A successful conversion to IP telephony requires the right products, people, and processes, all working in concert. Often when an organization considers change that impacts every employee, such as an enterprise-wide IP telephony implementation, the process tends to focus on hardware, software, and getting the technology up to speed as quickly as possible. However, a company’s infrastructure is also composed of people. With this in mind, here are some tips for managing an enterprise-wide IP telephony implementation. They focus not on technical architecture, but on best practices gleaned from real deployments.
- 1. Build a cross-functional team. Put together a team that has both technical expertise and represents users. Key members include an executive sponsor, a project lead, technology experts, and subject-matter experts from across the organization. When global or multinational regions are involved, include members from each.
- 2. Get your users on board. Resistance to change is normal and should always be anticipated. Manage user expectations by using education and frequent communication to mitigate mystery and uncertainty.
- 3. Do your homework. Understanding your organization’s culture is critical to successfully implementing new technology on a large scale. Consider questions such as:
- Does your company encourage risk taking?
- What have previous technology deployments taught you about how users prefer to be trained?
- 4. Capitalize on what has worked in the past, and learn from the mistakes of others.
- 5. Ensure user requirements drive design requirements. Develop surveys and focus groups to identify user-preferred services and features. Use the survey as a tool to identify critical communications features, validate key business needs, gauge risk tolerance and user discomfort, and identify key functionalities that are paramount to your business.
- 6. Crawl first, walk proudly, and run aggressively. Your implementation strategy should allow you to progressively move faster as your experience levels become more efficient. The number of employees, complexity of user requirements, size of the organization, and how widely all are dispersed affect your migration strategy. Develop a strategy that accounts for all the variables that could change or affect implementation of the network.
- 7. Follow the 80/20 rule. Success depends on several considerations, most important among them is planning. In fact, implementations usually consist of 80% preparation and 20% installation. Quite simply, if you focus on your plan first, the implementation will be much smoother.
- 8. Ensure a successful handoff. A successful Day 2 handoff (defined as the time period immediately following cutover of your new IP telephony solution) requires a well developed support plan, with four elements:
- Team: people who can resolve the entire spectrum of issues
- Processes: use the ones you already have in place rather than creating new ones
- Services: internal and external teams, management tools, and global coverage
- Tools: network monitoring tools to resolve problems before they become visible to users
- 9. Keep your new network clean. Most large enterprises have hundreds of lines and circuits that, through the years, have either been forgotten about or are simply unused. View your IP telephony implementation as an opportunity to start anew, as well as clean and prepare the IP infrastructure. So, when the implementation team begins the conversion, remove as many unused lines off the PBX as possible, and only convert those lines that are actually in use.
- 10. Plan for PBX lease returns. The team member responsible for the retrofit cleanup should enter all PBX leases into a spreadsheet and develop a project plan to keep the returns on track.
- 11. Look back, move forward, and prepare for the future. Whether an IP telephony implementation involves 200 phones or 20,000 phones, change management will be the most challenging ongoing process to maintain, but not because of routine changes or software upgrades. Maintaining a strict, yet manageable and scalable, process will be critical to your success, so eliminate as many unknowns as possible by documenting your procedures and capturing lessons learned.
Article courtesy: wikiHow
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