.

    6 Migration Steps from PBX to UCaaS

    The process of migrating to UCaaS is can be surprisingly orderly and relatively painless for many first-time adopters, especially compared to the demands of installing historical alternatives based on PSTN technology. Before the advent of VoIP technology, moving to a new building or upgrading your communications infrastructure required approval from your landlord and sending a request to the local phone company. You had to schedule an on-site visit several weeks in advance, and pay steep costs for an invasive installation. The process of waiting for a “truck roll” to your site from a technician was repeated each time you needed to add a line or perform maintenance.

    Switching to UCaaS can free your organization from dependency on costly premises-based equipment or slow, unpredictable timelines for system upgrades. System maintenance and upgrades are entirely outsourced to your cloud vendor, giving you the flexibility to redirect your internal technology resources. You can add features and users as your requirements evolve, and pay only for the services used.

    While the UCaaS migration process is simple, it isn’t foolproof. More importantly, a cloud communications implementation should never be one-size-fits-all. The process of switching over should be fully customized to your organization based on your needs and factors such as the number of users, the number of sites, training requirements, and more. The right UCaaS vendor should do the majority of the heavy lifting to ensure the experience is seamless.

    To ensure your migration goes as smoothly as possible, it’s wise to know in advance what to expect from the process and your new cloud communications partner. Atlantech Online has been in the business of providing telecommunications and Internet services to organizations in the greater Washington DC metro area, Maryland, and Virginia since 1995. During our decades of industry experience, we’ve helped thousands of businesses migrate to a new phone system--from the largest community college in the United States to small government contractors, mid-sized healthcare organizations, and many more. These experiences have helped us refine our process for client migrations and informed the following best practices for a UCaaS migration.

    1. Take Inventory

    To create a useful roadmap for a UCaaS migration from a legacy PBX system, you need to include a clear baseline of the tools you're already using and how you're using them. This begins with a comprehensive inventory of your existing telephony systems to create an effective, detailed plan for replacement.

    When you're interviewing prospective UCaaS vendors, it's common to discuss your phone directory and local area network at a high-level overview. Chances are, you arrived at these conversations and negotiations armed with a general idea of your needs, based on the total number of employees, work sites, and phone lines in the business. While these figures are important, they're not the full audit needed to create an effective implementation plan.

    Why forgotten phone lines are a UCaaS migration risk

    Perhaps your organization is relatively small, with a single site and just ten employees. If you fit this description, you may not be facing a complex inventory process to capture employee names, numbers, and phones effectively. For the majority of firms, the inventory process is a bit more complicated. It's surprisingly common for first-time UCaaS users to forget about phone lines used to support fax devices, alarm systems, or elevators. Shared phone lines in common areas such as mailrooms or legacy devices can also be easily overlooked.

    Forgotten phone lines and technological needs can't be included in your implementation plan, which can lead to issues when you're trying to go-live. When neither the vendor or the client is prepared, you can face a lot of risks to effective business communications. Best case scenario for an incomplete inventory. But, we typically uncover these during our Statement of Work preparations prior to cutover. Otherwise, you could face disrupted communications or delays. That is why we're very thorough when doing an SOW to make sure that no stone is left unturned.

    Best Practices for a System Inventory

    Some vendors will ask customers for a list of all devices, including handsets, smartphones, PBX gear and a list of users. Others will request a list of phone numbers and associated names. At Atlantech, we've heard from countless customers of all sizes that the inventory process is surprisingly difficult, so we've worked to simplify this process to the greatest extent possible.

    Best Practice #1: Use a Template

    Chances are, you don’t perform a PBX system audit on a daily basis. Atlantech provides customers with a spreadsheet-based template for creating a comprehensive audit of all phone numbers, names, and associated hardware to simplify the data collection process.

    A template serves several purposes in the inventory process. It streamlines the data collection process for clients across numbers, users, equipment, and the location of each of these factors. The spreadsheet encourages companies to consider phone lines which can easily be overlooked, like fax machines.

