Whether your organization is putting unified communications capabilities in place for the first time, or you already have UC features are are just looking to upgrade, it's imperative to have a plan of action in place. This plan is your business's UC strategy, and you can turn to this roadmap to help you address user needs, ensure your technology choices align with your budget and the best approaches for achieving a full return on investment.
However, the UC sector – not to mention all the moving parts that come into play within each individual business – can be somewhat complex. There are numerous decisions to make when it comes to selecting the right capabilities and meeting the requirements of your individual company.
Let's take a look at some of the most important considerations to include as you and your communication and technology stakeholders develop your business's UC strategy:
1) Start with your end users and work backwards
One of the most critical, yet most often overlooked parts of an enterprise UC strategy isn't the UC capabilities themselves, but the UX – the user experience. If users don't fully understand or aren't happy with the features available through your company's UC solutions, they may turn to shadow IT processes to bridge the gap. This not only puts your organization's sensitive data and communications at risk for security breaches, but prevents you from gleaning the best ROI from UC solutions.
You and your UC stakeholders should start by closely examining the needs and preferences of your users. Taking a look at the tools employees currently use, identifying gaps in functionality and addressing other user requirements is a good place to begin.
As UC Today contributor Rebekah Carter pointed out, this process will likely provide a variety of insights, according to user's individual roles in the company.
"There's a good chance that different enterprise employees in your network will need different tools to support their day-to-date operations," Carter wrote. "C-level executives might need video conferencing services for instance, while call center agents benefit from instant messaging."
In this way, it's imperative to consider the needs that exist across your workforce to ensure that employees have the tools and communications support they require.
2) Leverage use cases to determine benefits
Particularly when it comes to selecting the actual capabilities that will make up the holistic UC solution, it's important that stakeholders think about the types of benefits they would like to see from its use.
Considering end user needs and use cases represents an advantageous start. But it can also be helpful to think in terms of tangible benefits, as TechTarget noted. These tangible benefits can include:
- Boosted access to important resources as supported by cloud UC.
- Increased security that comes with individual user credentials as part of UC technology.
- Ability to support streamlined collaboration among remote or geographically separate co-workers through the use of tools like file sharing, video conferencing, live messaging and online presence.
- Operating cost savings associated with using a complete UC solution as opposed to several, disparate platforms.
Mapping out the tangible benefits the company is looking to achieve helps inform decisions about which technologies to include, as well as the ways in which the business can ensure robust ROI.
3) Ensure network preparedness
An investment in top-notch UC technology is important, but perhaps more imperative is the underlying network's ability to support these solutions. A network that doesn't provide the necessary capacity can lead to performance and usability problems like jitter and packet loss, which can severely hamper overall use of UC tools and prevent a full ROI.
For these reasons, it's critical that decision-makers include IT admins, and work to ensure that the network can handle the demands of the new UC features. Making the necessary IT investments and adjustments ahead of time will translate to a more streamlined integration and deployment process.
"Think about your existing infrastructure and how it will need to change to support a UC rollout," Carter wrote. "Your servers, routers and data connections need to be able to handle increased traffic loads – particularly if you're planning on [adding] additional users to the system at a later point."
4) Build in time for the user learning curve
Whether you're expanding or updating your existing UC or putting an entirely new system in place, it's imperative to remember that it will take your employees some time to get used to the platform and all of its capabilities. For this reason, stakeholders should be sure to include time for users to explore the new UC solutions and consider offering training sessions to explain some of the more complex features.
Overlooking this crucial period can have considerably negative results, particularly when it comes to overall usage and ROI. It's important to keep in mind that users will need some time to explore, discover and acclimate to the advanced UC features. Taking this time could mean the difference between a valuable UC investment that provides productivity and collaboration benefits, or one that falls flat with users.
Your UC strategy is an essential element to the successful implementation and rollout of your new UC technology. No matter if you're a new organization just dipping your toe in the UC waters, or an established enterprise that's been leveraging UC for years – when it comes time to build out your system, it's imperative to include certain considerations and map a plan of action.
To find out more about best practices for your UC strategy, as well as the most impactful UC features to incorporate, connect with the experts at Teo Technologies today.