Melissa Swartz | September 11, 2019

Replacing your phone system can be complex and intimidating.  Where do you start?

You can talk with your existing solution provider, but you know that they will recommend a solution that they can sell to you.  But is that really the best choice for your organization? There are so many other options available.

How do you find the right information? 

Before you talk with any solution providers, you need to take 3 basic steps.

Step 1.  Answer this question: What are your goals for the new solution?

It seems basic (and it is), but it’s important to take the time to consider this. 

Once you know what you are trying to accomplish, you will save time by eliminating solutions that don’t help you reach your goals.

Examples might include:

    • Additional capabilities and tools
    • Better resilience or business continuity
    • Easier manageability
    • Improve Agility
    • Better Scalability

For a free Project Goals Worksheet, click here.

Now that you know what’s important to you, it’s time to narrow your focus somewhat.

Step 2. Decide whether you want a cloud, premise, or hybrid solution

This is an important decision, so it’s worth the time needed to get it right.  At a high level, here are some general considerations:


Financial Model




  • Monthly charge per user per seat; includes maintenance
  • Operating Expense
  • Phones often purchased up front
  • Scalability
  • Flexibility
  • May require fewer internal resources to support
  • Ongoing delivery of new capabilities
  • Remote workers and sites
  • No control over upgrade schedule
  • Integrations beyond standard APIs can be challenging


  • Typically purchase, but lease options are available
  • Typically Capital Expense but leasing can be Operating Expense
  • Reliability
  • Offers the most control (upgrade schedule, security, compliance, etc.)
  • Customization


  • Scalability
  • Flexibility
  • May require more internal resources to support
  • New capabilities require upgrades; delivered every 12-18 months


However, be aware that these are generalizations.  Capabilities vary by provider.  For example, some cloud providers allow license counts to surge and fall back, and will bill accordingly.  Others don’t allow for significant decreases in license counts (although they are always happy to increase them).

For more in-depth information, click here and here.

Step 3. Do a Needs Analysis

You’ve probably had your existing system for a long time.  There have been a LOT of changes since it was installed.  It’s time to involve key stakeholders and find out about their needs.

Yes, it takes time.  And effort.

But it doesn’t make sense to put a lot of effort into deploying new technology that no one will use.  And you won’t know what will be useful until you ask your users.

There are several ways to find out what your users need. The two most common are:

  • Interview representatives from key groups
  • Send out a survey

Often, I see organizations do a combination of the two. They identify the heaviest user groups and interview representatives. Then they send out a survey to the rest of the organization to uncover any other missing pieces.

Learn why end users are crucial to your needs analysis.

After completing these steps, you will know what you want to accomplish, what your users want, and the architecture (cloud, premise, hybrid) for your technology. You have identified what is important to your organization.

Now you are ready to talk to solution providers to find the solution that’s right for you.