    When your business has multiple sites and a large IT team, a template can be used for collaboration internally and with the experts at your new UCaaS provider. Completing an inventory spreadsheet is never entirely painless, but it's a valuable exercise which sets you up for success in migration and planning an effective implementation process.

    Best Practice #2: Use Many Resources for Inventory

    Chances are, your IT team will perform a great deal of legwork on an inventory. This doesn't mean it's entirely IT's responsibility. A hastily performed inventory is pretty risky when you consider the prevalence of shadow IT. Unauthorized IT includes any technology which exists outside the knowledge of the IT department, including mobile devices. By Gartner's estimates, 30-40% of the hardware, endpoints, and applications in the enterprise are shadow IT.

    We recommend that clients use existing resources as the first step toward completing an inventory spreadsheet, such as existing phone trees and IT audit documents. Next, you want to talk to everyone in the organization to understand the communications tech they use and how they use it. This makes sure that nothing is missed and lends a greater understanding of how users interact with technology. During this process, you're likely to discover some UCaaS requirements you didn't know existed which can be integrated into your new system design, like the fact some employees have to rely on personal mobile devices to do their jobs.

    Best Practice #3: Collaborate and Prioritize

    Atlantech service advisors work closely with clients during the inventory process to ensure pitfalls are avoided and the final inventory is an accurate depiction of the telephony system. When the heavy lifting is over, Atlantech works closely with clients to understand the list and begin creating a customized implementation design. A comprehensive inventory should be an accurate snapshot of your current systems and needs. This can be used to determine whether you need a phase migration, create a training plan, and further refine system requirements.

    If your organization has a high number of users or multiple sites, you may be a strong candidate for a phased migration which takes place over several days. The inventory may influence your decision about whether to use your vendor for on-site training and how this will take form, such as a multi-part training to create internal superusers and role-based training by department. The inventory process can also reveal priorities for your implementation, such as the order for migrating departments or sites to cloud communication tools.

    How to Ensure a Successful Inventory

    If your UCaaS vendor is vague on the requirements for an inventory, you should make sure to clarify exactly which data points they need to perform a migration successfully. Use a systematic approach, such as a spreadsheet, to capture as much data as possible about users, phone lines, existing hardware, and your current PBX system. Inquire about common pitfalls and be sure to talk to everyone to create a full picture of your existing system. While an IT audit is rarely a quick or straightforward process, it's a worthwhile step in UCaaS migration to avoid hidden costs or continuity surprises on go-live date.

    2. Initiate the Porting Process

    Your business is legally entitled to retain your phone numbers when switching from a Legacy PBX to UCaaS, with incredibly rare exceptions such as relocating your business over a substantial geographic distance. The FCC is very clear that number porting is a legal right, not an optional benefit for companies who switch communications providers or upgrade technology. In their own words, "You can switch telephone service providers for wireline, wireless, or Voice over Internet Protocol and keep your existing phone number if you remain in the same geographic area." This concept is called Local Number Portability or LNP for short.

    While porting numbers is something you are entitled to, it doesn’t necessarily mean this process is immediate or easy. If you are contracted with a traditional phone service provider, they could be resistant to the porting process. Not all UCaaS providers are experienced in simplifying porting for clients or negotiating with other vendors. Other risks which can occasionally arise during the porting process include hidden fees, difficulty contacting emergency service (911) during the porting process, or slight delays during the porting process.

    Best Practices for Number Porting

    Remember, you're legally entitled to retain your phone numbers when you switch to UCaaS. Having to adopt new phone numbers, even temporarily, can create significant risks to your business of disrupted communications. Atlantech's approach to porting numbers is designed to reduce risks to clients and build a pain-free migration process.

    Best Practice #1: Understand Termination Day

    If you are terminating services with a traditional phone service provider, don't perform guess-work about when this date should occur. Verify a time with your vendor for when your system will be going live. This date should not be any earlier than your implementation day.

