Steps to Implement a VoIP Business Phone System

If you’re looking to upgrade your business communications, implementing a Voice over IP (VoIP) phone system is one of the best decisions you can make. VoIP systems utilize the internet to make and receive calls, unlocking a wide array of advanced features while also dramatically reducing your phone bill costs.

Making the switch to VoIP can seem daunting at first, but it doesn’t have to be.

Follow this step-by-step guide, and you’ll be well on your way to enjoying crystal clear call quality, powerful productivity features, and substantial cost savings with a modern business VoIP phone system.

Assess Your Business Phone Needs

Before choosing a VoIP provider or phone system, you need to have a clear understanding of your business’s unique communications needs. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • How many phone extensions or lines do you require?
  • What kinds of hardware phones do you want for your office – desktop models, conference speakerphones, cordless DECT phones?
  • What features are most important: call recording, auto-attendants, mobile apps, visual voicemail?
  • Do you want to integrate phone with important business software like CRM or help desk?
  • How much are you currently spending on your phone system and calls? What’s your monthly usage in minutes?

By clearly defining your must-have features, call volume, and budget, you’ll be equipped to choose the ideal VoIP solution for your business. The more details you can gather at this stage, the better.

Research Top Providers and Plans

With your requirements in mind, start researching VoIP providers and plans. Focus first on the major nationwide business VoIP providers like RingCentral, Nextiva, 8×8, Ooma Office, Grasshopper, Vonage Business Cloud, Dialpad, and others. Visit their websites, examine available packages and pricing, and make notes about the offerings that seem to best align with your needs and priorities.

Pay particular attention to:

  • Core features: Does the provider offer the must-have capabilities you’re looking for?
  • Scalability: Can you easily add or remove extensions and phones as your team grows?
  • Call quality: Look for providers that advertise HD voice and modern call routing for optimal audio.
  • Reliability: Check for uptime guarantees, service level agreements, and redundancies.
  • Support: What support channels does the provider offer – phone, email, chat, community forum? Are they available 24/7?
  • Reputation: Search online for customer reviews and feedback about the provider.

As you evaluate VoIP solutions, you’ll likely find a few top contenders that warrant further exploration. Reach out to those providers to request demos, free trials, or custom quotes. Comparing these quotes side-by-side will shed light on the best value.

Choose Your VoIP System

With quotes in hand from the leading providers in your mix, the time comes to make a decision. Weigh factors like available features, voice quality, implementation experience, customer support, and ongoing costs to select the optimal system for your business.

Run the quotes by key stakeholders at your company to get their input. Loop in your IT personnel to vet the implementation, training, and management processes offered by each prospective vendor. Choose the VoIP solution that checks all of your boxes and has the strongest reviews from current customers.

Once you’ve selected your new VoIP phone system, it’s time to prepare for a smooth implementation.

Get Your Hardware: Leasing vs Buying Phones

Another decision you’ll need to make when implementing a VoIP phone system is whether to lease phones from your VoIP provider or purchase them outright. Many leading business VoIP providers like RingCentral and Nextiva offer flexible device leasing programs. Under a lease, you’ll pay a monthly fee per device to use the VoIP phones rather than a large upfront capital expenditure.

Leasing VoIP phones comes with several potential benefits. It keeps costs predictable with a fixed monthly rate, rather than a major one-time phone purchase. Leased devices are under full replacement warranty, so the provider will ship new phones if anything fails. You can routinely upgrade to the latest VoIP phones and tap into new features. There’s also no need to resell devices down the road when scaling back.

With a lease, you won’t own the phones outright. Monthly fees add up over time compared to buying. And you’ll need to return devices if canceling service. If customizing hardware is crucial or you foresee significant employee turnover, purchasing VoIP phones you can reprovision may be preferential.

Consider which model best aligns with your budget, use case and tech strategy before opting to lease through your provider or buy phones upfront.

Considerations for Multi-Location Setups

Does your business span across multiple office locations? Multi-site VoIP deployment brings added complexity. You’ll need to interconnect your locations through private links, VPN tunnels or MPLS networking. This allows users across sites to dial extensions, transfer calls, leverage unified messaging and more.

Examine WAN connectivity between locations to ensure adequate QoS policies and bandwidth priority for VoIP traffic. You may require SD-WAN or other networking upgrades to deliver reliable call quality.

For organizations with dozens of sites or global presence, a hosted VoIP solution often makes most sense. This centers control in the cloud rather than an on-premises system at each office. Users connect to the same cloud phone system via local internet links optimized for VoIP.

With planning and proper configuration, a multi-location setup can deliver the full benefits of VoIP across dispersed offices and teams.

