The migration of voice and collaboration services to the cloud is a matter of when—not if. For many that haven’t made this transition already, the pace of moving to the cloud has been greatly accelerated with the WFH requirements thrust upon businesses by COVID-19.
Companies that didn’t have a cloud voice plan on their roadmap have found that the decision was recently made for them, and the experience was not as fraught with danger as they may have originally feared. As a result, companies are now making the cloud pivot and or looking to make a temporary, promotion aided cloud solution more permanent.
It’s important to note this decision may come with a few challenges. Here are some you may encounter with a cloud solution:
Fees and Taxes – These rarely get disclosed in the sales process, and they aren’t insignificant. You should add at least 30% to the proposed per user license cost. Some providers even include a “cost recovery” fee, which is essentially baked in profit. Getting this information up front in the sales process can be a challenge. Insist the cloud provider provide a copy of a sample invoice for your review.
DID numbers – These are critical. Who owns the telephone numbers? If you don’t have a clear written stipulation that you can take the telephone numbers with you when you decide to change platforms at term end—you may have a potential battle on your hands.
– Your contract will likely include clauses indemnifying the provider for mismanaged E911 calls, a big challenge with mobile, remote workers. And they may be right, they may not be liable in the event of a problem, but you may be. Recent legislation
of Kari’s Law and the Ray Baum Act require specific functionality that is far more complex than a simple technology fix. You must have a clear plan and strategy in place in the event of an emergency call. Failure to do so could open you up to a sizable liability claim.
Deployment strategy – If you haven’t deployed a telephony platform in the last 10 or so years, you may be surprised at the DIY approach favored by many cloud providers. The “white glove” approach of the past included dedicated project managers, technical resources, trainers, and a lot of handholding. If that model is substantial to your organization, you had better make sure that your expectations are factored (and priced into) the scope of work (SOW). Beyond that, make sure your provider is even capable of providing more than lip service. It would be prudent to check with a few references to see about “lessons learned.”
Pricing flexibility – What is the process for adding or removing users? Is there a minimum revenue commitment? Most venders can be flexible in this area if you ask. I saw one contract that was for a three-year term. Every added license came with its own three-year term. So, as you would add users over the next few years, you end up with a multitude of mini three-year contracts. Good luck extricating yourself from that engagement.
Performance clause – Most cloud solutions won’t offer uptime service-level agreements (SLA) equivalent to that of a premise-based system, and will be in the form of credits to your account. That won’t help much when explaining to the CEO why you were out of service for eight hours, or why you’ve had intermittent audio issues for the past three months. Insist on a toothy performance clause and begin the project with a partial proof of concept for a selected group of users. If you do end up with performance issues, document them carefully, and communicate clearly with the provider. That paper trail will be key in any non-performance discussions.
Autorenewal – Some contracts will auto-renew at the original term if you don’t notify the provider specifically, sometimes 90 days before the end of the term. Ideally, you want to revert to a month-to-month engagement at this time, as you sort out your options. You also want to able to modify the quantities and revenue commitment at that time to avoid paying two providers for too long during a transition. Be clear up front about what your options are.
Virtual desktop – Some providers may require a thick client loaded on a user’s computer. If you operate, or plan to utilize a virtual desktop environment, make sure you cover this (in writing) with your provider.
So, while there are many advantages to moving to the cloud, one needs to be diligent in the process. You may have to overcome some obstacles, but there are ways to leap over them.
"SCTC Perspective" is written by members of the Society of Communications Technology Consultants, an international organization of independent information and communications technology professionals serving clients in all business sectors and government worldwide.
Knowing the challenges many enterprises are facing during COVID-19, the SCTC is offering to qualified members of the Enterprise Connect user community a limited, pro bono consulting engagement, approximately 2 - 4 hours, including a small discovery, analysis, and a deliverable. This engagement will be strictly voluntary, with no requirement for the user/client to continue beyond this initial engagement. For more information or to apply, please visit us here.