    Best Practice #2: Understand Your Costs and Rights

    Your former vendor is legally required to let your organization port your phone numbers, even if you owe a balance on your account. If they are resistant to this law, the FCC or local public utility regulator can intervene on your behalf. You may incur a cost for number porting from your vendor, which is typically a small fee charged on a per-number basis. To avoid surprises, work with your new UCaaS provider to receive a porting cost estimate, if applicable, in advance.

    Best Practice #3: Planning for a Successful Port

    Your UCaaS provider will request a small amount of data from you to successfully port the numbers, which consists of a list of phone numbers and your businesses' account number with a prior vendor if applicable. Phone number data can likely be pulled directly from the pre-migration inventory of your existing phone systems.

    Your porting process will take place in one business day or less on the day of your system migration. If you are doing a phased migration, you will also experience a phased porting process. On one Friday night in July 2017, we ported 20,000 numbers in just a few hours!

    During the period when numbers are actively being ported, you may experience temporary issues with 911 call-back services. Ask your vendor on best practices for making emergency calls during the porting process. Atlantech clients are generally advised to perform any needed calls to emergency services from a mobile phone or provide 911 dispatch with a call back number.

    How to Ensure Painless Porting

    Verify with your new UCaaS vendor that you are entitled to port your numbers and a risk-free date to terminate any previous phone services, and ask how they manage the number porting process for new clients. Make sure the migration plan is created to address the minimal risks which can occur during number porting, including planning an entire business day for making the change and accommodation for 911 services. While porting rarely presents issues to first-time UCaaS adopters, it should be designed carefully.

    3. Verify the LAN

    Switching to UCaaS means minimizing your organization’s hardware and technological complexity. Instead of a Legacy PBX system, you will be upgrading to IP-based handsets which require minimal configuration. While UCaaS has simple on-site requirements, it isn’t a foolproof implementation. Before migration, you need to verify local area network (LAN) capabilities to ensure your organization has the right bandwidth and configurations to support multimedia communications.

    Some cut-rate VoIP and UCaaS vendors take a “plug-and-pray” approach to clients which consists of shipping phones to new customers to be plugged in on implementation day and hoping they work effectively. While connecting a VoIP-compatible handset to ethernet isn’t difficult, you don’t want to discover on your go-live date that your data connectivity isn’t optimized for quality of service (QoS).

    Best Practices for LAN Verification

    High-quality, reliable voice calls are critical to effective voice communications. Without sufficient bandwidth and a correctly configured network, your business can suffer risks to quality, reliability, or information security. Atlantech assists organizations in creating a comprehensive network and bandwidth assessment and provides necessary upgrades to minimize risk.

    Best Practice #1: Ensure Your LAN or WAN is Reliable

    While some organizations and vendors attempt a UCaaS deployment in conjunction with high-speed Wi-Fi Internet networks, it’s risky. High-speed Internet rarely offers bandwidth guarantees and resources are shared between businesses and consumers. Periods of peak demand for bandwidth can cause issues such as jitter, packet loss, or delayed transmissions. IP phones and multimedia cloud communications tools should virtually always be deployed with a wired network.

    At Atlantech, we perform a comprehensive bandwidth assessment for our customers existing data usage habits and networks to create a clear picture of how the customer uses data and factors such as network security. Depending on the findings of this assessment, we may recommend an upgrade or the installation of fiber-optic Internet connectivity.

    Atlantech customers are also typically advised to acquire dual network connectivity with SD-WAN or MPLS capabilities for automatic-failover, especially when we’re working with clients who have extreme uptime needs, multiple sites, or a high volume of data transmission. SD-WAN technology can automate superior network performance after your UCaaS system goes live by dynamically assigning resources and bandwidth based on real-time needs and availability.

    Best Practice #2. Network Configuration

    With a clear picture of the client's network and requirements and how these factors will change after the UCaaS migration, Atlantech sales engineers work closely to configure the network for optimal performance and security. Typically, voice traffic packets should be protected and prioritized with a unique VLAN which is set for expedited forwarding.

    Atlantech engineers verify router settings and perform testing for 24-hours using simulation tools to identify and minimize risks. During this process, engineers will look for a vast number of factors which can impact performance, such as latency, network loops, or IP fragmentation.

