The key to determining which path to take very much depends upon three things: the customer's business operations, current phone system and budget.
VoIP phone systems offer a wide range of features that can enhance productivity, reach-ability and efficiency for a business. Some of these features, such as unified communications and sophisticated call routing, work a lot better when directly built in rather than integrated with an existing PBX. Therefore it is important to first know what features work better in a pure VoIP environment versus a hybrid one. After that, you must find which features yield the most benefit to a particular business operation and rank them accordingly. In general, the more complicated the business's phone system needs, the better candidate they are for an all-VoIP solution.
The company's current phone system naturally plays a large role in the decision of whether to propose a PBX replacement. Will the existing PBX even be able to integrate with a VoIP subsystem if you wanted it to, and if so, with the necessary capacity? Further, understanding what the current phone system can and cannot do is important, because only a small portion of the features a prospect needs requires VoIP-based technologies. Through this exercise you not only determine what technical options you have available to you, but can provide better justification for making a decision one way or another.
Finally, the customer's budget may play a big role in the decision. Price-sensitive companies will often be reluctant to replace their "perfectly fine" phone system with a new one. This is a case where adding VoIP is attractive because it can yield some of the most useful features of VoIP while providing a migration path to the new PBX technology as their old PBX ages. On the other hand, with customers who are not as price sensitive, there is an opportunity to sell the value of a pure VoIP system that eliminates the complication of integrating the two communications systems.
In general, the most important factor to consider when recommending a PBX replacement versus an addition is how one PBX or VoIP solution will provide more value to that particular customer than the other.
This was first published in April 2008