Archive for October, 2011

 

Business telecoms for the small business – frequent questions

Sunday, October 30th, 2011

We regularly receive questions relating to business telecoms with emphasis on solutions for smaller businesses such as doctors, vets, schools and colleges etc.

Here are some responses that you may find useful.

Should we buy the cheapest possible business telecoms system?

Any systems we supply will be ones we know meet certain minimum standards of quality and reliability.

We do supply what we call entry-level economic solutions but without sacrificing the above objective.

It may be possible to find extremely low-priced solutions but a little caution may be advisable. If those systems don’t conform to accepted international standards for telecoms and quality, you may find yourself having difficulties in future - both in terms of integration with other technologies and the reliability of your system.

What can a small business telecoms system connect to?

Over the past decade or so, people have made huge progress in enabling various technology systems to connect with each other.

It is now possible to connect a small business system to the much wider telecoms world including the internet etc, however, it would be necessary to examine your precise requirements in order to give a specific answer.

What facilities do such systems provide?

There are a very large number of facilities available – depending upon a combination of your requirements and budget of course.

Examples may include;

  • video calls;
  • follow me call re-routing;
  • conference calling;
  • multiple line numbers
  • etc.

A typical small business may not need all of these facilities but if you select a solution from a major supplier, it should typically be possible to add functionality to your system relatively easily, should you need it in future.

What happens if my business phone system develops a fault?

Professional providers of telecoms solutions will typically undertake fault resolution within a specified time period.  Individual components should, typically, be under manufacturer’s warranty if you select a quality solution.

Once the warranty has expired, it may be possible to take out a phone maintenance and support contract with the solution providers. It is highly advisable to do so, thereby avoiding the need to engage in panic calls trying to find someone to help you in the event you develop a fault.

What does future-proofing mean?

Little is more annoying that investing in a new piece of technology only to find that shortly afterwards it becomes obsolete due to other developments.

In some cases, such as perhaps music or TV systems, this is more a question of style and marginal functionality, however, in the case of phone systems it may seriously affect your ability to link to or communicate with others.

Future proofing simply means taking steps to avoid your business telecoms becoming rapidly outdated by other events, to the extent that it can no longer support your business.  It is typically a justification for using major technology suppliers such as Siemens that are using fully internationally compliant systems.

South East Business Show 14th October 2011

Monday, October 17th, 2011

I’m not sure how they do it but the people at the B2B South East seem to have the ability to control the sunshine! Just as it did back in March, the event on Friday kicked off on another gloriously sunny day. Always a great start and the rest of the day did not disappoint either.

There was the added bonus this time of three free seminars. I understand that Graham Williams, Dan Maudhub and Denise Molloy all provided fantastic presentations.

The Telcare stand at SEB show

Victoria Nobes from Telcare with a representative from Windsor Printing

The Telcare stand was perfectly placed in the centre so we got to be in the hub of all the excitement as well as the traffic. It was a pleasure to share our space with Barnes Roffe LLP, Windsor Printers and Barrington James Ltd. They helped to create a relaxed and friendly atmosphere throughout the day, which made visitors feel at ease and therefore happy to stop and chat.

We ended the day with a collection of amazing new contacts, our heads buzzing with new information and very sore feet! We are very much looking forward to the next event.

The winner of our champagne was Caroline Phillips from Seadragon. The bubbly is on the way to you Caroline - Cheers!

The apparent attractions of the cheap small business phone system

Monday, October 17th, 2011

Through our extensive customer-facing experience, we know that budget is often a factor in selection of a business telephone system. Particularly when economic times are hard, advertisements for a cheap small business phone system may prove to be particularly eye-catching.

The dangers

Unfortunately, there are some potential problems in being influenced exclusively by the price.

We do supply what we consider are low-cost entry systems but we do so without compromising on the quality of the systems we install.  Other very low-cost solutions may not have the same approach.

The quality of a cheap small business phone system is important for three major reasons:

  • reducing downtime – you may find that cheaper systems are rather more prone to failure and being unable to use your phones may be at best a serious inconvenience and at worst, a veritable disaster;
  • ease of maintenance and reduced fix times – when something does go wrong, it may be easier for your support engineers to diagnose and remedy the problem if they’re dealing with a quality system;
  • the potential for easy and relatively inexpensive expansion.

The small business and telephony

Small entry-level systems are typically required for people such as schools, colleges, care homes, veterinary practices, garage services and small factories.

In all such cases, typically the procurer won’t want a vastly complicated system – but things may change.

Take for example, a hypothetical college.  Perhaps today a relatively small system may suit your needs well in terms of connecting classrooms, halls and administration areas.

Yet in the future, perhaps you will merge or form a working partnership with another college in the area. In such situation, you may wish to link your two phone systems.

If both establishments have small and cost-effective but nevertheless standard systems, it may be relatively easy to achieve the objective and without needing access to a huge budget.

By contrast, if one or both establishments have systems that were procured entirely on the lowest-cost basis, they may use non-standard technical approaches and may potentially be largely or entirely incompatible with each other.