    How to Ensure Effective Network Performance

    The process of optimizing your network for a UCaaS deployment is relatively technical and should be carefully managed by your vendor well in advance of migration. You can prepare for this process by interviewing your provider about their method for network testing and optimization to ensure their approach protects the future quality of service and network security.

    UCaaS deployments are likely to increase bandwidth needs for virtually all organizations and are likely to increase your need for network optimization technologies such as SD-WAN. If your organization will be upgrading to fiber or switching to SD-WAN from manual network management methods, it's usually advantageous to partner with a vendor who offers full communications services, including fiber, to save costs on services and achieve simpler troubleshooting.

    4. Procure the Phones

    Upgrading to UCaaS can introduce a need for new handsets, or IP-compatible desktop phones. Many first-time UCaaS clients are pleased by the array of choices they encounter in the world of handsets. Handsets can cost between $200-$1,000 depending on brand and features.

    Best Practices for Phone Selection

    At Atlantech, we recognize that phone handseet selection is an opportunity to simplify the migration process and reduce costs for our clients, so we offer close guidance during this phase. Unlike other vendors, we don’t limit our clients to using models from a single manufacturer, though we do have partnerships in place to pass savings on to our clients. The phones also have to be certified to interoperate with our voice switch. So don't assume that any IP phone you have already will work with our or any other UCaaS carriers switch.

    Best Practice #1: Define Requirements

    An effective inventory process is the most effective tool for defining your requirements for handsets. Not everyone in your organization will need the highest-end handset with all of the features. Atlantech helps clients perform selections for the features based on the data used to complete an inventory of existing phone systems. Understanding how your users perform voice communications can determine the characteristics they need in a handset, which can include:

    • 3-Way Calling
    • Intercom
    • Automatic Callback
    • Call Transfer
    • Call Forwarding
    • Call Hold
    • Speed Dial
    • Call Waiting
    • Inside/Outside Ringing

    Generally, the "right" phone for business represents a broad mixture of models. Some users’ needs are met with very basic handsets, others need more-sophisticated devices, and other phone lines need conference-capable, top-of-the-line handsets.

    Best Practice #2: Define Mobile-Only Users

    Based on the assessment of handset needs, you may also discover that not every user needs a handset at all. For example, road warriors who rarely work from the office or a home office may perform over 90% of their communications via a mobile device. Atlantech helps clients succeed with mobile-only deployments to UCaaS users (our service is based on the Cisco Broadsoft platform) to deliver mobile-first cloud communication tools. While most UCaaS vendors should support this approach, it's not a given--some VoIP and UCaaS vendors require clients to purchase a softphone for each user or make mobile-only users download open source applications that may not securely transmit phone calls.

    How to Ensure You Select the Right Phones

    Be prepared for the enormous number of choices that exist in the world of VoIP-compatible handsets, or for the possibility that you may not be given a choice at all. During the vendor interview phase, ask how they approach the handset selection process. While choice and the ability to save money is something we believe is a client’s right, you may be on your own during the handset-selection process. You also could be forced to purchase handsets for all of your users or limited to one brand of handsets.

    The vendor should provide support and tools for your company to save costs on phone selection by offering optional savings and unlimited advice on understanding your requirements. Remember, sometimes the right phone could be no handset at all for users who almost exclusively rely on mobile devices.

    5. Configure Hosted PBX Environment

    Before your go-live date, your internal administrator will need to understand how to take advantage of management capabilities in the new virtual, or hosted, PBX environment. UCaaS solutions virtually always offer a simple, point-and-click solution for phone system administration which is accessible through a web or mobile application. This administration portal generally provides the capabilities to add and remove phone lines, manage features, and perform other tasks fully from the Internet. There will also be some configuration tasks needed.

    Best Practices for Configuring Your Hosted PBX Environment

    Some vendors provide limited training or knowledge resources to new phone system administrators, or worse, assume that IT staff will take care of configuration on migration day. This can lead to significant risks of a hosted PBX with missing features or frustration. At Atlantech, we provide customized training and clear configuration guidance to help clients approach the migration process with confidence.

