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How Do You Budget for a UCaaS Solution?


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A UCaaS solution provider may have quoted you a cost per seat. But don’t stop catering to your expenses there, or you won’t capture the whole picture. There are many components to factor in to arrive at your final numbers, but you should primarily consider these four:
Licenses. Regarding the monthly cost per user, you may have different levels of licensing, each with a separate expense. Be sure to include costs for power users, which are typically higher, and common area phones that are usually less expensive (but often overlooked in the license counts). Some providers have an extra charge for collaboration tools, while others include these tools in the seat licenses. If you need these capabilities, make sure their cost is included or factored into your analysis.
Connectivity. Essentially, this is the cost of connecting to the cloud. There are multiple options here, so you may have to think broadly to capture all of the costs. Examples include:
  • Internet connection
  • Backup connection
  • Appliances or gateways
  • Software or management tools
  • PSTN access (if you provide the connection)
  • Local and long-distance calling charges
  • Home internet for remote workers (if company-paid)
Devices. Desk phones are the evident device to include in your budget. Less obvious, but often necessary, are those such as headsets and webcams. USB wired headsets can be very inexpensive. But wireless headsets that support multiple devices can cost as much, or even more, than a desk phone. Don’t forget to factor in these costs.
Other charges. Significant charges for DID numbers, 911 services, taxes, fees, and surcharges usually aren’t included in vendor quotes. These can add up to 20 to 35 percent of your overall monthly cost. The best way to get an accurate number for these costs is to see an actual bill from the service provider. It isn’t always easy, so be prepared to press them on this.
Hidden Costs
Often there are additional costs to deploy a solution. These should be factored into your analysis as well. These might include:
  • Cost of training your support staff
  • Cost of internal resources required for onboarding users or a new solution
  • Asset tracking and shipping costs
  • Configuration changes
  • Device upgrades or changes (do you need more laptops for remote workers)?
  • Costs associated with existing services. Be aware of existing contracts, when they expire, if they automatically renew, and whether there could be termination penalties if you cancel services early.
Potential Budget Busters
Here are some items that can throw a wrench into your budgeting numbers if you don’t take them into account:
  • Contact center costs and call recording solutions can vary widely based on your requirements. There can be add on capabilities, such as workforce management, and quality assurance, that can change your costs, as well. This area requires investigation and careful documentation of your requirements to determine accurate budget projections. Cost per seat can vary from $60/month to $300/month, depending on the contact center needs.
  • If you’re moving to a cloud solution and aren’t already in a VOIP environment, you must ensure that your infrastructure and network configuration are ready to support VOIP. This is one of the biggest gotchas when moving to VOIP or cloud for the first time. Switch upgrades may be required, and implementing Quality of Service (QoS) and e-911 can be time-consuming.
  • Don’t forget to include the costs of analog devices and faxes. You’ll need adaptors or gateways to convert them to IP, or you can move to a fax server. In my experience, there are always more of these things than you think there will be.
  • There may be a cost for getting rid of your existing system, so be sure to include decommissioning costs in your budget.


Possible Savings
There may be opportunities for savings, as well, which can be used to cost-justify some of your projects, which include:
  • Services you no longer need, such as audio-conferencing services or circuits between sites. Additionally, as your usage of collaboration applications increases, your usage of PSTN services may likely decrease as the traffic shifts. That means you should analyze your traffic and see if you can cut back on the amount of PSTN services for which you are paying.
  • Moving to a centralized SIP trunking environment if you haven’t done so already, as this can save a lot of money.
  • Using videoconferencing to reduce travel.
  • Reducing real estate costs with remote workers
  • Choosing a cloud solution where you won’t be paying for a maintenance contract on your existing equipment.
  • Moving to VOIP, so you no longer have to maintain separate cabling and infrastructure for voice and data. Users may be able to move phones themselves, saving your staff time.
By saving time, you may be able to repurpose your staff for other work.
To summarize, accurate budgeting involves more than the cost of the licenses themselves. Be sure to include the costs of connectivity, devices, and the other charges such as DID numbers, 911 services, taxes, fees, and surcharges. Don’t forget to include potential savings and hidden costs. Take time for due diligence to avoid budget busters. If you want help, you can always engage an independent, experienced consultant to assist you in the process.

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"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.