IP Telephony – Plans for the Unplanned

Tips on responding to a client’s unexpected business growth

By Carl Watene

Unexpected growth generally is a great problem for most businesses, but it produces several growing pains for managed services and IT providers supporting those companies. Fortunately, there are steps that can be taken by MSPs to help effectively respond to a client’s unexpected growth in business.

First, it’s important to establish infrastructure flexibility. In other words, look for solutions that minimize or eliminate the need to expand physical infrastructure, as the time requirements for new third-party installs can be a serious constraint. When dealing with growth-oriented companies, consider data solutions that have room to accommodate a realistic surge in business, without overpaying for current needs. Also, aim for data packages that can scale up on demand without the need for onsite visits – for example, Internet data services that can be scaled remotely. This is possible with a number of technologies, including fiber, Ethernet-over-cable, and even DSL. Note that you should always confirm availability first as it can vary based on the client’s physical location.

Next, seek out services offering instant scalability that can be easily managed on your clients’ behalf.

For example, with a cloud-based phone service, you can sign up your client for a plan that allows you to add capacity for more phone lines at a moment’s notice. Generally, you can do this directly online when logged into the account and authenticated as an admin. Also, avoid services that require a lengthy order process. For larger or more complex accounts, you may need to contact the sales rep that looks after your client, but the turnaround on the service item addition should still be no more than one business day.

It’s also important to build strong relationships with dependable contacts once vendors are selected. During growth, no matter how organized you are or how streamlined the provider’s online ordering process is, there will inevitably come a time when your client needs something unusual that doesn’t “fit the mold.” And they will need it quickly. When that happens, it’s critical to have a strong relationship with someone in the vendor’s organization who can occasionally sidestep typical processes in the interest of client satisfaction.

Of course, it’s always crucial to make security a priority. In addition to updating operating systems, checking third-party software and establishing best practices throughout the organization, make sure that data security accommodates growth. This can be achieved through managed Internet services that offer private-layer networks and encrypted traffic. While it may come with somewhat of a premium, the improvements in privacy and security will be worthwhile to your client, particularly in risk-prone industries such as legal, healthcare and government.

Finally, ask your client’s decision-maker for a direct line of communication to the “point person” for growth cycles. It’s best for MSP and IT providers to deal only with this person when accepting changes and setup requests, which fly in rapid succession in an unplanned growth scenario. This will ensure a seamless process and avoid having to field requests that come from junior staff without management approval.

Carl Watene is the vice president of sales and channel development for Easy Office Phone, where he manages the company’s Dealer Program and oversees all sales and marketing initiatives. Watene holds extensive sales experience in working with major telecom and data providers, including Optus, Telstra, Vodafone and Arrow Voice & Data. He previously directed sales teams, created training systems and ran marketing campaigns for major players such as RIM, Samsung, Nokia, Cisco, Rogers, Xplornet and Discover Communications.

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