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Tiers of Phone Service

As enterprises move to an ITIL-based services model, offering different tiers of service is critical in striking the balance between cost, features, quality, and delivery. Typically, most organizations will offer just one standard type of phone service. As questions arise around hard vs. soft phones, mobile vs. fixed networks, and company vs. user owned devices, moving to a 3 tiered service model will offer the flexibility to meet different business requirements. The tiers are:Tier 1: Basic--Just the basic functionality, an SLA of 99%, and as low cost as possible. Provisioning should be automated via a web site and support is non-real time, like email. Soft phones, telephony via the Internet, and user owned mobile devices with a fixed reimbursement plan are examples of low cost solutions that provide the base functionality.

Tier 2: Standard--Base functionality with additional features offered a-la-carte, an SLA of 99.9+% and support that is available during regular business hours. Standard provisioning time of a week with an expedite option. A hard phone with speaker and headset, 1 button voicemail access, "toll" quality audio, and a company provided standard smart phone are examples of meeting most business requirements. A-la-carte features could include follow-me call routing and unified messaging.

Tier 3: Deluxe--Enhanced functionality for the high end phone user with 24/7/365 support, regular hardware and/or software updates, and SLA of 99.99%. Executives and their administrative assistants, mobile sales folks, and international travelers are powers uses of phone services and keeping the telephony costs manageable while providing all the bells and whistles with real time support requires a premium support model.

All new services and features are first offered in the deluxe tier, and over time as they mature and the costs go down, they get moved into the standard tier, and then into the basic tier. The tiered model applies to all IT services, and phone service was just an example. Expecting one vendor to provide all services is delusional in the unified communication space. This is one reason why IT organizations are moving from technology to service based groups. The constant demand for personalization, greater functionality, and lower costs will continue, but by providing tiers of service, most IT organizations should be able to meet most business demands, most of the time.