    A seamless roadmap for migration begins with empowered staff, including future system administrators who are prepared to perform any needed changes to the phone system. Training should be a core part of the migration plan. At Atlantech, we streamline the success process by helping administrators understand how to configure the new system based on the inventory and internal requirements. This includes the configuration of:

    • Auto-Attendant/Virtual Receptionist
    • Interactive Voice Recognition
    • Extension Dialing
    • Transfers
    • Call Routing
    • Virtual Inbox/Voicemail to Email Capabilities
    • Inbound Call Routing

    How to Succeed at Configuring Your Hosted PBX

    If you were fully satisfied with your current phone system, you wouldn't be considering making a switch to UCaaS. Changing to cloud-based communications tools introduces entirely new features and capabilities, including a centralized administration portal for making simple changes from a web app. Understanding how to use the portal is critical, but your experience will be best if you have a clear vision of how to optimize your systems as well.

    Inquire about your vendor's process for cloud PBX configuration, and how they support clients during this process to ensure you will have access to the training and on-demand knowledge resources needed. Determine whether their staff provide expert insight into streamlining and optimizing the capabilities of your new platform. Finally, verify timelines to make sure you're not going to be stuck scrambling to create a contact center queue on migration day.

    6. Schedule Cutover

    Attempting to schedule a systems cutover without completing all of the other five steps on this list could result in all kinds of threats to your business communications, which range from poor call quality to insufficient bandwidth. Most commonly, a poorly planned cutover increases cost to your organization. You could end up stuck paying for a surprising bandwidth upgrade or extra training resources, or suffer the productivity costs of staff who aren't trained fully.

    UCaaS implementations are usually relatively quick after you sign a contract with a vendor, but that's not always a benefit to the client. Before you schedule a cutover, it is critical that a provider has completed the process to fully evaluate your needs and ensure you have a well-planned implementation.

    Best Practices for Scheduling a Cutover

    Atlantech provides fast service to clients, but we also are cautious about scheduling migration days. There are numerous factors which should play a role in creating an implementation plan, all of which are unique to a client's business. Our engineers work closely to understand a client's business and needs. The factors we use to schedule include size, company structure, existing technology, and budget.

    Best Practice #1: Decide Between a Single or Multi-Phased Cutover

    A one-day migration is not the right choice for every organization. Some companies are best served by a multi-phased migration which takes place over several days. Migrating an organization in batches is generally the right choice for large firms, multi-site organizations, or a high number of remote workers. It's also usually the best path for companies with highly autonomous business units or organizations with limited IT resources to serve a large number of users. 

    Best Practice #2: Consider Existing Infrastructure

    Atlantech considers a client's existing technological infrastructure when evaluating multi-phased migrations and scheduling cutover dates. If you have a sophisticated infrastructure and numerous mission-critical systems, you may not be best served by a multi-phased migration. In some cases, this can create an extraneous need for costly, complex integrations to keep systems running during a prolonged cutover.

    Best Practice #3: Account for Budget

    Your cost requirements are a final factor Atlantech uses to schedule and plan migrations. We work closely with clients to optimize their budget according to their need for training and on-site support.

    How to Ensure Effective Scheduling for Cutover

    Your migration should never occur before you're ready to switch to UCaaS, including a fully trained staff and a comprehensive implementation plan. Ask your vendor how they plan and customize cutover day according to client needs and cost requirements, and how they've completed a UCaaS migration for similar clients.

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    How Long Will It Take?

    Once you've selected the right partner for UCaaS and signed a contract, you can typically expect to go live with your new system within 30 days. UCaaS implementations can be completed relatively quickly because many clients don't need to wait for PSTN circuits and hardware to be installed.  This isn't an absolute, and vendor timelines can vary. However, your organization's needs should be the primary factor which determines your roadmap to UCaaS.

