Cloud Communications

How to Write a VoIP Request for Proposal and Get Exactly What You Want

So you want to upgrade to a VoIP phone system. Great! But you have to write a Request for Proposal (RFP). Suddenly, the deadline is approaching and you’re struggling to have everything properly structured. You’re trying to use terminology that might as well be a foreign language to you. You’re beginning to question whether you should just stick with your redundant old phone system. So what if maintenance is costing an arm and a leg?

Fear not! We have assembled a comprehensive guide to writing an RFP for a VoIP system. Here is what you need to know!

Step One: The Team Meeting

Find out if someone in your organization has developed an RFP template that is complete with general terms and conditions. If this isn’t the case, assemble your team and designate tasks. Determine who will be in charge of day-to-day management and identify the types of users you have (basic, advanced, reception). What are the specific pain points that staff are experiencing with the current system?

Step Two: The Basics

It is time to take your team meeting notes and map out the basics. How many sites, types of phones, phone lines and extensions do you require? Do some research on the available technology. Understanding the differences between hosted and on-premise solutions will help you formulate this section.

Step Three: The Features

Separate the features that are absolutely essential for business from the ones that would be an added bonus.

What are the features you depend on with your existing system? What are the main features that you’re missing? Is it imperative that you have smart phone mobility or call queuing? Next, create your ‘wish list’ of features. These are cool and convenient features that are not required to do business. The vendor is a still a contender even if they can’t provide a ‘do not disturb’ feature that stops incoming calls during lunch.

Step Four: The Architecture

Break down how the system will be set up. Can the system be implemented across existing network resources? Remember to specify maintenance agreements. Can the system be maintained remotely or does it require certified technicians?

Consider the Local Area Network (LAN) and Wide Area Network (WAN). Will LAN cabling or managed Ethernet switches need to be added before deployment? Will VoIP be deployed to the WAN? If so, is your DSL circuit, CableModem, dedicated T-1, or Municipal Ethernet able to successfully handle calls?

Step Five: Installation and Training

The scheduling of system installation is an important consideration. Will any work need to take place after hours? How will your business be affected if there are outages during installation?

Once the system is installed, staff must be proficient in using it. How long will training take? Who will be responsible for training? Is online training available?

Step Six: The Financial Component

It’s important to ensure that prices incorporate all initial and recurring fees, including hardware, software, user licenses, support and maintenance. Be sure to ask for a list of all the charges rather than the total cost.

You should also inquire about trading in your old system to help finance your VoIP system. A financing plan could be another cost-saving option.

Step Seven: Support

Don’t neglect to consider what happens after your new system is in place. What is the warranty of your VoIP system? What are the regular maintenance tasks? How will the vendor respond if you have a question?

Step Eight: The Company’s Reputation

How much experience does the vendor have with this system? Ask if references are available and find out how satisfied other customers have been with the system.

Writing a Request for Proposal is not simple, but it certainly doesn’t have to be a hassle. Following these steps will help ensure that you receive a phone system that is tailored to your organization. Have any Request for Proposal questions? Feel free to reach out to our team!

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