Keep Your Company Connected: The Best Phone Solution for Small Business
Small businesses need cost-effective and reliable telephone systems without having to compromise on quality. The problem is, more than one system type exists – so which is the best phone solution for small business?
Types of Small Business Telephone Systems
Despite the vast and sometimes confusing range of telephone system solutions available on the market today, there are actually only two "main types" of telephone systems for small business. Each of these systems has its own advantages, read on to find out more.
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Traditional On-Site Telephone Systems
If you choose a traditional on-site system, such as Avaya IP Office, you’ll need to have a physical telephone system installed at your company's premises which can either be bought outright or leased from a business telephone system provider.
On-site telephone systems can use analogue, digital or internet-based SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) lines but it’s worth noting that analogue and digital lines are rapidly being upgraded to SIP lines in UK businesses. The reason for this change is because starting in 2020, BT plans to replace all of its existing ISDN lines with SIP alternatives by 2025.
A traditional on-site phone system (which is also known as a “pbx” or private branch exchange) is initially the more expensive of the two types of small business telephone systems, due to the cost of the physical equipment required on-site. However, once it has been installed, you only need to pay for your monthly telephone line rental and the calls you make. Therefore, it can be the cheaper option in the long-run, particularly for larger firms.
Hosted VoIP Telephone Systems
A hosted VoIP phone system for small business is provided via the Internet, so the exchange is hosted off-site by the service provider. This means maintenance and repairs to this system are kept to a bare minimum and you’ll only need to buy as many telephone handsets and hosted VoIP licences (also sometimes referred to as seats, extensions or users) to suit your business’s needs.
One of the biggest advantages of a VoIP phone system for small business is that the initial outlay is much more modest when compared to a traditional on-site system. With a hosted VoIP service, you’ll get access to a telephone system which would have cost you a substantial amount of money to install and have none of the maintenance costs associated with a PBX. For more detailed information, see our blog on the advantages of VoIP systems. The main drawback of a hosted VoIP phone system for small business is that it becomes less cost-effective if you require a large number of users/seats added to the system.
Small Business Telephone Systems – Which Type Should You Choose?
When it comes to the question of identifying the best phone solution for small business, there isn’t a definitive answer; different companies have different needs. There are a few things that you should consider when choosing a small business telephone system.
The long-term cost-effectiveness of these telephone systems for small business will depend on the number of users that you have. Generally, if you have more than 30 users, an on-site system, such as Avaya IP Office, may be your best solution. If you have fewer users, a hosted VoIP system is usually more suitable.
If you have a large number of remote workers, it may be better for you to choose a hosted VoIP system. It can be very expensive to add remote workers to a traditional on-site system.
Sometimes, an on-site PBX can develop faults, so some maintenance and repairs would naturally be required if you were to select a traditional phone system. Also, it can be more difficult to make changes to traditional systems than it is to update hosted VoIP systems. Obviously, the robustness of the equipment and the amount of flexibility you have will depend on the specific system you decide to invest in.
Ultimately, there isn’t a definitive best phone solution for small business, it’s more a question of the most suitable phone system for your small business. We’ve been in the trade a long time and would be happy to advise you further should you need it.