Bell Canada says that approximately half its existing client base for VoIP is public sector, with education and federal government departments representing the lion’s share of that. With that as backdrop, Bell’s Gary Cameron presented these four Lessons Learned at Showcase Ontario this year:
1. Assess where you are
Examine your organization, as it exists today, to determine your starting point, including a tactical analysis of your existing communications infrastructure (both voice and data) and a strategic analysis of business and operations processes.
Data network analysis may include activities like LAN/WAN capacity/traffic/performance assessments, network assets inventory, and reviewing your network-based applications. To optimize the rollout of advanced real-time IP applications, such as IP telephony, IP TV, multi-casting, video-conferencing and others, you need quality of service. Also recommended up front is a detailed security assessment to understand impacts on risk mitigation strategies, including business continuity/disaster recovery plans.
A voice network analysis may involve similar activities but focus on employee communication patterns, a cost-benefit analysis of potential IP multimedia applications/feature sets, and an assessment of voice-related/mission-critical areas.
Assess existing business and operations processes with a focus on those areas most important to industry benchmarks, the organization’s over all strategic direction and even issues of regulatory compliance.
Consider which of these assessments should take place not only prior to, but also during and after implementation to identify new opportunities throughout the migration cycle. Remember that IP & ICT bring a tremendous learning curve, so it’s important to understand when and where you need assistance.
2. Choose your partners carefully
The new world of IP has brought with it many new entrants in the communications arena, making it increasingly difficult to determine the optimal partners and platforms for some solutions or applications.
When assessing your communications partners, ensure special consideration of their degree of proven expertise in the realm of IP and networking. Network infrastructure is the first and foremost step to realizing the benefits of advanced IP applications and ICT solutions.
Also consider the scalability of IP platforms, partnerships and breadth of IP/ICT portfolios, plus planned level of investment, to determine if a proposed partner will meet your current and future needs.
3. Migration strategy
Planning is critical. Take the time to understand and clearly define your IP migration strategy up front. In general, the larger the office the more substantial the return, but other prioritization variables may include organization/group, building, types of user communities, etc.
For IP initiatives like VoIP, identify “good fit” opportunities where existing processes and/or systems can be quickly and easily modified to support a migration strategy, such as getting new hires started, employee moves or changes, or the addition of, for example, new offices.
Also consider which locations or groups may benefit the most from specific ICT solutions, and engage your partners to help you identify them. By assessing and understanding these variables, there is an increased opportunity to maximize the return on investment (ROI) for your IP evolution.
4. Communicate and Train
Think about what your organization is going to need in terms of pre- and post-implementation communication, support and training, and make this a critical component of all planning, roll out and follow-up activities.
This often includes both cross-functional training of data and voice teams prior to roll out, as a converged network infrastructure is the first step in the evolution process.
Consider a variety of different training vehicles at first to accommodate differences in learning styles and gain momentum, and leverage your partners to assist where it makes the most sense.
With respect to IP telephony, ensure your communications are timely and direct, and include detailed information about expectations of each user community. This may involve compulsory training, software or hardware upgrades, or other related activities. Also with IPT, focus on the most compelling applications for each user community, as this will help to illustrate the individual value and offset any inconvenience from the transition. It will also help to demonstrate some quick wins, increase the impact and improve the over all ROI.