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How to choose the right PBX for your business


Johannesburg, 13 Oct 2021
Read time 7min 00sec

Selecting the right PBX system for your organisation can be a difficult decision to make. With telephony technology advancing over the past few years, you now have more choices than ever.

Do you purchase an on-premises system or sign up for a cloud PBX? Below, we answer your questions on how to choose the right PBX for your business and provide information on the different types of systems available.

Types of PBX systems

On-premises analogue PBX

Analogue PBX systems are the traditional phone systems, having been around since before the days of the internet. Telephone calls are routed through the PBX using traditional copper landlines.

The downside of these systems is that they are not capable of many modern-day PBX features such as voicemail-to-email, video calling, or mobile phone extensions. Maintenance can be slow since they require an on-site technician to troubleshoot and resolve issues and they are vulnerable to copper infrastructure damage which can take days or even weeks to fix.

On the plus side, analogue PBX Systems are not impacted by connectivity issues since they do not connect to the internet. These phone systems are suitable for organisations that require a standard phone system with no additional features and functionality and do not expect huge growth in the near future. Analogue PBX systems are also suitable for businesses that are in areas with no or limited internet connectivity.

On-premises IP PBX

An IP (Internet Protocol) PBX uses the internet to make and receive phone calls. Unlike its analogue counterpart, an IP PBX has SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) trunks or ports that the incoming lines connect to.

These phone systems do require a reliable internet connection to operate, if you are considering this type of PBX for your organisation, make sure you assess the type of internet connection you have.

Although suitable for all types and sizes of businesses, IP PBX phone systems are a popular choice among large enterprises. These phone systems provide enterprise-level features such as unified communications, mobility of extensions, and remote maintenance and programming of the system.

Cloud PBX

A cloud PBX removes the need for on-site equipment; instead, the entire system is hosted in the cloud and is managed through off-site servers owned by the chosen service provider. These systems make use of the internet to route calls as well as to manage and maintain the functioning of the PBX remotely.

The beauty of Cloud PBX systems is that no on-site hardware is required for the PBX to function, you simply need a stable internet connection and either a handset, mobile phone, or softphone on your PC.

A huge advantage of cloud phone systems is the reduced maintenance costs and the headaches associated with managing the system as this responsibility now rests with the service provider. Since the system is powered through their servers, they are responsible for the upkeep of the server hardware, upgrading the PBX software, downtime, and repairs.

As with IP PBX systems, cloud PBX systems rely on a stable Internet connection to perform. If your business does not have access to any form of stable internet connectivity, then a cloud PBX is not suitable for you.

Cloud PBX phone systems offer all the features of on-premises systems, the latest telephony technology, access to unified communications, CRM integration, online portals to view call reports and more. One of the major benefits of cloud systems is the ability for staff members to work remotely. With the ability to put your extension on your mobile phone or a softphone on your PC, users can make, receive and transfer calls wherever they are.

How to choose a PBX system

Organisations of any size can utilise a PBX telephony system, whether there are just two people in the business or over 100. Which solution they choose largely depends on their budget, current business environment, and future plans.

1. How big is your business?

Although both on-premises and cloud PBX systems are suitable for any size business, cloud PBX systems are ideal for small to medium businesses, while on-premises solutions are more suitable for large enterprises. The number of employees you have will determine the number of extensions you require. More so, the type of business you run will also influence which system is most appropriate. For example, cloud PBX systems are ideal for estate agents and call centres while on-premises systems are better suited for hospitality establishments that require handsets in each guest room.

2. Where are your employees working?

Are some of your staff members working from home? Do you have salespeople in the field who spend a lot of time on the road? If yes, a cloud PBX is the perfect telephony solution for you. With a cloud phone system, employees can access their business extension on their mobile phone via an application or a desktop softphone application on their PC, enabling them to connect with fellow staff members and customers from anywhere in the world as long as they are connected to the internet.

3. What is your budget?

You need to consider both initial upfront costs as well as ongoing costs when choosing a PBX system. Traditional on-premises PBX systems have high upfront costs to cover the hardware, installation, and licensing of the system, whereas cloud PBX systems have little to no upfront costs apart from the monthly subscription fee you pay for the extensions and any desk phones you purchase.

You should also expect ongoing maintenance costs for on-site phone systems. Another budget factor to consider with on-premises systems is that they become obsolete after a number of years and will need to be replaced.

With cloud PBX systems, on the other hand, service providers generally charge per extension per month which can be increased or decreased at any time, ensuring you do not pay for extensions and lines not being used. Usually, remote support for maintenance of the system is included in the subscription fee, and installation costs are kept to a minimum since handsets are only required for the setup.

4. Do you have a reliable internet connection?

If you are considering a cloud PBX or IP PBX, a reliable, high-speed internet connection is critical; without this, your system will not perform effectively. For traditional analogue PBX systems installed on-site, this is not required as they make use of copper or digital or phone lines.

5. Do you expect your business to grow?

You should not only consider your business's current telephony needs, but also those of the near future, especially if you are expecting your business to grow. For flexibility and scalability, a cloud PBX would be the way to go, as these systems are easily expandable allowing you to add or remove lines and extensions at any time. On-premises phone systems, on the other hand, are rigid when it comes to growth.

6. Which telephony features do you require?

All PBX systems come with the standard call features that you would expect, IP PBX systems do have a few more features than analogue systems, while cloud PBX systems offer far more than both on-premises solutions. If your organisation only requires basic call features such as an auto-attendant, call transfer, ring groups, etc, then you may find an on-premises PBX is sufficient for your business. If your business needs advanced functionality such as CRM integration, video-conferencing, mobile extensions, call reports, etc, then a cloud PBX would be the route to go.

Understanding your business needs is essential in determining which PBX system will work well for your organisation. If you need help determining which system is best suited for your organisation, contact us on (086) 001 8101 or e-mail info@unitedbusiness.co.za.

Editorial contacts
United Business Solutions Candice Evans (011) 239 8720 candice@unitedbusiness.co.za
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