Get Your Office Ready

To ensure a successful VoIP rollout, you’ll need to get your office ready with the necessary internet connectivity, wired and wireless networks, electrical, and equipment.

Internet bandwidth is the most critical element. Inadequate bandwidth can lead to poor call quality, lag, static, delays, and drops. VoIP phones typically require 100-200 kbps of bandwidth per call. For a 10-person office, you may need at least a 50 Mbps fiber optic or high-speed cable internet connection. Work with your IT team to perform speed tests and upgrade your internet if needed.

Your local area networks should also be modernized to handle VoIP traffic. Switches, routers, WiFi, ethernet cabling, and CAT ports may need to be added or improved. Strong wireless coverage is key if you’ll be using cordless VoIP phones.

Now is also the time to map out where VoIP phones, conference units, and related hardware will reside. Have electricians install additional outlets as needed. The more planning you do now, the smoother your phones will come online later.

Train Your Team

With the physical space prepped, focus next on getting your employees ready to use the new phone system. Quality training ensures people understand how to use call features, personalize settings, access voicemail, conference, transfer, put calls on hold, and take full advantage of the platform.

Most providers include baseline training as part of implementation. Take them up on training offers like:

  • Virtual webinars and demos
  • On-site walkthroughs
  • Dedicated session to build call flows
  • Quick start guides and videos
  • Cheat sheets

Identify power users at your company who can participate in more technical admin training and champion the system internally. The more trained your users are, the greater the adoption and satisfaction.

Port Your Phone Numbers

One of the final steps is porting your existing business phone numbers over to the new VoIP system. Number porting allows you to maintain the same numbers that customers already know and call.

The process is simple. First, create accounts with the VoIP provider for each of your numbers you wish to port. Have your recent phone bills on hand, as providers will need your account number and other details from your bills to initiate the ports.

The provider will then submit the port requests to your old phone company. Ports can take anywhere from a few hours to 10 business days depending on your local exchange carrier. Keep lines active with your old provider during this time to avoid missing calls. Add new VoIP numbers as needed in the interim.

With some diligent planning, you can typically port all your old numbers over to VoIP in just one weekend.

Set Up Your Phones and Features

At last, it’s time for the fun part – setting up your new VoIP phones and configuring all your features!

Start by connecting handsets and installing any required software or mobile apps. Plug pre-configured desktop VoIP phones into power and ethernet. Connect cordless models to power and your WiFi network.

From the admin console, customize your virtual phone system by setting up:

  • Auto-attendant greetings
  • Call queues
  • Voicemail to email
  • Ring groups
  • Call forwarding
  • And more…

Use this opportunity to streamline your call and message routing into a seamless workflow. took advantage of all that VoIP has to offer.

Integrate Your System with Existing Tools

To get the most out of your new VoIP system, you’ll want to integrate it with other key business platforms like CRM, help desk, ERP or marketing automation. Top providers make it easy to connect VoIP directly to leading tools like Salesforce, Zendesk, Microsoft Dynamics or HubSpot.

VoIP integration empowers features like click-to-call, call logging, lead and contact popping, and more. For example, sales reps can automatically log calls in Salesforce through VoIP call syncing. Customer service teams can see the CRM profile of incoming callers with screen pops.

If integrating with proprietary or niche software tools, many VoIP platforms offer open APIs and webhooks to build custom apps and connections. Your IT team can likely handle these integrations, or work with the VoIP provider to facilitate.

With some technical elbow grease, you can achieve valuable unified communications through connecting your VoIP phone system into your core business platforms. This takes advantage of VoIP in tandem with your existing technology stack.

Go Live!

Once your new business VoIP system is set up and fully customized, it’s go time! Coordinate timing with any number porting to ensure seamless uptime.

Broadcast the launch to employees so they are ready to start leveraging the new phones and features. Make an exciting first call and celebrate the advancement. Share the rollout on social media to get the word out externally as well.

Be available to provide extra support to users in the initial days after go-live. Identify any hiccups quickly and troubleshoot. With proper planning and training, you’ll likely enjoy a smooth transition.

Optimize and Evolve

The work doesn’t stop once your VoIP system is live. In the first weeks and months, continuously look for ways to optimize your system and usage for maximum efficiency. Monitor performance, identify lingering issues, and make tweaks to improve the experience.

Also plan for evolution. One benefit of VoIP is the ability to easily scale and adapt the system as your business grows and changes. Evaluate new features, add or change phones, and modify your call flows over time. VoIP can dynamically align to your needs as you expand to new markets or office locations.

With this step-by-step guide, you have all the key steps to successfully implement VoIP for your growing business. The investment will pay dividends for years to come through enhanced capabilities and cost savings.

Ready to upgrade? Discover our top-rated business VoIP providers to find the perfect phone system for your needs today!

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