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Unified Communications, November 2018

UC, Concentrate on being the best at what you do

When thinking about this subject, I decided to research some quotes on the topic of time, i.e. time being precious, wasting time, etc. We all know that Benjamin Franklin said that ‘time is money,’ he also said that ‘lost time is never found again.’ There are many quotes on this subject and reading them got me thinking about my own time and the frustration I feel when it's wasted on things I don't value or enjoy. I am well known for trying to find the most suitably efficient way to carry out my daily tasks (my wife can vouch for this).

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It often seems easy to give things a go yourself; doing some research, attending a few webinars or product demonstrations or trialling some hardware.

Sometimes we find other staff members to do the research for us. We send them off to research a particular area and they come back excited by something that sparked their interest and made them believe that they are heading in the right direction to meet the objectives you set them. This can be an excellent management of your resources when done without the boundaries of existing knowledge and experience.

However, is this the right approach when the resources at your disposal do not have the relevant high level of expertise needed to make an informed decision? For example, if you ran a law firm and you needed to do some remodelling of your office, creating a new meeting room, knocking down a partners office and creating some more open plan space – would you give this to your office manager to design and complete the work or would you outsource it to a supplier who would be managed/coordinated by your office manager? If one of your company vehicles needed its windscreen replacing, would you ask one of your logistics team to replace the windscreen or would you arrange for a qualified supplier to take care of it?

Hopefully, the answer to these questions are clear; you would want experienced and qualified expert resources to advise you and complete the activities you need to enable you to get the best results. While it is true that the examples I mentioned above have health and safety implications, so you'd automatically want to cover yourself, is your ability to communicate with others any less important?

A true unified communications deployment (UC), enabling a high adoption level resulting in the realisation of your strategic goals, takes time and effort to ensure the strategy is created and implemented correctly. This is a complex requirement on what is often a significant investment. With this being the case, is it not reasonable that you utilise qualified, experienced resources to engage, advise on and deliver the UC solutions your business needs? In the same way as you wouldn’t have your office manager building walls, why would you have your desktop support decide on your UC strategy and deploy it?

I can hear your answers to the above questions as I type them!

  • Cost – it is much more cost effective to use internal resources than it is to engage with external consultants.
  • Trust – there is an existing relationship and trust between my business and its resources that ensure we do what is right for the business rather than being advised to buy solutions we don’t need.
  • Understanding – our internal resources know enough to make the right decisions/recommendations

While these answers all hold some merit, it is worth considering the impact of either not getting the solutions right or not realising the potential of the solutions fully. In response to the above points I would urge you to consider:

  • External consultants will cost, but depending on the engagement these are often fixed price to an agreed scope. The initial outlay could result in the consultant advising you to change your processes and do some training to get the results you need, creating a bespoke adoption program that could save you vast sums of money rather than deploying something new.
  • It is vital to create a trusted partnership with an agnostic partner around these technologies. It is not in any partners long-term interests to try and oversell you a solution for your core platform or your room – this is however common with partners who don’t understand the value in consultancy. Being agnostic is key to ensuring you can fully understand the options available to you and the positives and negatives of these options – you won't get this from a solution/technology suppliers.
  • How do you validate that the resources know enough about the marketplace and options available? If the research carried out has been by contacting the solution/technology suppliers, how do you know the drawbacks of the solution and how it compares to another supplier?

As with any project, where experts are not used there is a need to way up the risks, what is the impact on time, outcome, ongoing support and reworks of utilising internal resources and saving on what will be a comparably low cost to the overall project? Considering these points, why wouldn’t you want to engage expert resources in aiding you in creating and delivering your UC strategy? After all communication is the key to productivity!