• United States
Contributing Writer

Key to VoIP success? Training

Jun 25, 20033 mins

* VoIP smarts

What’s the best way to guarantee success with your voice over IP rollout? According to presenters on our Voice over IP Technology Tour, which wrapped up last week, the key is training. Without training, you pretty much put the nail in the coffin of any deployment.

Yet training is often one of those things that gets sidelined from the budget – put off till another day – or even redlined. After all, the thinking is: it’s a phone, what’s so difficult?

Truth is, there are so many features that you can build into VoIP-enabled phones that it’s imperative you provide adequate training for users. Johna Till Johnson, president of Nemertes Research and keynoter for the tour, explains, “If you rolled out voice over IP and didn’t train anyone and the CEO goes to make a call and can’t because he or she doesn’t know how, you’ve put the entire project in jeopardy.”

Presenters on the tour offered strategies to make sure that the training you supply is on target.

First, do a feature-use survey up front. Find out from users what functions they use on their traditional phones and what else they’d like to have. Then find out from their managers what group features would be ideal – such as notification of who’s available, conferencing, etc. Also, check what isn’t being used. Maybe call forwarding is not employed often by your users so you won’t want to spend a lot of time making sure that is an option.

Second, discuss what features are possible with the VoIP-enabled phones. Perhaps your users would like to start planning for timesheet applications, automated call centers and other applications that can be developed with the new phones.

Third, involve a select set of users in the deployment process as consultants for the project. Don’t just roll out the phones without discussing them with these users or letting them test-drive the various options – they could guide you in figuring out which phones are appropriate for what set of tasks.

Fourth, institute a train the trainer program. Once you’ve deployed the phones, make sure that you have a group of users who will then help you train other users, including new employees. If you spread out training responsibilities, you will help stretch valuable IT resources. Training department managers is always a good idea because they will be the ones to bring on new employees and can help with such simple tasks as moves, adds and changes.

Fifth, check back with users often to see how they are using the phones. Perhaps once the phones have been deployed, they’ll see that some functions aren’t used. Others might be needed. Groups might also think up some productivity-enhancing applications that they want to deploy via the new system. Staying in touch with users will help you improve your return on investment.

Any other suggestions?  What worked for you? Let me know at