This article was originally published on IT-Toolbox
Anytime politics are involved with deploying new technology, it becomes more about popularity than about the needs and requirements of the individuals involved. Over the years, as IP phones have become more advanced—color touchscreens, multiple lines, web-based applications, advanced unified communications (UC) functions—I’ve seen the political battles play out over and over again. Why, you may ask? The answer may vary, but it’s typically budget. Executive and manager phones with all the multimedia bells and whistles can cost as much as 15 times a basic IP phone with all the associated software licenses.
In this article, I expand the politics to who gets involved in the voice over IP (VoIP)/UC business requirements, who has the capabilities to record calls, who gets bidirectional transcription services (email to voicemail and voicemail to email). I also explore other decisions that may become political during the process of supplier selection and business requirements.
Basic vs. Manager vs. Executive vs. Other IP Phones
Each class offers an abundance of IP phones with a never-ending list of features. For simplicity, I describe three classes in addition to the receptionist model. There’s typically an internal battle for more employees to receive manager models rather than the basic models and executive models rather than manager models. From past experiences, the models are assigned based both on the popularity of the employee and on his or her requirements:
- Basic model. This model includes dial tone, the smallest screen (if any), minimal features, a single line, and basic codec support.
- Manager model. The manager model has more than dial tone, a medium-sized color screen, high-definition voice, 10/100/1000 Ethernet support, Power over Ethernet (POE) support, advanced codec support, and possibly Bluetooth and USB ports.
- Executive model. This model has the largest color and touch screen, multiple 10/100/1000 Ethernet connections with POE, advanced codec support, Bluetooth support, web-based applications, and many more features.
- Receptionist model. Depending on the IP phone system purchased, the model issued to the company receptionist depends on whether it’s a UC or VoIP system. Receptionists should be able to see presence (who’s available), drag and drop calls into voicemail or transfer queues, handle multiple calls simultaneously, and see every extension in the company through an “operators console” (which can go by different names, such as attendant console), not to mention the type of headset required.
Not all employees are allowed to integrate mobile devices with their office IP phones. Managers and executives often are allowed to use their own mobile devices or are issued company-owned mobile devices depending on their job function and level. Again, politics are involved in who gets what and who can use their mobile devices on the corporate network. In many cases, field employees only get mobile devices access because they may not have an office, except in their homes.
Not all employees are or should be allowed to record calls. Today’s VoIP/UC systems have built-in or add-on call recording capabilities, but legally call-recording restrictions do exist. Always check federal and state laws pertaining to risks that could expose any type of criminal activities and any type of civil lawsuits. In the case of your company, it’s safe to assign recording privileges to customer support—with the message, “This call may be recorded for training purposes”—but be sure to include an opt-out option because you must have consent from the party being recorded. This article isn’t intended to address the laws but rather to raise awareness that VoIP/UC systems have the capability to record calls.
Executives should keep in mind that the system administrator could configure the system without their knowledge to allow call recordings. Therefore, the company should develop and implement a policy and procedure for recording calls.
Did politics affect your VOIP/UC system? Have you had to present a return on investment model to get access to a higher-level phone than your boss wants to assign to you? Have you been issued an advanced model even if you don’t need one? Does your firm allow call recording (for training purposes)? Who has phone support when the disaster recovery system is enabled during major storms or events? Perhaps you need to buy donuts every day during the period of IP phone assignments to get a better IP phone and mobile device support.
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