Understanding and assessing office telephone system quote proposals or PABX Quotes for your business can seem like a complicated task. To assist you in making an informed decision, we have put together this comprehensive guide to help South African businesses and decision-makers on how to compare phone system quotes and to avoid common pitfalls made in choosing their PBX telephony services provider.
Understanding the Jargon
With a basic understanding of the following terms, you should be able to navigate your way through most business phone system quotes.
PABX/PBX or Switchboard Phone System – all of these terms essentially refer to your business’s telephone system and are often used interchangeably. PABX/PBX is an office switchboard system, PABX stands for Private Analogue Branch Exchange. The “Analogue” portion was phased out around 10 years ago, leading to the currently used acronym of PBX (Private Branch Exchange).
Hosted or Cloud Phone System – these terms can be used interchangeably. They both refer to having a server or similar piece of hardware stored at a data center, which is connected to your business premises via high bandwidth internet connection(s).
Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) – while VoIP has been around for over 20 years, it has only recently begun to enter the business telephony market. VoIP uses internet data to transmit voice conversations between two or more parties.
Session Initiated Protocol (SIP) – SIP is a specific signaling method used to enable VoIP conversations. It’s a technical name used by those in the industry to represent a VoIP line from your PBX to the outside world.
What Type of Phone System is Best for My Business?
When considering a PABX Quote one has to first understand the needs of your business or organisation. There are essentially two types of telephone switchboard systems, namely hosted/cloud PBX systems, and on-premise PBX systems. When requesting information or a quotation from a supplier, you will need to establish which type of phone system your organisation requires.
Hosted PBX Phone Systems:
Cloud hosted PBX systems are gaining popularity due to the widespread availability of stable and affordable internet connectivity. Hosted PBX systems offer incredible flexibility and features at increasingly low costs. The benefits of a cloud PBX suits almost every business, from sole proprietors to corporates with over 1000 users. We recommend a hosted cloud system for most South Africa businesses that have access to reliable and affordable broadband connections. Further reading to understand hosted cloud PBX systems can be found here.
On-Premise PBX Phone Systems:
On-premise PBX systems are installed locally at your business premises. These systems are reliable, simple, and remain popular in locations where there is limited availability of high speed, reliable, and/or affordable broadband internet. Many people will be familiar with the traditional telecom PBX switchboard brands such as Panasonic, Samsung, NEC and Siemens.
You can find out more about the difference between a Hosted PBX and an On-Premise PBX here.
Requesting a PBX Phone System Quote
The providers you choose to submit your PABX Quote will likely ask the following questions in preparing your phone system quote:
- How many users will be using the phone system in your organisation?
- How many incoming and outgoing telephone lines are required?
- Would you like to keep your existing number(s) or do you need a new number?
- Do you have more than one branch or office to be linked to the system?
- Do you have work from home or remote working requirements?
- Do you require call recording?
Costs to Look Out For in an Office Phone System Quote
Telephone lines in South Africa come in three forms:
- VoIP/SIP business landlines – sometimes called virtual landlines
- GSM business landlines (mobile networks, such as Vodacom, MTN and Cell C)
- Traditional Telkom copper landlines
Modern businesses typically select either of the first two options as this allows for a degree of future-proofing your organisation by ensuring that you have a stable and reliable telephone. More information on VoIP or GSM business landlines can be found here.
A typical rule of thumb for the number of landlines required for a business is one landline per four or five employees. This can vary depending on the industry in which you operate, and the intensity of dialing in your business. For example, a call center will typically have 1 landline per agent, whereas a factory may have 1 landline per 20 employees.
When obtaining your office phone system quote, request that the supplier provides a breakdown of the following location dialing costs:
- International (if applicable)
Assessing Rental Proposals and Contracts – Clauses to Look Out For
If you have received PBX system quotes for renting, you should carefully assess some of the below-mentioned factors regarding rental clauses and terms.
In the business telephony sector, rental escalations typically come in five variants:
- 0% on the anniversary date
- 5% on the anniversary date
- 7.5% on the anniversary date (optimal for South Africa)
- 10% on the anniversary date
- 15% on the anniversary date
It’s critical that you understand the escalation that is applicable to the rental contract that you are being asked to sign. Ask your account manager or solutions consultant to clearly highlight and initial any escalation clauses when signing an agreement. We typically recommend an escalation that is matched to the local currency’s US Dollar deprecation rate. This ensures that when the time comes to replace the goods, your monthly rental corresponds to the replacement cost of another replacement device.
Ensure there are no automatic renewals in the terms and conditions of your rental agreement. It is advised to avoid any clauses which automatically renew the rental agreement without your organisation needing to give prior notice at the contract’s conclusion.
Carefully check the duration of the PBX rental agreement you have been quoted on. Some businesses may sign agreements for longer than the recommended life of the equipment, in order to reduce the monthly rental payments. Try to ensure that your rental or lease agreement is not greater than 60 months. United Telecoms offers phone system rentals from 12 to 60 months.
Who are You Purchasing From?
A business telephony solution is a long-term relationship, with agreements typically between 12-60 months or indefinitely month to month for a Hosted PBX Switchboard. For this reason, it is important to ensure that the company you are considering purchasing from, is a reputable one. Your PBX proposal must be professional, clear, and signed by both parties before the conclusion of the deal. Keep a copy of the proposal on hand and request that you have copies of both your rental and SLA (Service Level Agreement) at the outset of the deal.
Be sure to check out the reviews and ratings of the providers you are considering on various online platforms such as Google Business, Facebook and HelloPeter or request that they send you a list of referrals and references received from their clients. Understanding that your provider can meet the commitments laid out in your agreements is critical to ensuring that your business has a productive and efficient business telephony solution. Ultimately your provider should be selected on a combination of price, quality and ongoing service provision.
If your business is in need of a new PBX or an upgrade, contact us for a free office phone system quote on 086 001 8500 or [email protected]