    No two organizations are the same, and Atlantech has personally encountered a wide range of client timelines during UCaaS implementations. The factors we use to schedule cutovers for clients include an organization’s size, preferences, training needs, budget, and complexity. While a week is possible for some organizations, next-day change is rarely realistic. A rushed technological change can lead to mistakes.

    Months or year-long migrations are generally ill-advised because they can unnecessarily inflate complexity and costs. Slow migrations usually result in organizations paying for two phone systems at the same time. Also, it's generally harder to successfully train staff when two environments are being simultaneously used.

    If you're eager to make the switch, the best step you can take is to begin creating an active inventory immediately to speed the information-gathering process. The leading UCaaS vendors offer zero-touch provisioning to mitigate timeline delay. In addition to an adequate inventory, you should ensure your bandwidth capabilities are high enough to accommodate UCaaS or schedule an immediate upgrade to fiber Internet capabilities to avoid unnecessary delays.

    How Much Downtime Will We Have?

    Proper planning is key to avoiding downtime. Don't hesitate to ask your vendor about typical downtime during a UCaaS cutover to prevent a loss of productivity. Generally, you shouldn't experience more than one half of a business day of downtime due to factors such as number porting. Generally, Atlantech recommends that cutover occurs during business hours to ensure all staff is available to help with migration and testing.

    How To Make The Transition As Smooth As Possible

    Ideally, a UCaaS switch should be painless and straightforward. However, there are pitfalls which can occur. One risk you can control internally is change management and obtaining leadership buy-in to your new system.

    If your management team isn't entirely on board with the new system, you could experience a lack of support. Leadership plays an essential role in visibly advocating for UCaaS and assuring the IT team about the vision for the new system.

    Technology staffers can sometimes perceive a UCaaS system as a threat and create resistance due to fear of being engineered out of a job. Education is vital, and it is essential to sell IT staff on positive ways their role will evolve post-cutover. In many organizations, switching to simpler UCaaS can offer the IT team opportunities to pursue new projects, initiatives, and take a strategic new role within the organization.

    Questions to Ask Your UCaaS Partner

    Question #1: Do You Support Hybrid Migrations?

    Many organizations have a strong use case for a “hybrid migration,” which is defined as an implementation which blends UCaaS and analog phone technology. If you have fax machines, credit card machines, alarm systems, or elevators with phone lines, you may qualify to retain a few analog lines. Verify that your vendor can support a hybrid migration if you need to blend phone technologies.

    Question #2: Do You Support Shared Call Appearances?

    Shared call appearances are a UCaaS technology which allows more than one device to be assigned to a single phone line. Most commonly, organizations choose to attach a desk phone and mobile device to a single phone line. However, shared call appearances can support more complex use cases such as partially remote workers with a desk and home softphone, or employees who use both a company-issued mobile device for work and a personal smartphone.

    Question #3: How Secure is Your Service?

    Information security is a critical concern for adopting UCaaS. While UCaaS can reduce the risks associated with analog phone line technology, the vendor's internal practices, and user interface can further combat threats. Determine how the provider protects clients and whether their evaluation of your needs will include support to optimize safeguards against cybercrime.

    Question #4: Do You Offer TDoS Mitigation?

    Telephony denial of service attacks is a form of cybercrime which involves targeting an organization's phone lines with spam calls to render a system unavailable. This can block customer and internal communications, and create safety concerns in the public sector. Sometimes, a TDoS attack is used to mask other hacking activity against an organization by creating a distraction. Evaluate whether a provider offers TDoS mitigation and prevention plans as an add-on service to UCaaS clients.

    Create a Roadmap for Unified Cloud Communications

    While switching from your legacy PBX system to UCaaS isn't risk-free, it's an important step to avoid the business risks associated with aging phone technology. UCaaS can safeguard your business from the reliability and productivity issues related to voice-only communication tools that are reliant on the aging copper cable facilities of the public telephone network. With the right vendor and a comprehensive plan for a successful cutover, you can experience a successful transition to future-proof cloud communication tools.

    Are you ready for UCaaS? Call Atlantech today to discuss your opportunities for an upgrade at (301) 589-3060.

    Get a Price Quote for Unified Communications