A Step Process

A Step Process

Russell Bolan, CEO, Dimension Data Europe

The underlying reasons for the failure of IT infrastructure projects tend not to be purely technology-related. The main reasons are often cited as the lack of business requirements being met and end-user acceptance challenges. The deployment of an IP Telephony (IPT) infrastructure is no different.

Organisations deploying IPT in their environment – whether it be a hundred handsets or 10,000 – need to ensure that their implementation partner follows basic principles that set the foundation for a successful implementation. These principles include many considerations, ranging from the end-user to following robust processes:

 

1. User requirement analysis and change management.

Ultimately, the success of an IPT deployment project must be measured by the acceptance of the new solution by end-users within the client’s organisation. A strong focus on user acceptance, training and change management is vital to improving acceptance rates.

 

Pinpoint your target market: Who are the most important users of the technology? They must be involved in the scoping of the project. Conduct an analysis to determine how regular users such as call centre staff, the receptionist, or personal assistants utilise their existing systems.

Use telephony analysts (often employed by the partner of choice) to determine the business and end-users’ requirements. They should have analysis or training backgrounds, a sound understanding of business, and be skilled in IPT technology.

Educate the end-user: After transferring identified features onto the new system, endusers need to understand how to access new functionality. A combination of tools can be used to educate the end-user, but formal or informal training is generally a prerequisite to ensuring that end-users adopt the technology successfully and that complexities are overcome.

 

2. Site readiness.

A pre-deployment site readiness survey (conducted by the partner of choice) needs to be undertaken to ensure that the underlying network is convergence-ready and that the site can support the new environment. The survey should include an investigation of the LAN and WAN environments to check whether they are voice-ready, as well as the status of the data network, power, hosting and reticulation.

Following the survey, it is necessary to make logical and physical changes in the environment (logical changes, for example, focus on IP address schemes and how they are set up to support the technology). If a site readiness survey is not conducted, the quality of the solution and the success of the project might be in jeopardy.

 

3. Migration from the existing infrastructure.

A migration plan is required to ensure that the business is not disrupted. A phased handover by the implementation partner, planned in conjunction with the internal IT team, is recommended. The roles and responsibilities of both the implementation partner and the organisation’s IT team need to be clearly outlined, and migration should be conducted after hours and over weekends to ensure minimal disruption to end-users.

 

4. Enterprise integration.

IPT holds the promise of productivity enhancements and communication improvements to end-users. For example, IPT enables users to utilise multiple communication channels such as voice mail and Microsoft Outlook and access email outside the office. To realise these benefits, the implementation partner needs to be able to integrate the IPT with the organisation’s existing back office systems, including Microsoft Active Directory or Lotus Notes.

 

5. Ongoing support.

The success of the project depends on the organisation’s ability to retain support staff who have the depth of skill to focus on both data and voice, who can operate and conduct administration and troubleshooting of the IPT environment, and who can also maintain the stability of the environment on a daily basis. An option is to outsource the maintenance and monitoring of the environment to a partner in order to reduce or eliminate the need for inhouse back up skills and administration personnel, and to reduce the risk of downtime.

 

6. Security.

Mistakenly, security is often considered as an afterthought when deploying IPT. Because these business-critical telephony services are now running on a multi-service network, if they are not secured correctly, they could threaten the stability of the service. An infrastructure assessment and risk assessment should be part of every IPT project.

 

7. Project management and disciplines.

A partner’s sound project methodology, coupled with their experience in deploying small and large-scale projects, ensures better client experience and greater client satisfaction. It simplifies and standardises the way that the IPT project will be delivered and improves manageability through standardisation and tools.

In addition, ensure that the partner of choice documents the deployment. This reduces the future risks of disaster and downtime and assists the organisation with change management and training.

 

In conclusion

Organisations that do not insist that their implementation partner follow these basic considerations are setting themselves up for failure. When these basic principles are not followed, the business case and reasons for the project, as well as user satisfaction, may never materialise.

Choose a partner with networking, telephony and security expertise and experience in deploying multi-disciplined IPT projects. Ensure that the partner’s project methodology includes standard automated configuration tools to facilitate a shorter turn around time and costing accuracy.

Most importantly, demand visibility throughout execution of the project. The more time and effort the partner, in conjunction with the internal IT department, puts in at the start of the project, the more likely it will be effortlessly executed and deliver high end-user satisfaction.

 

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