If you’re searching for a business phone system, there are many questions you need to answer first.
1. Do you require an entire phone system that features physical office telephones, or could your small business get by by using a virtual phone service that relies solely on cellular devices as an alternative to traditional office phones?
2. If you do need office telephones, what kind of service do you need? You must choose between cloud phone system, which can be provided by a nearby or regional phone company, plus a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) system, which runs over the internet and is made available from a variety of providers.
3. If you choose a VoIP, would you like to house the system on your business (on-premises) or get it hosted through your service provider (cloud-based)?
We will allow you to answer those questions, but when you are aware what exactly you need and just want to see our recommendations for the best business phone systems, visit our best picks page.
Editor’s Note: Trying to find info on business phone systems? Use the questionnaire below and our vendor partners will contact you to offer you the information you need:
If you’re unclear yet, keep reading. We’ll fill you in on the advantages and disadvantages of all the following varieties of phone systems:
Virtual phone systems
Cloud as well as on-premises VoIP systems
Virtual Phone Systems
Virtual phone systems work by connecting an organization phone line to remote workers on his or her mobile or home phones.
These sorts of systems serve as a substantial call-forwarding solution, wherein calls are transferred to each employee’s designated phone (cell or home) each time a customer or client calls the main business number.
These systems include a variety of features, including automated receptionists, voicemail, call forwarding, call screening and on-line faxing.
Pros and cons: This sort of service allows businesses with employees working from locations besides the company’s office to offer a specialist face at all times. Furthermore, it gives remote workers usage of many different phone system features that mobile and home phones don’t offer. The downside is that virtual systems aren’t a whole-fledged phone system. Your calls are still processed on your own mobile or home phone network. Which means you are charged for your call on the virtual system and make use of up your mobile- or home-phone minutes.
Perfect for: Businesses by using a large group of remote workers, or sole-proprietor businesses.
Traditional Landline Systems
Landlines in this instance are traditional phone systems, typically backed up by a nearby or regional phone company.
Landlines, also referred to as public switched telephone networks (PSTNs), are analog systems that run via the telephone company’s traditional copper wiring.
To operate a landline service, you will need on-premises PBX hardware. This is the hardware that’s employed to create multiple extensions and enable for phone system features, including call transferring and call directories.
There are landline systems today that happen to be considered a hybrid with VoIP systems. You will discover a traditional phone line that comes to the business that connects to some business’s data network. The information network in the businesses is then utilized to connect each individual phone.
Positives and negatives: Landline systems can be a reliable, time-tested solution that many companies are comfortable using. The most significant negative of such systems is that most phone system providers are moving clear of landlines, leading them to be more challenging not just in purchase, but to repair should something break.
Ideal for: Large corporations that have the cost to purchase them and an in-house IT staff to run and maintain them. Also required for businesses without high-speed access to the internet.
VoIP Phone Systems
Instead of the copper wires that landlines employ, VoIP phone systems utilize the same web connection which a clients are already using to acquire online.
VoIP systems provide features that previously only large corporations using expensive PBX hardware had access to, such as automated attendants, call queues and computer integration that enables voicemails to be shipped to email inboxes and computers to be converted into “softphones.”
VoIP systems give remote workers access to a business’s phone system from their mobile device.
Benefits and drawbacks: VoIP systems provide a sophisticated phone system complete with all the special features. These systems are easily setup and configured, and are significantly cheaper than landline systems. The down-side, however, is that these systems depend on your internet connection. So, if you’re inside a community with spotty internet service, this type of phone system wouldn’t be right for you. [See Related Story: VoIP for Business: Why It Makes Sense]
Perfect for: Smaller businesses that want the functionality of the sophisticated phone system at the reasonable price, and companies that want their remote employees to gain access to the phone system.
Should you determine that a VoIP system will fit your needs, now you have another decision to help make. While landline systems force you to house all the necessary equipment inside of your business, VoIP systems provide you with the option to buy your equipment outright and self-host, or rent the gear from the service agency and possess the provider house it within the cloud.
On-Premises VoIP Systems
By having an on-premises system, every one of the equipment, which include the private branch exchange (PBX) hardware found it necessary to keep the phone system running, is housed inside your business.
On-premises systems demand a large capital expenditure, as you are getting the equipment upfront.
Whilst you pay one-time fees for those hardware with a self-hosted system, you have to pay fees each month for your personal SIP trunking, or PRI circuit, which happens to be what’s needed to allow calls being made and received.
Your IT staff is mainly responsible for handling maintenance, repairs and upgrades from the system.
Positives and negatives: The main benefit of an on-premises system is you will almost always be in control of your service. You are depending on yourself to ensure it is actually working and configured the method that you enjoy it. The flip side, however, is the fact that there is a significant upfront cost, since you need to buy all of the equipment. Additionally, you want someone on staff who is able to service and keep the program.
Precisely what the experts say: “Lots of our larger clients with desire for high availability, high security and customization end up getting on-premises [systems],” Beth English, founder of communications consulting firm EE & Associates and current board president in the Society of Communications Technology Consultants International, told Business News Daily. “Some large enterprise-level clients will usually choose the premises-based solution simply because they probably have the employees to support it, they require a lot of customization, or they are very concerned about privacy”
Great for: Businesses that don’t feel relaxed while using cloud and desire total control over their system and usage of equipment at all times. Also beneficial to businesses by having an in-house IT team that will set up and sustain a VoIP system. Additionally, on-premises systems are better suited for businesses with regulatory or compliance requirements that could be difficult to meet in the cloud.
Cloud-Based VoIP System
With cloud-based systems, there is not any maintenance or hardware, aside from IP phones, to be concerned about. The service agency houses, maintains and upgrades all the PBX technology to suit your needs.
The cloud offers growing businesses the opportunity to easily add new lines and gives fast access to extra features.
Businesses typically pay a monthly fee on a per-user basis.
Positives and negatives: With cloud-based systems, there is no PBX hardware or dial-tone services to acquire and look after. Your provider manages that to suit your needs. It is possible to set up and configure 09dexjpky system for the business, all through your computer. The down-side of a cloud-based system is that you simply aren’t in command of the hardware. In the event the system decreases, you have to depend upon your provider to have it fixed as quickly as possible.
Just what the experts say: “If a business does not have a big staff and lacks someone to manage its system, it is actually a really good option to complement a hosted option,” English said. “[Cloud phone solutions] get rid of the headache of getting to preserve your own phone system.”