That’s why looking for a cheap small business phone system must be tempered with a little reality.  We would be only too happy to advise further on the subject.

South East Business Show

Tuesday, October 11th, 2011

We will be at the South East Business Show at the Copthorne Hotel, Gatwick on Friday 14th October. The event is from 10am until 3pm, plenty of time to come and have a wander and get introduced to some great people, including us! There will be more than 120 exhibitors demonstrating their services. So if you would like to meet fellow professionals and gain more contacts, the show is just for you. Entrance is free and so is the parking. You will find Telcare on Stand 51. See you there!

From M23 exit at junction 10, taking the A264 towards East Grinstead. At first roundabout take the 2nd exit and remain on A264. At second roundabout take first exit onto the B2028 and the hotel is on your right. The postal code is RH10 3EU.

Guest Blogger Jayne Cox

Monday, October 10th, 2011

Have you got the twitter bug? About 18 months ago, Jason Hulott told me “you’ve got to start tweeting”. I knew he was right but didn’t think I would ever get to grips with it. Fast forward to Autumn 2011 and I find myself relying on Twitter for the news, traffic updates and of course the very latest Strictly gossip. Here in the Telcare office we use Twitter to network with like minded companies, discussing the many aspects of our working days, whilst achieving brand awareness. The icing on the cake, however, has been the discovery of some fabulous people. One lovely lady in particular is Body Image Expert, Jayne Cox, also known as @loving_my_years. I have really enjoyed tweeting with Jayne over the months so have invited her to share one of her blogs with us. If any of you are guilty of shaking the crumbs from your keyboard then read on. Take it away Jayne….

Food Rules OK? – Desks are for Computers not Lunch

Over the past 18 months I’ve attracted a new female client. These women are successful and generally in high pressure positions within corporations or they are female entrepreneurs. The reason for their initial call or email to me is quite simple. They feel that their weight is out of control and they want to tackle it! Sounds familiar, nothing special about this is there? Well I made a disturbing discovery that I want to share with you.

So initially asked if I can help with an issue around weight and using food to cope with life and emotions, the answer is yes and it’s wonderful to discuss life beyond this behaviour. Disturbingly I noticed something of a pattern immerge with these women, many experienced NO food rules in the workplace! Yes, it seems in Offices and work places up and down the country breakfast, lunch and snacks are being eaten at the desk. There is no designated break and secret and binge eating isn’t the only cause for the increase in weight. The office space is providing an unhealthy environment for business owners and staff!

The auto-pilot eating at a desk has become the norm and I am also told that food is often centrally available in offices. It’s cake Wednesday or a Birthday or a Reward! Food is within a few steps or arms reach all day long. So you can literally eat your way through your day and this of course means that food as a coping mechanism has become deeply engrained at work. Clients discover they reach for food to create a break, a distraction or to deal with a difficult moment in their day.

I’ve asked clients how many of their staff are dieting, I am told it’s usually well over half. Something surely is ready to change?

My suggestions…

  1. Make food rules, discuss with your staff a way to reward and celebrate other than food
  2. Keep food in a kitchen space or designated area that you have to make an effort to go to
  3. Encourage other positive reward systems!
  4. Ask staff to have a break, a few minutes in a space away from their desks
  5. Set a good example if you are a business owner or a team leader!

It’s a simple way to improve our health and wellbeing around the country, let’s bring in some Food Rules OK?

What do you think?

Jayne x

Visit http://www.jaynemcox.com to read more about Jayne and her work.

Installing an office telephone system

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

In terms of installing an office telephone system, it’s worth keeping in mind your own limitations.

The temptation

Some systems, from suppliers such as Siemens Business Telephones, are designed to be modular in the sense that other components can be easily plugged in to allow your system to grow with you.

Great at such flexibility is, it may encourage the belief that installing an entirely new system is really just a question of snap-click-fix.

In fact, it is a little more complicated than that.

Planning

Your office telephone system installation needs to be thoroughly planned if potential problems are to be avoided.

This isn’t just a question of deciding where to place handsets and boxes but crucially, where cable runs are going to be.

As you may know, health and safety legislation is very specific about where cables may or may not be run in areas used by people for work – and those regulations aren’t necessarily that easy to get to grips with if you are not familiar with them.

Then there is what’s called deliberate redundancy. That basically involves perhaps laying a few more cables than you currently need so that if you decide to expand or change the system in future, you don’t need to start pulling up floorboards or lifting panels etc.

That may be particularly important if you’re based in an older building that does not have easy-access cable ducting etc.

Maintenance and repairs

It is sometimes a sensible idea to take out a support and phone maintenance contract with the people, such as us, that originally installed your phone system. It makes it easier for engineers in future if the system they’re looking at is one their company installed.

Even if you choose to use different support staff, they will find it easier to resolve issues if your system has been professionally designed and installed, rather than if you have adopted a DIY approach.

Playing it safe

Your business telephone system is very likely to rapidly become a key backbone of your operation and not something that you’ll wish to take chances with.

That is why it typically makes sense to avoid gambling on your own installation skills and instead, to call upon the services of well qualified professionals to install your office telephone system.