Why defining your company’s business goals is the key to unified communications success
I’m asked, almost on a daily basis, what is the best unified communications (UC) solution on the market. Generally speaking, my response is, “Great question! The best UC solution is one that aligns with clearly defined business requirements.” I typically then ask the customer, “What are your business requirements for this solution?”
Seems like a logical question to ask, don’t you think? But occasionally, my question is met with an uncomfortable silence, awkward eye glances, and shifting body movements as the customer tries to articulate a response.
To all potential UC customers, I promise this question is not meant to suck you into some sort of reseller trap. Instead, it is designed to ensure the success of your UC solution. When evaluating a UC solution, clearly defining business goals is the first and most important step. For resellers, understanding how a customer expects to benefit from a solution will influence the products recommended. And for customers, the answer to this question will drive product selection and determine the solution’s success. The question is the benchmark on which customers and resellers will evaluate a UC solution.
Define your business requirements
Too often, UC projects fall short of maximizing the investment because business requirements are not fully understood by an organization upfront. To identify business requirements, customers should ask and answer what, why, and how: What are your processes today? Why do you need to change them? How are you going to benefit from those changes? Answering these questions in detail will drive the success of your solution.
Keep end users in mind
The best business-oriented UC solutions take into account the end users’ requirements. The extent to which a UC solution makes your organization’s employees more efficient, competitive, and productive is the most heavily weighted factor in determining its true ROI. Deployment, administration, and cost follow closely thereafter.
Therefore, do not assume that you know what your end users need. Instead, ask your employees what capabilities and functionalities they require, where they need to access them, and on what device(s). Don’t waste time or money on tools that aren’t needed and won’t be used. If the tools you provide impede your employees’ daily tasks, I have no doubt that they will find a way around them, typically through a hodge-podge of lost memory sticks, unsecured texts, unsafe file sharing, and similar unapproved methods to compete in today’s IT environment. I don’t say this as a challenge to your security team, but it’s the reality companies face given an increasingly tech-savvy and mobile workforce.
Test drive UC solutions
Once your business requirements are clearly defined, you can move forward with a hands-on demo of a UC solution. This will give you a clearer vision of how these tools align with your business drivers and enable you to make any necessary adjustments prior to an organization-wide rollout.
If there’s one thing to take away, remember that successful a UC solution implementation starts with the identification of business requirements. These requirements must reflect the needs of end users, or the solution will fail. Once you define your UC system, make sure to demo the solution within your company’s IT environment. Only then will you make the most of your investment.
Still unsure as to where to start when choosing a UC solution? Contact your SHI representative or email us at UC@shi.com to begin discussing your business’ unified communications goals and matching them with some of the industry’s top UC solutions.