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Moving Your Office?

Moving to a new office space presents a perfect opportunity for you to evaluate the communications side of your business. How are your telecommunication systems - are they proficient or outdated? Can enhancements be added to your current system to bring it up to speed, or should you be looking to invest in a new system with updated technology and improved capabilities? Are you expanding or downsizing? Are the number of lines (both voice and data) you are paying for through your phone company equal to your needs?

If you are planning on moving into new offices within the next twelve months, it's not too early to start asking these questions. Moving is the best time to stand back and assess the systems you have in place, and make changes. Do you want to move your existing systems or obtain the latest technologies? If your system is over 5 years old, it may be worth considering the additional benefits gained from purchasing a new system.

Some technologies to consider are voice mail, Unified Messaging (receiving e-mail, voice mail, and fax mail to a single "mailbox" on each individual's computer), video conferencing, computer-telephony integration (linking together your computer and telephone systems), IVR (interactive voice response) systems, and ACD (automatic call distributors). Technologies that were once costly, and therefore only affordable by very large corporations just a few years ago, are now affordable with even more capabilities for small and medium sized businesses.

Whatever you decide - to move your existing systems or to buy new systems - take this opportunity to evaluate your internal communications processes. The following checklist focuses on moving your existing telephone system, but each point can apply equally to buying a new system and having it installed.

If working with several vendors (such as IT and phone), make sure you have work, cell and emergency numbers of your vendor's key technical personnel throughout the moving process. At the very least, insist on a 24-hour number availability to at least one person at the vendor's company who has the authority to track down anyone who is necessary to fix any problems.

If changing phone numbers, you may want to set up forwarding for your old number rather than just have the telephone company put a recording on the old number that says the new number is xxx-xxx-xxxx. Your calls can be forwarded without having to physically keep your old lines in place. Ask your local telephone company about this service, sometimes called Remote Call Forwarding (RCF). If your calls are forwarded, have the calls sent to a special number where you can track the volume of traffic. When it dies down, stop the forwarding and switch to the recorded message from the phone company. Test out the call forwarding to make sure it works.

Work with your telephone equipment vendor (such as ALTEL Telecom Inc, ) to inventory your current system including any peripheral components and verify how they are currently set up and used. Take this opportunity to re-evaluate your use of the features of your phone system. There may be many that you're not using and from which you could benefit. Ask your employees what they would like to do with the system that they cannot do now. Ask your vendor what else you could be taking advantage of with the system you already have. You may want to compare additional benefits that can be obtained from using the latest technologies in telephone equipment.

Telephone Numbers and Lines at Your New Location

Look over your phone bills. Are you happy with your current provider? Moving is the perfect time to compare phone companies. We at Altel work with all the providers in the region It is possible, due to the healthy competition within the telecommunications industry these days, that you could be saving money by going with someone else. Do you have the right amount of voice and data lines for your current needs? Have your needs changed since you signed on years ago? Would you benefit from bundling your lines through a T1 or PRI? Altel can assess your current needs, look over your phone bills, and see if there are some changes available to save you money.

Consider the types of lines you want. You may want to consider newer services, such as ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network), PRI and IP Trunks, specialized circuits, and "older", but very useful services such as DID (Direct Inward Dial), if you aren't already using them. With DID, each person receives an individual telephone number for voice calls. You can also assign individual fax telephone numbers. There are advantages to this, such as immediacy of obtaining faxes, faxes not getting lost at the fax machine, and privacy. You may even want to use DIDs just for individual fax numbers and not for voice numbers at all.

Consider line capacity. Do you know if callers are getting busy signals during peak times of the day, week, or your busy season? Find out for sure. The telephone company will perform a busy line study, typically for two weeks, at no charge. This is a starting point. The best method is to install your own call accounting software for your telephone system.

Make sure the telephone lines at the new location are working properly before you move your phone system. Test them out. Verify the termination locations of your telephone numbers with the phone company and your telephone equipment vendor. Verify, check, and recheck individual telephone numbers and their locations, especially for each fax, modem, and any other special devices you have on your system. Verify that the telephone numbers the phone company told you are the telephone numbers that actually ring in to the lines at your new location.

Make sure the wiring you have installed at your new location is of the proper type and uses the proper connectors for phone and for data. Have your phone vendor, who will be moving your system or installing a new system, verify that the telephone jacks are of the proper type. Test all connections before moving your entire office to the new location. We have been doing cabling for over 10 years in the Fargo , Moorhead area, and have had to come in on many occasions after companies have moved, and have not taken this step beforehand. It's no fun to have your employees come in to work on the first day at their new location and not be able to use their phones, faxes or internet.

ALTEL'S trained Professionals can work with you directly every step of the way. We will assess your current systems, evaluate your needs, work with your provider, and move/install your systems - allowing you peace of mind. We work closely with many other providers. Allow us to refer you to the right provider to ensure the best fit for your company. (Be aware, voice and data circuits generally take between 20 to 30 business days from the time you place the order. When you allow us to help facilitate the order, we can often times ease this process.)

Contact us today for your free analysis and quote. We work to provide solutions that could save you money!
Alternative Telecom
Moorhead MN