A lot of businesses are (or are considering) migrating their on-premise systems and applications from on-premise to the cloud – everything from ERPs to desktops. And phone systems are no exception.

This is particularly true for smaller and mid-sized businesses entering growth stages, who are looking for flexibility and scalability, reduced operational costs and an ability to support hybrid and remote working models.

Like any major migration project, moving to a cloud phone system can be a complex and resource-heavy operation. However, if approached and planned correctly and backed up by the right expertise and support, migrating to cloud phone systems can be a smooth transition that can deliver benefits straight away.

Here we have put together some key information about migrating to cloud phone systems, including a step-by-step checklist to ensure your migration is planned and executed for success.

On-premise vs. cloud phone systems

There is nothing wrong with a well-functioning on-premise phone system – but it does take some effort to keep them working optimally. Installation, maintenance, and management of hardware, servers, and phones – which usually falls to already busy internal IT teams – continuous, not to mention regular updates and upgrades. This can be expensive – both financially and time-wise.

Alternatively, cloud phone systems are hosted on the provider’s servers and accessed over the internet, eliminating the need to install and maintain a lot of physical hardware on-site. The service provider manages the system’s maintenance, upgrades, and scalability, freeing up internal resources and compiling costs into one service fee.

The main benefits most businesses usually report after moving to a cloud phone system are:

  • Lower operational costs
  • More flexibility and scalability
  • Reduced reliance on internal management
  • Higher quality service and up-to-date features

While cloud phone systems offer numerous benefits, the choice between on-premise and cloud depends on a business’s specific needs, including size, industry, regulatory compliance requirements, and the ability to manage IT resources. Cloud phone systems can be particularly beneficial for small to medium-sized businesses looking for flexibility, cost efficiency, and the ability to easily scale as they grow.

Your cloud phone system migration checklist

If you’ve decided to move forward with migrating to a cloud phone system – or even if you’re just considering it – this checklist outlines every step you need to take to make sure the migration is timely, affordable, and successful.

Phase 1: Pre-planning

  1. Define your objectives and goals
    • Identify the specific reasons for migrating to cloud phone systems
    • Set clear objectives and measurable goals for the migration project

What is it about your current setup that isn’t working for your business, or what sort of advantages do you want to achieve with a cloud phone system? To ensure you make the right decision and achieve and outcome that will deliver benefits for your business, it’s vital to set goals before you begin.

  1. Assess budget availability
    • Determine the budget available for the migration
    • Estimate costs associated with the migration process, including licensing, hardware replacement, and any additional services

Migration costs can vary considerably, depending on factors like your business size, needs, and objectives. To avoid spending too much, you’ll want to determine the budget available for the project and approximate costs, ensuring they align, before you commit to the migration. If you work with an IT provider during the migration, they will be able to help you determine costs.

  1. Select a cloud phone system provider

Research and choose a reputable cloud phone system provider that aligns with your organisation’s needs and goals. When considering your options, it’s essential to evaluate factors such as features, scalability, and reliability. One of the most notable and popular cloud phone system providers you should explore is Microsoft Teams.

Microsoft Teams is a versatile communication and collaboration platform that offers integrated cloud phone system capabilities. It is highly recognised for delivering a wide suite of benefits for users, including:

    • Features: Microsoft Teams offers a comprehensive suite of communication features, including voice and video calling, chat, screen sharing, and collaboration tools. Assess how these features align with your organisation’s communication requirements.
    • Integration: As part of the Microsoft 365 ecosystem, Teams seamlessly integrates with other Microsoft applications like Outlook, SharePoint, and OneDrive. This integration can enhance productivity and streamline workflows for your organisation.
    • Scalability: Microsoft Teams is suitable for businesses of all sizes, from small enterprises to large corporations. Ensure that it can scale to accommodate your organisation’s growth and changing needs.
    • Reliability: Microsoft is known for its robust infrastructure and commitment to uptime. Investigate the reliability and uptime history of Microsoft Teams to ensure uninterrupted communication for your organisation.

While considering Microsoft Teams, also explore other cloud phone system providers to make an informed decision that best serves your organisation’s specific requirements. This thorough evaluation will help you choose the right solution to support your migration from on-premises to the cloud phone system effectively.

  1. Assess current Infrastructure
    • Document your existing on-premises phone system setup
    • Identify hardware and software components that can be repurposed or integrated into the new cloud-based solution
  1. Inventory Phone Numbers and Extensions
    • Compile a list of all phone numbers and extensions in use
    • Decide which numbers need to be ported to the new cloud phone system and which can be retired

Phase 2: Implementation

  1. Create a migration team
    • Assemble a dedicated migration team with representatives from IT, telecoms, and end-users
    • Assign roles and responsibilities to team members

It’s vital to have not only buy-in from the wider team, but champions within each team to drive the project forward. While some might hold technical roles, others will be responsible for communications, updates, and/or training.

  1. Develop a migration timeline
    • Create a detailed project plan with milestones and deadlines
    • Ensure that the timeline allows for thorough testing and training
  1. Data backup and security
    • Back up all critical data related to your on-premises phone system
    • Implement security measures to protect sensitive information during the migration
  1. Port phone numbers
    • Coordinate with your cloud phone system provider to initiate the porting process for phone numbers
    • Monitor the progress to ensure a seamless transition
  1. Install and configure hardware
    • If necessary, install and configure any new hardware required for the cloud phone system
    • Test hardware functionality before proceeding

Phase 3: Testing and training

  1. Conduct system testing
    • Thoroughly test all aspects of the new cloud phone system, including call routing, voicemail, and conferencing
    • Identify and resolve any issues or discrepancies
  1. End-user training
    • Provide comprehensive training to employees on using the new cloud phone system
    • Offer resources and support to address user questions and concerns

Phase 4: Post-Migration

  1. Monitor performance
    • Continuously monitor the performance of the cloud phone system after migration
    • Address any performance issues promptly
  1. Evaluate and adjust
    • Review the migration project to assess whether goals and objectives were met
    • Make adjustments and improvements as necessary
  1. Document the migration
    • Create detailed documentation of the migration process, configurations, and settings
    • Maintain records for future reference and audits

A successful migration requires the right expertise

There’s no doubt that cloud phone systems can provide businesses with numerous benefits that on-premise systems might not be able to. What these benefits are and how much value they deliver to your business will depend on how well thought out your migration plan and execution are.

Migrating from an on-premise system to a cloud phone system can be a resource-intensive exercise, particularly for your internal IT team, who will need to do the brunt of the work. This can be a risky undertaking – especially if your internal team don’t have the expertise or experience in these kinds of projects. It can also leave the rest of the business with interruptions and delays as IT focuses on the migration.

Some IT providers, like VITG, offer migration and management support for cloud phone systems. Working with an outsourced provider can ensure you have the right expertise and the right number of resources for a successful migration, without compromising your internal IT.

VITG’s Unified Communications as a Services (UCaaS) offering enables you to upgrade from your on-premise PABX phone system to a cloud-based PABX system with the support of experts. We can assist with your migration, ensuring it goes off without a hitch, and then provide ongoing support and management of your cloud phone system.

For more information about cloud phone systems, check out our comprehensive guide here. For more information on our UCaaS service, visit our website.

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