How to upgrade from on-premise to cloud phone systems

Meryl D’Sa-Wilson is the Content Market Manager at Global Call Forwarding, a global provider of local and toll-free numbers. She has been a content writer and editor for over 8 years and has written about business trends, travel, marketing, recruitment, remote working, technology, and communications. You can reach her on LinkedIn.

Global Call Forwarding’s Meryl D’Sa-Wilson explains the problems with legacy phone systems, and why you should upgrade.

Your phone system is a vital part of how your business communicates with customers and prospects. Without a reliable, high-quality service, you may encounter issues with audio quality, caller experience, connection rates, and more. So, it’s important to take a moment and evaluate your current phone system and consider if it’s time for an upgrade.

While all phone systems come with at least a few features and functionalities, traditional networks are limited in their capabilities. And this is mostly true for on-premise legacy phone systems. In any case, this is a major drawback for businesses that want to modernize their tech stack for improved efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and scalability.

In this article, we’ll discuss how businesses can upgrade from on-premise to cloud phone systems. Specifically, we’ll consider:

  • Problems with legacy phone systems,
  • Why you should upgrade,
  • What to consider before upgrading, and
  • How to switch from on-premise to cloud

Problems With Legacy Phone Systems and Why You Should Upgrade

As legacy tech becomes outdated, you’ll find a growing need to upgrade your business phone system. In fact, 92% of companies use services connected to or running in the cloud and 69% of companies have accelerated their cloud migration over the past 12 months (as of 2022).

But why are businesses choosing modern solutions such as cloud phone systems? Legacy phone systems are often associated with:

  • High upkeep and maintenance costs
  • Need for qualified engineers and technicians
  • Limited flexibility and scalability
  • Incompatibility with new, advanced features and integrations
  • More security vulnerabilities

On the contrary, cloud phone solutions provide more benefits:

  • Affordable and cost-effective
  • No need for extra equipment; simply connect to your IP network
  • Low maintenance and upkeep needs
  • No need for a qualified IT team
  • Advanced functionality and features; advanced routing, conferencing, etc
  • Unlimited scalability; upgrade and downgrade as needed
  • No long-term contracts or commitments
  • More security and reliability
  • Connect local and global teams

What to Consider Before Upgrading

As you can see, there are many reasons to take your legacy phone systems to the cloud. But what matters most is why your business should upgrade. In other words, what are the reasons your business needs a better phone system? Consider the following contributing factors:

*Note: You can also use this checklist to help plan out the migration process as you start upgrading your legacy phone systems

Infrastructure:

  • What is your current communication infrastructure and what are you trying to improve?
  • Are you trying to increase operational efficiency or simply switch to a better service provider?
  • How much of your existing infrastructure do you want to save?

Need:

  • What problems or gaps are you trying to solve by modernizing your legacy system?
  • Are there any recurring issues your teams (and/or customers) are facing with respect to your phone communication?

Features:

  • What features are you looking for? This will help you determine what type of cloud phone service provider you should find.
  • Do you need advanced routing and forwarding features?
  • Will video and audio conferencing help fill gaps in the system?
  • Do you need communication tools to help you communicate with a global audience?
  • Or, will a bare-bones service be enough?

Migration:

  • Do you want to switch everything over at once or only certain parts at a time? If so, which parts?
  • Which departments will be included in the shift?

Budget:

  • How much can you spend on upgrading your phone system? Consider how much providers are offering as well.

Downtime:

  • How much does downtime cost your business?
  • What associated downtime can you expect? This is important to check when researching potential providers. Then, compare that with how much downtime you can afford.

How to Upgrade from On-Premise to Cloud Phone System

As you answer the above questions, you’ll better understand what exactly your business phone system needs. That will help you decide how to upgrade – particularly, you can determine:

  • What problems to solve and what features/services can help you solve those problems
  • How much your business can spend on this upgrade and which provider fits within your budget
  • And finally, how exactly you will switch over to the new system.

Each business’ migration and digital transformation process will look different based on its needs. But here’s a general overview of how to upgrade from an on-premise to a cloud phone system:

1. Audit Existing Infrastructure and Decide What New Services You Want

First, work with your internal IT team to run a comprehensive audit of equipment, software, devices, users, networks, workstations, and so on. This will help decide what is missing and what can be used for the migration to the cloud.

Then, determine what you need from your new service provider. This is the time to start looking for the best cloud-based phone system provider for your communication needs. You want to find a provider who can support your transition, work with your existing infrastructure, and fit within your budget.

2. Consider How You Want to Upgrade

Next, ask about and research the different ways you can upgrade.

In most cases, you simply subscribe to a cloud phone service provider. This could be a cloud phone number provider or a unified communications (UCaaS) provider. They will provide you with integration and login details. You log in to their dashboard or control panel and integrate the service with your existing infrastructure. This includes setting up SIP and call forwarding, configuring VoIP connectivity, etc. Your provider will give you the necessary instructions and steps.

Another way to switch to a cloud phone service is by upgrading your existing PBX. This is a bring your own carrier (BYOC) approach, where you add SIP trunks to your PBX to give it cloud communication functionality. In most cases, your PBX software will have an “add trunk” option where you enter your VoIP and SIP credentials. Additionally, your PBX provider will need to whitelist phone numbers associated with the SIP trunks from your new provider. This will enable connectivity between the two services.

As you prepare to upgrade, you must also consider how much of your business will upgrade. Will it be a complete replacement where all solutions, telephony, and agents are switched over simultaneously? Or, will you switch in parts – some users stay on the legacy system while others switch to the new system? Understanding how downtime will affect your business will help you decide the best way to migrate.

3. Find the Right Provider

This is something to keep in mind from the very beginning of planning an upgrade. Consider the different features, services, and transition methods cloud providers offer. Compare all that to their price and your budget. It is a good idea to choose a provider who doesn’t require long-term contracts, so you can change or scale your service as needed.

Make sure to review testimonials, reviews, and case studies to get a comprehensive picture of how different businesses use each provider’s service. This will give you a glimpse of what to expect if you sign up with them.

Modernizing Your Phone System

As you’ve seen, there are many reasons to upgrade and modernize your phone system. With advanced features, additional functionality, and improved quality, you can communicate with customers in a cost-effective and reliable manner.

While the migration process seems complicated, it’s actually pretty simple and only takes a few steps. It’s recommended to go over the process with your chosen provider so that everyone is on the same page. Start by researching cloud phone service providers, then reach out to their representatives or watch product demos. One step at a time; before you know it, you’ll have a brand-new phone system and improved efficiency!

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