One of the sections of a help4IT IT Infrastructure audit covers the client’s telephone system, as it is a critical component for most SMEs. You might think that telephones have nothing to do with IT, and in many cases they are a totally separate system, however they are rapidly becoming an integrated part of the IT infrastructure. Add in mobile phones as well; modern “smartphones” are essentially mini-computers, so most support calls are in fact IT related.
Here’s some of the most common SME Telephony issues to appear in our audit reports:
1) VoIP – meaning Voice over IP, where the telephones use the same networking as computers. Implemented properly it can reduce costs and offer features like call recording and remote working without additional charges. Done badly (or too cheaply) it can result in poor call quality, dropped calls and a lot of frustration as the provider blames the rest of your IT infrastructure for the problems.
2) Serviced offices often include phones as part of the package, which are usually a VoIP based system. However they rarely pass on the savings, with high call charges and fees for basic admin changes or any extra features. There’s no reason why you can’t go elsewhere for your own dedicated VoIP system!
3) A lot of employees have mobile smartphones or tablets nowadays, and its easy to setup your work email on them, but most SMEs don’t have any sort of policy regarding them. If employees are using their personal devices for work email then it is an added complication, especially when you consider security. What happens if a mobile device is lost or stolen, or the employee leaves the business on unfriendly terms; they may have sensitive data on that device or access to other systems like the company Twitter account? Some email systems like Blackberry and Microsoft Exchange incorporate device control, allowing you to enforce the use of PIN security codes or to remotely wipe the device if necessary. If your email system doesn’t offer such features then there are 3rd party solutions you can implement instead, but either way you should have a written policy in place so employees know what to expect.
4) Telephony segregation – traditional telecoms companies will object but particularly for SMEs who need a more flexible approach it can be advantageous to have a single support provider for your IT and Telephony systems. Telephone systems no longer require dedicated wiring and PBX equipment, they have become another server and client setup, to the extent that you can even host it in the cloud now. With a “cloud PBX” your handsets just need an Internet connection to work, or you can install a “softphone” on your PC and plug a headset into it.