Marty Parker
Marty Parker brings over three decades of experience in both computing solutions and communications technology. Marty has been a...
Read Full Bio >>

Marty Parker | July 31, 2012 |


UC Decision Making: Requirements or Politics?

UC Decision Making: Requirements or Politics? Sorting through all the claims and making a good decision requires understanding what the product and system integrator can and will do.

Sorting through all the claims and making a good decision requires understanding what the product and system integrator can and will do.

It may be just coincidence, but it seems to be the political season for both UC and the U.S.A. Here's the situation: After about 9 years of Unified Communications product development (the first Gartner UC Magic Quadrant was in 2003), almost all the vendors can claim to have a functional UCC solution. When the solutions are described in sales presentations, at major conferences such as Enterprise Connect, and in written RFPs, they all sound pretty much alike.

But like politics, sorting through all the claims and making a good decision requires understanding what the product and system integrator (or candidate) can and will do to address the specific requirements which you rate as the most important. Lack of clarity on your requirements will definitely leave the future up to a lot of chance, very likely with costly surprises and major disappointments.

Thus, it is critical to have your requirements clear before you go shopping for UCC solutions. It is important, too, that the management team be in agreement with those requirements and their relative importance to the business. Make sure this includes management beyond just the IT community of telecom, infrastructure and applications. It may take some effort, but future success and economic efficiency depend on getting the time with business management to have them understand the dramatic business improvements which are possible with UCC and then to participate in making the prioritizations on which your technical requirements will be based.

Here are some steps to take to make this happen:

1. Study your enterprise's strategy. You may be part of a business enterprise with goals of global growth, or of increased Internet interactions with customers and suppliers, or of major efficiencies and cost savings through reductions in travel, facilities or workflow complexity. You may be part of a public sector agency with goals of cost containment, or increased citizen self-service, or redefinition of mission and scope. Whatever the case, look for the changes your organization seeks to make in the next 5 years. Pay careful attention to those changes which will require or can benefit from improved communications technologies.

2. Understand the new UCC functions. New functionality is the basis for almost all technology-based operational improvements. UCC presents a menu of about a dozen new functions from which you can choose when designing improved solutions as suggested in step 1. Get to know the UCC menu so you can explain the leverage points to your management teams.

3. Design the UCC-based solutions, including estimated benefits. Using the information from steps 1 and 2, lay out the possible UCC-based solutions for improvements to productivity, workflows and operations, in concert with your management teams. Estimate the benefits that will be available when the solutions are in place.

4. Prioritize the available UCC-based solutions. This should be done based on the strategic importance from step 1 as well as the relative return from the benefits identified in Step 3. Also, note which employees will need to use each of the new solutions in their daily roles. In many cases, only a subset of employees will need some of the more advanced (read expensive or complex) UC functions.

5. Create your prioritized requirements list. Use the list of UCC functions needed and the priority of the solutions from step 4 to compile a prioritized (or weighted) list of necessary requirements.

This step by step approach will produce a much clearer picture of your UCC requirements than just a list of how many stations, trunks and features are on the current PBX. If that's the list of requirements, then it's a sure bet that the new UCC system will be another PBX--maybe with a new name, new brand or a few new UCC features, but very unlikely the set of functionality needed to deliver new benefits to your organization. In many cases, you will be able to meet your UCC requirements without replacing the current PBX--a much less costly approach as we learned from the Enterprise Connect 2012 RFPs.

Now, back to politics. As George Harrison paraphrased Alice in Wonderland, "If you don’t know where you're going, any road will take you there." Exactly. Without clear requirements, any vendor's presentations and promises can be interpreted as meeting the needs. Then the UCC decision process becomes a political battle between departments, managers and sometimes even executives.

With clear requirements, your RFP or RFI can ask the vendors to specify all that is needed to enable the new UCC-based solutions, including all of the customizations and integrations, installation, and support costs. We can assure you this will make the technology and services choices crystal clear.


April 19, 2017

Now more than ever, enterprise contact centers have a unique opportunity to lead the way towards complete, digital transformation. Moving your contact center to the cloud is a starting point, quick

April 5, 2017

Its no secret that the cloud offers significant benefits to enterprises - including cost reduction, scalability, higher efficiency, and more flexibility. If your phone system and contact center are

March 22, 2017

As today's competitive business environments push workforces into overdrive, many enterprises are seeking ways of streamlining workflows while optimizing productivity, business agility, and speed.

April 20, 2017
Robin Gareiss, president of Nemertes Research, shares insight gleaned from the firm's 12th annual UCC Total Cost of Operations study.
March 23, 2017
Tim Banting, of Current Analysis, gives us a peek into what the next three years will bring in advance of his Enterprise Connect session exploring the question: Will there be a new model for enterpris....
March 15, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, discusses the evolving role of the all-important session border controller.
March 9, 2017
Organizer Alan Quayle gives us the lowdown on programmable communications and all you need to know about participating in this pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon.
March 3, 2017
From protecting against new vulnerabilities to keeping security assessments up to date, security consultant Mark Collier shares tips on how best to protect your UC systems.
February 24, 2017
UC analyst Blair Pleasant sorts through the myriad cloud architectural models underlying UCaaS and CCaaS offerings, and explains why knowing the differences matter.
February 17, 2017
From the most basics of basics to the hidden gotchas, UC consultant Melissa Swartz helps demystify the complex world of SIP trunking.
February 7, 2017
UC&C consultant Kevin Kieller, a partner at enableUC, shares pointers for making the right architectural choices for your Skype for Business deployment.
February 1, 2017
Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares a status report on the UCaaS market today and offers her perspective on what large enterprises need before committing to UC in the cloud.
January 26, 2017
Andrew Davis, co-founder of Wainhouse Research and chair of the Video track at Enterprise Connect 2017, sorts through the myriad cloud video service options and shares how to tell if your choice is en....
January 23, 2017
Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center/Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2017, tells us what we need to know about the role cloud software is playing in contact centers today.