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Soft savings

To toot your horn as loudly as your VoIP project deserves, make sure your ROI projections include those hard-to-calculate soft savings.

By , Network World
June 23, 2003 12:00 AM ET

Network World - When it comes to figuring out how quickly your investment in voice over IP will pay off, some savings are obvious, others, not so.

Savings on cabling, long-distance and premium voice services are the obvious hard-savings areas. They offer the biggest returns and are the easiest to spot and calculate. A VoIP network saves Boston's OneUnited Bank more than $10,000 a month by eliminating toll fees and Centrex charges, CIO Jim Barry says. Other examples are the 40% in monthly long-distance phone bills saved by accounting services firm Grant Thornton in Chicago, and the couple hundred thousand dollars in cabling savings NFL Films, in Mount Laurel, N.J, achieved. This return occurred by choosing VoIP with in-line power for NFL Film's new offices. Handset power is supplied via the network cabling, thereby reducing wiring needs.

User productivity is slippery to calculate, but worth the effort. What exactly is the value of always being able to find remote, road-warrior or floating employees because their phone numbers travel with them? In a survey of 100 IT professionals, Sage Research found that mobility functions benefits 50% of respondents' employee populations for 3.9 hours per employee, per week.

Likewise, faster ads, moves and changes have similar productivity gains for IT people - saving respondents an average of 1.5 hours per move. Steve Eager, director of network and systems administration, calculates that NFL Films saved $60,000 by not needing a person dedicated to managing the phone system.

Chances are your company will have its own unique productivity gains worth factoring in, too. At Grant Thornton, various dialing features let employees quickly create and dissolve virtual ad hoc work teams. For OneUnited, customers can call local numbers and instantly be routed to a call center anywhere, reducing call center costs while maintaining a hometown face.

Read more about voip & convergence in Network World's VoIP & Convergence section.

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