BASKING RIDGE, N.J. - Chief information officers (CIOs) and information technology (IT) professionals for businesses and government agencies are continually searching for ways to control costs and enhance productivity. One increasingly popular method is deploying Internet protocol telephony (IPT). This advanced technology, which converges voice and data over a single Internet protocol (IP) network, facilitates employee collaboration and access to information, and enables businesses to reduce management complexity and streamline operational expenses.
A fully managed approach -- whereby a company hires a service provider to oversee the transition of the company's network to IPT and ensure high levels of reliability, performance and restoration -- can often deliver significant benefits for businesses of all sizes. By shifting the transition and ongoing network management responsibilities to a managed services provider, businesses can better focus on critical business activities so they can quickly adapt and respond to changing business conditions.
But how can CIOs and IT professionals make the right choice in selecting a managed services provider, and what are the most important factors to consider? Verizon Business is offering 10 tips to make the selection process easier.
"Our top 10 tips list represents experience gained through many years of managing networks for thousands of customers," said Jim DeMerlis, vice president, managed services, Verizon Business. "While every customer situation is unique, these tips provide an effective framework for any customer considering the deployment of a managed IPT platform."
The following are Verizon Business suggestions and questions to ask when navigating the path to IPT:
Evaluate service provider/system integrator capabilities in terms of breadth of services and flexibility of offerings. Does the vendor offer a wide range of IPT services that match your needs? Will they allow you to start small and add-on services as your business requirements evolve? How quickly can the service provider integrate new technology into your service package?
Ensure vendor is financially stable and committed to the business over the long haul. How long has the company been providing managed services? How many devices are currently under management? Are industry analysts positive about the company's future prospects and fiscal health? Does the company have a history of and commitment to investing in new services?
Determine if resources are available when and where they are required. Does the service provider have national and international points of presence that match your business locations? Instead of asking about response times, ask about repair times. What types of service level agreements are available? Does the service provider offer actual repair times rather than average response times?
Look for a service provider that will build upon your existing investment in hardware and software. Can existing equipment be retained or will new equipment purchases be necessary? Does the service provider offer and support equipment from multiple vendors?
Identify the scope and scale of service provider responsibility. Will the service provider take responsibility for your entire network from end-to-end? How does the service provider communicate with other carriers? Via e-mail? Via e-bonding? How will the service provider communicate with you and vice versa?
Tour the company's network management facility and meet the people who will monitor your network. Can the service provider deliver personal service via a dedicated team? What type of information does the service provider deliver? Is it limited to network performance data or are network engineering resources available to interpret data?
Ask about employee and site certifications. Are technicians certified across a wide range of products? How current are certifications? Does the service provider link employee compensation and customer satisfaction? Are network control facilities ISO9001 certified?
Select a service provider with built-in system redundancy. Are back-up systems in place to help ensure continued operations under unforeseen circumstances? Are procedures and processes in place to handle transitions smoothly?
Obtain fully documented service resolution procedures. How does the service provider handle service impacting events in a multi-vendor environment? How quickly can the service provider respond?
Finally, look for a vendor committed to continued investment in network operations and system integration. Does the service provider invest in new technology platforms? Will they evolve with the ever-changing technology environment?
"These suggestions are not a silver bullet for success," added DeMerlis. "Organizations must devote the time and resources necessary to develop a comprehensive IPT migration strategy. Incorporating these tips into the due diligence process will help ensure a smooth transition."
About Verizon Business
Verizon Business, a unit of Verizon Communications (NYSE: VZ), is a leading provider of advanced communications and information technology (IT) solutions to large business and government customers worldwide. Combining unsurpassed global network reach with advanced technology and professional service capabilities, Verizon Business delivers innovative and seamless business solutions to customers around the world. For more information, visit www.verizonbusiness.com.