This blog first appeared on Best in UC.
It’s easy to compare the up-front prices of unified communications (UC) solutions. But the true costs are much more complex – and have more variation than you might think. An educated choice should include an analysis of the total cost of ownership for various options.
The up-front cost of a phone system only represents 25 percent of the total cost of owning the system over eight to 12 years. As a result, a phone system that costs a bit more on the front end might actually create significant long-term savings for an entire decade.
ShoreTel provides the optimum example of a UC solution with low total cost of ownership. Several strategies have come together to create this advantage. First, ShoreTel does not rely on servers. This means that every three to five years, ShoreTel clients don’t have to go through the typical server refresh at a cost of thousands. A ShoreTel system with up to 220 phones uses a single switch, which takes up one rack of space in a server room. The switches run at under 30 watts, making them very low-power. This means less stress on IT hardware cooling systems, as well as a lower impact on battery backups.
Ongoing support and upgrades can also have a large effect on total cost of ownership. Unlike other UC solutions, ShoreTel’s support plan includes free major upgrades. Every client is offered new features at no additional cost, which can mean a savings of thousands over the years.
Reliability also contributes to the total cost of ownership. In the case of ShoreTel, the system’s architecture provides a level of redundancy and reliability that’s simply not possible on a server-based system. For just $3,000, a customer can purchase a backup switch that provides a fail-safe for any switch across the organization’s entire network. In other words, a piece of backup equipment is not needed at each physical site.
Deployment and ongoing changes to the system create another cost of ownership. At any company with a phone system, multiple staff members need to know how to add extensions, delete extensions, and perform other changes. For complex phone systems, this may require a day or more of paid training. In contrast, the ShoreTel system offers a level of simplicity unmatched by other products. No formal training is required, which means lower bills for the organization. Plus, when the system is initially installed, the customer can immediately begin making changes – without the services of a vendor and the extra expenses that entails.
When you go shopping for a UC solution, take these factors into consideration. Don’t let a short-term price tag overshadow the thousands of dollars you can save over the next decade.