The orchestra has taken their seats. Strings, percussion, brass, woodwinds. Each player has a specific part to play within their section, and all the sections must come together in harmony to perform. To create the music. In black tuxedo and tails, the conductor ascends the podium, taps her baton, and begins.
Now that, in a nutshell, is how Unified Communications (UC) for business works. Let me break it down. The orchestra sections are like the technology silos in your organization. The violins, flutes, drums and other instruments represent the tech tools required for successful UC. They rest in the hands of people with unique talents and a passion for the orchestrated performance. They have trained hard, together. They are the staff — reliant upon and appreciative of one another. And finally, the conductor is leadership. In music it’s one person. In business, the “conductor” can be a unified team of department heads, along with a trusted UCaaS vendor like Marco.
7 Steps to Prep for the Big Show
Cloud-based Unified Communication is here to stay. Nearly every business, large or small, is destined to implement UC to integrate and optimize business processes, increase user productivity and make more money. According to a recent study, 79% of companies that completed a Post-UC Installation ROI Analysis reported that they met or exceeded their profitability goals.
So, why hasn’t every company adopted UC for call control, multimodal communications, messaging, collaboration, conferencing (audio/Web/video), mobility and Business Process Integration (BPI)? If your business hasn’t yet, why not? The answer is easy: Transitioning to UC is scary. It’s a big undertaking, with a lot of moving parts, that requires people and processes to change. And change is hard.
However, with a concerted approach to the UC process, that fear can be mitigated and replaced with enthusiasm. To begin making beautiful UC music in your organization, start with an easy 7-step approach.
1. Establish the Conductor
As mentioned, the “Conductor” for UC adoption is a collection of chosen leadership, from the top down to key departmental leaders. Harmonious agreement in in UC objectives is critical from the onset. If there’s conflict in the leadership ranks, that disparity will trickle down through the organization during UC implementation.
2. Assemble the Band
Get all of your staff (in-house, remote, contractors, etc.) together and on the same page early in the process. Give everyone a clear picture that change is coming, and it’s going to be great when implemented. Just as orchestras practice and rehearse, announce that training sessions and rehearsals will be part of the adventure.
3. Take Requests
Talk to end users within the organization, as well as with customers. Invite requests for what they’d like to see UC do in terms of productivity, ease-of-use and ROI. Conduct surveys if it makes sense, and engage everyone down to the Support Desk to best develop the UC platform that will deliver results.
4. Tune the Instruments
It’s critical to assess all the technology assets that are currently in place in your organization to determine shortcomings and future needs. A VoIP Readiness Assessment is a primary effort, along with infrastructure assessments to ensure adequate connectivity, cyber security, voice quality and more. All components of technology, from data bases to mobile devices, are like instruments needing to be perfectly tuned to one another.
5. Staff the Orchestral Sections
Create work clusters staffed with talented people to focus on specific tasks within their disciplines. However, resist isolated technology silos from forming at all costs. Think about a violinist, totally focused on playing those strings. He doesn’t play the drums, nor does the drummer play the fiddle. But, each understands and appreciates the other’s role in forming the tune. So, encourage the same kind of multi-discipline understanding in your sections. Some common work clusters include:
- Application Development
- Infrastructure Engineering
- Customer, Relationship, Service and Project Management
- System Administration
- Network and Services Administration
- Help Desk and Technical Support Services
6. Go Live
Prior to deploying UC, there are critical tests needed to ensure full functionality. First, you should run a baseline test to provide information about ports, ALG, and connectivity. Then you’ll conduct a media monitoring test to simulate VoIP calls and other cloud-based functions. This allows network engineers to know what voice quality to expect once an actual telephone is deployed. Finally, partner with your UCaaS provider to run ongoing tests to determine your level of preparedness for deployment.
7. Keep Tuning
Every organization experiences cultural shifts internally as UC replaces the way things have always been done. It’s natural. There will be static and disagreement among the players in your band. Be proactive in keeping the harmony. Some tactics to employ include:
- Keep the customer and end user experience top-of-mind.
- Nurture an interdependent team that speaks the same UC language.
- Ensure that job security is not threatened.
- Retain an independent UCaaS consultant like Marco for important guidance.
- Provide ongoing education and time for the staff to collaborate.
- Attend conferences and vendor visits as a team.
- Applaud! Give incentives, recognition and rewards for a job well done.