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Top Tips: How to Move to a Cloud Phone System without Downtime

Reuben Yonatan is the founder and tech enthusiast at GetVoIP.com. Having started multiple companies within the mobile and internet sphere, Reuben is equipped with an extensive background in business communication, entrepreneurship, organization management, and technology solutions. His writings blend commentary, research, and perspective on current enterprise solutions, and other technology trends. Follow Reuben on Twitter @reubenyonatan

Reuben shares his tips on how to move to a cloud phone system without downtime.

Making the switch to a cloud phone solution is all about streamlining your process and adding productivity. You may see gains as small as having a speed dial to as large as having a caller database neatly synced to your CRM software. You want to start saving time right out of the gate, so it's important to be prepared before you even make your first call.

1. Know best practices regarding number porting.

Telephone number porting, which is when you take your old phone number to a new carrier, can be one of the trickiest parts of moving phone service. The first and most important step is that you have to fill out a port request and send it to your old provider. Do not cancel your service before your number is ported, or you will lose it. Number porting will take 2-10 business days. It’s a good idea to install one temporary VoIP phone number when you order the service, then wait until your number is ported to replace your phones. Just waiting a few days before fully deploying your new service can save you a lot of headache.

On a related note, getting a vanity number or toll-free number when you switch your phone service can be a great marketing tool, and well worth the investment. Studies show that a good vanity number can increase customer recall by as much as 84%. The typical one-time cost for vanity numbers from VoIP providers is around $30.

2. Know how you will power your devices.

Something as simple as not having enough power outlets can slow down the entire process. A phone may be compatible with Power over Ethernet (PoE), but your office may not support it. Similarly, you might get a great deal on an IP phone, only to discover when you open it that you forgot to buy a power supply, as not all phones include one. Fortunately, these problems can be easily solved as long as you're mindful when your purchase your hardware.

3. Know your components MAC addresses, passwords, and logins.

Phones, computers, and network components each have their own individual addresses so they can connect with each other. When you go to change settings or add components, you may come up across a security log in you didn't know existed. In some cases, the password is still the default from when it came out of the box, and in a worst-case scenario it might have been changed by a company you don't do business with anymore.

At the very least, you should know the name of the manufacturer and model of your device and the MAC address, which can be found on the device itself. You may want to contact your internet service provider for more information.

4. Take advantage of integrations to quickly migrate your contact list

Cloud telephony can easily sync with your contact lists, such as your Outlook and Google contacts. Take a moment to make sure the information in these programs is accurate and up to date. When your new VoIP phones arrive, you can easily import or sync this data using your admin web portal.

A great way to save time and hassle is to spend an extra minute or two to install your provider's plug-in in Microsoft Outlook, if it has one, or any similar application. Once you do that, you can make a call with the click of a mouse, and you won't even have to dial up the number. Just go to the contact page and click the icon, and the phone will ring your phone at the same time it calls out. 

5. Use your smartphones to your advantage

Your mobile devices are just as important as your desk phone. You can use them to make calls over your data network, change settings, send and receive faxes, and check your voicemail. Some providers even let you take a call on your smartphone, then seamlessly pass the call to your desk phone. If your VoIP network goes down for any reason, you can set your smartphone to take the calls as a failover. You can also make your smartphone ring at the same time your desk phone rings, or have it ring if no one is at your desk. Furthermore, you can start using your smartphone to make VoIP calls before you even get your desk phones in the mail.

When you check your system for how to migrate to VoIP, it's a good idea to also examine how you use your smartphones. Find out, for example, if your office has Wi-Fi, and whether or not employees use it; can your wireless network support a high volume of data; how good is the 3G/4G reception inside your office? Knowing how to Bring Your Own Device means knowing how to get the most out of VoIP.

Migrating to the cloud does not have to be a big pain in the neck. While there is certainly work involved, much of the work can be done well in advance of the switchover, and you can begin making calls right away. VoIP software is very intuitive and easy to start using. It won't be long before you start seeing productivity gains, and savings in terms of both time and hassle. As long as you take the time to be familiar with the features of VoIP before you sign up, you'll have a good idea of how to use them.

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