Gary Audin
Gary Audin is the President of Delphi, Inc. He has more than 40 years of computer, communications and security...
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Gary Audin | September 23, 2011 |


UC Gotchas

UC Gotchas The importance of QoS, user training, and IT organizational issues.

The importance of QoS, user training, and IT organizational issues.

"UC is not for everyone. Some companies see it as collaboration overkill, while others see it as the missing bridge across voice, video, and messaging that leads to cost savings and productivity gains. For the UC believers, this article assumes you've cleared the ROI hurdle (This is not easy to compute). Now it's time for implementation and there are plenty of ways these projects can fail, ranging from poor initial planning to employee resistance to networks that aren’t ready to handle the load."

This is the first paragraph in a recent Network Computing article by Jim Rapoza, "UC Gotchas". "How to Make the Case for UC" is the second article in this issue. The Gotchas article presents lessons learned from five different implementations of UC projects.

UC implementation will overlap multiple groups within IT; applications, networking, telecom, operations and business continuity. The larger the implementing organization, the more likely it is that multiple organizational silos will be encountered in the implementing enterprise. To overcome these potential divisions, strong IT leadership will be required.

A common issue with all five enterprises in the article is the ability of their networks to support the QoS required for real time voice and video traffic. Supporting text traffic like e-mail and IM does not call for QoS, so QoS is a new capability for the networks to satisfy.

A second problem is user training. It is not enough to present the UC tools and expect the users to automatically embrace them. The UC tools may look cool but not every user has the imagination to use the tools effectively. Training should encompass many usage scenarios coupled with how these tools will benefit the user. The UC tools have to be sold to the user. There should also be online interactive training modules that are short and easily accessed, especially for the tools that are used less frequently. Ensure that enough is budgeted for training.

Do not assume once the training is performed that this will be the end. In some cases, the user should be introduced to the UC tools in stages. Once the users have mastered the initial tools, then an advanced training session should be held. The concept is to have the user access the tools intuitively rather than have to review the procedures for using the tool before its operation.

The Gotchas article listed four useful tips that successful UC programs share:

* IT works with line-of-business teams to define key goals, thus aligning business process and technical requirements.

* Everyone is realistic about IT's capabilities. A project to retire a legacy PBX and integrate voice mail and e-mail is far less complex an undertaking than marrying social networking, mobility and communications enabled business processes (CEBP).

* Network limitations get acknowledged and addressed. UC almost always involves blending multivendor hardware and software with the attendant integration land mines.

* IT tests [the implementation] early, often and thoroughly. Going live before you know everything works squanders employee interest and IT’s credibility.(In a multi-silo IT organization, this can lead to a blame game that significantly retards the resolution of the problems.)

Seven insights can be gleaned from the Gotchas article:

* Employee contact information should be organized in a database so it can be pushed into other systems such as Active Directory, Lotus Notes and UC systems.

* Administering more than one network creates headaches. Create only one network.

* Weak training leads to few UC tools actually being used by the intended end users, thereby defeating the ROI.

* Don't force everyone into a single endpoint solution. Some may want to use a headset with their PC. Others may prefer a handset.

* Allow multiple users to share common endpoints but distinguish the users by password. This is the better solution when users do not have a dedicated desk, such as on a manufacturing floor.

* Watch out for older facilities that may be difficult to upgrade to UC. Consider wireless as well as wired solutions where the cost or impact of a wired solution is significant.

* For those enterprises that want to avoid capital outlays, a cloud based service is attractive. Cloud implementation does not, however, mean trouble free implementation, especially with the initial configuration.

As the Gotchas article states, "Done right, UC can cut costs and improve productivity. But heed the lessons of these earlier implementers".


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