December 10, 2023

Transition from Legacy Phone Systems to Cloud Voice Solutions

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“Easier said than done!” — a familiar sentiment we hear from many companies aiming for a painless transition from legacy on-premise or PBX (Private Branch Exchange) phone systems to modern cloud voice solutions. They all know cloud voice migrations offer numerous benefits (scalability, cost savings, flexibility), but are unsure on how to create a clear roadmap or strategy to do it.

Since the benefits are clear, let’s take a hard look at one complex challenge you might face,  and the questions we ask to help you solve them.

The Knowledge Gap of Legacy Phone Systems and the Risk of Disruptive Change from Cloud Voice Migrations

Cloud technology gives you unparalleled scalability and flexibility

Understanding your existing legacy system and the challenges it presents is a critical first step with cloud voice migrations. For example, you may have relied on your on-premise or PBX phone system for years, perhaps even decades. Over time, the individuals who initially set up and managed it may have moved on or retired, leaving behind a knowledge gap.

Documentation about these systems may be scarce, lost, or outdated. How can you grasp the full scope of legacy capabilities and integrations into your company’s workflow?

  1. Loss of Institutional Knowledge: Your legacy phone system may be incredibly intricate. To fully understand it, you need to know the configurations, customizations, and specific workflows that have been tailored to meet your exact needs. When the personnel responsible for setting up and maintaining these systems depart, however, their in-depth knowledge often leaves with them. This loss of institutional knowledge leads to the remaining staff intimidated, afraid to make changes that might cause disruptions or downtime.
  2. Lack of comprehensive documentation: We see a lot of cases where companies may have some documentation, but it might be outdated, incomplete, or difficult to access. This lack of comprehensive and up-to-date documentation hinder the effort because teams avoid the process as time-consuming and error-prone.
  3. Uncovering Features and Integrations: Much of the time, companies aren’t even aware of all the features they are currently utilizing, as they have added features and integrations over the years to meet evolving needs. This leads to layers of complexities that become difficult to navigate when the original architects of the system are no longer available.

Questions to consider if a knowledge gap exists with your PBX system:

What specific hardware and software components make up your current phone system?

  • Hardware: It is critical to identify and know the age, condition, and capabilities of the physical components such as PBX equipment, phones, voicemail servers, gateways, and any associated networking devices.
  • Software: Analyze the software that enables your phone system to function, like the operating system, call management software, and any applications used for voicemail or call routing.
  • Licensing: Ensure there are no outdated or expired licenses (which present obstacles to a smooth transition). Know the software versions in use.
  • Wiring and Infrastructure: Make sure you are aware how the cabling, network infrastructure, and any special configurations are related to your phone system’s physical set-up. When migrating to a cloud voice solution, changes to this infrastructure may be necessary.

How does your existing system handle call routing, voicemail, and other mission-critical features?

Understand the operational layers to your voice system. You need to analyze and document the existing workflow and feature implementations before embarking on cloud voice migrations.

  • Call Routing: How are calls currently handled? Map out the call flows, hunt groups, and routing rules in place. Having these rules documented lets you easily replicate and improve these functionalities in a new cloud-based system.
  • Voicemail: Transitioning voicemail services requires you to examine how voicemail services are currently managed. Are they locally hosted? If so, how are they stored? How can users access them? Knowing these answers makes moving these services to a cloud-based system easy.
  • Other features: Are there other critical features that you need? Think about conferencing, call recording, call forwarding, and interactive voice response (IVR) systems.

Did your organization customize or integrate your current system? How can we efficiently configure cloud voice migrations?

  • Customizations: In order to have a phone system that meets all your needs, have you implemented customizations? This could include specific call handling rules, personalized voicemail greetings, or unique workflows. Document these for an easier transition.
  • Third-Party Integrations: Does your phone system integrate with your customer relationship management (CRM) software? Email platforms? Helpdesk applications? Having a full list of integrations (existing and desired) helps smooth migration and ensures you select the right cloud-based system.
  • APIs: Before starting cloud voice migrations, a full understanding of APIs is needed, to know if they will be compatible with the new system, or if development efforts may be required.

Cloud voice migrations requires empathetic, wise partners

A deep exploration of your current phone system's hardware, software, features, customizations, and integrations is a foundational step in preparing for a transition to a cloud-based solution. The answers to these questions help create a tailored roadmap and strategy, ensuring that essential aspects of your communication infrastructure are accounted for.

But success also demands the importance of working with a partner who can make sure you answer each question fully and wisely. Cloud voice migrations can be a daunting process to undertake, which is why you need a partner, like FiberWave, who understands the task and can support you every step of the way.