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UC&C Roadmapping, Part III: the Value of a Proper UC&C Assessment and Vendor Selection

Vishal Brown

VP Professional Services at Yorktel

As this series continues, my intention is to better prepare IT decision-makers to not just match the right UC&C solution with their collaboration needs, but to also to help them find the best partner. In addition to delivering technology, this group should be viewed as more than just a vendor; their team must provide the proper guidance, support and other resources throughout all phases of the deployment.

While the promise of UC&C is compelling, enterprises must be certain their environment can properly support it. This goes beyond the core competencies of most IT departments, and based on my experience, is most effectively addressed by experts who specialize in the multi-component integration and behind-the-curtain network assessments. Our latest white paper, “Best Practices for UC&C Productivity,” details a six-step process and reflects best practices gleaned from Yorktel’s extensive history of UC&C deployments with Fortune 500 and public sector clientele around the world. I will now briefly outline this process, which provides a strong foundation for partner selection.

Step 1 – Stakeholder Interviews

IT must take a holistic view as to how UC&C will impact the enterprise. This process starts with ensuring that the technology will deliver the business-level outcomes expected by management. Our assessment structure begins with interviewing executives to understand their challenges and continues with other stakeholders to identify specific requirements both at the ‘line of business’ level along with everyday end-users.

Step 2 – Technology Assessment

Since UC&C is used across the entire organization, success will depend on how well the deployment interoperates with existing technology. A thorough evaluation will help IT identify the range of systems in use along with potential interoperability challenges. Based on these findings, IT can determine whether it’s best to standardize around a new solution, or adopt a best-of-breed approach to support all that’s currently in place.

Step 3 – Network Assessment

UC&C places specific demands on the network and IT needs to address any shortcomings prior to deployment. To deliver productivity gains, monitoring tools must be in place to manage bandwidth usage. Since many UC&C applications involve real-time media, carrier SLAs need to be examined to ensure network uptime as well as having a failover plan to cover service outages. Network security must also be reviewed, especially for compliance requirements in highly regulated sectors such as healthcare and financial services.

Step 4 – Collaboration Space Assessment

A key value driver for UC&C is the ability for end-users to collaborate anywhere they have a broadband connection. Planning must account for supporting connectivity via desktops, boardrooms, and remote settings. For each, an assessment will help determine key requirements such as endpoints, bandwidth allocation, and data security.

Step 5 – Resolution Options

After completing the previous steps, decision makers will be in a position to map out basic deployment options from which UC&C vendors can be shortlisted. Of note, is that during these initial stages, it is essential to ascertain whether to standardize on a single UC&C platform or adopt a best of breed approach. In addition, you must also select a preferred deployment model: on-premise; cloud-based; or hybrid.

Step 6 – Implementation Strategy

Finally, after selecting the appropriate UC&C solution, an implementation strategy must be developed to ensure that your vendor partner can fully support the installation. Key indicators of credibility include a plan for user training to drive early adoption, and ongoing technical support so employees can maximize the potential benefits of the solution and enjoy a consistent user experience across all collaboration scenarios.

Conclusion

My main message is to demonstrate the absolute need for, and value of conducting a proper end-to-end assessment before moving ahead with UC&C.

Candidly, most vendors are not equipped with the comprehensive skill set needed to see each of these vital components through to their fruition. Every potential partner will have its own distinct approach, but only Yorktel brings the requisite expertise and qualifications to recommend a solution that properly aligns with customer needs. Some providers excel in AV integration, for example, while others specialize in mobility. The exhaustive nature of our process, which is based on proven industry best practices, leads to better UC&C decisions, regardless of current infrastructure, size or communications environment