The popularity of Cloud Computing and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) have grown dramatically over the last five years. The poster child for this movement is Saleforce.com, but there are literally dozens of business applications now being provided securely and cost effectively over the Internet.
For many small and medium sized companies, Communications-as-a-Service (CaaS, hosted VoIP dial-tone) has become a popular alternative to an in-house managed phone system. However, for larger organizations, it doesn’t necessarily make sense to go “all in” and outsource their entire voice infrastructure. For these organizations, taking a more selective approach makes a lot more sense.
That’s where call accounting comes in. For many organizations, it is one application that doesn’t always get the time or attention it needs when managed in-house. After all, it’s not dial tone or voice-mail, so end users don’t usually notice that it’s not available. That is until a request comes in from Security or HR for specific calls by an employee. Then, if it’s not available, it gets noticed and not in a good way.
For this reason, it’s an application that lends itself to a SaaS based approach. A vendor that provides call accounting via SaaS acts as an expert partner, keeping a close eye on the collection and storage of your call detail records. With 24×7 accesses via secure web browser and redundant collection and storage capabilities, a SaaS vendor is uniquely equipped to make sure your call data is there when you need it.
For 3.1 more reasons, read on…
Organizations that take advantage of a Cloud approach to call accounting spend less time and energy on deployment and operational issues. Even under the best of circumstances, operation of an on-site system requires management time and focus to coordinate support from internal resources and supervise the day-to-day operations. However, when things are not going smoothly (i.e. the “typical” day in the life of a voice operations team), management usually spends an inordinate amount of time trying to understand “what happened” and “how it can be fixed”. Time that all managers know could be spent on more important issues.
In addition, with a Cloud approach you will reduce direct staff time and focus can be devoted to system operation. This not only saves time for your staff in the daily operation of a system, but also time that would be needed from your internal infrastructure groups (i.e. Network Operations, Network Security, Server Support, etc.) to deploy and support a web-based solution.
The operation of a system in-house also requires a great deal more training. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for the staff positions in charge of call accounting to be an area of high turnover. This compounds the problem as time and attentions are not only spent operating the system, but also in training and ensuring that adequate backup staff is trained as well.
When it comes to deploying the initial solution, a Cloud based approach is usually deployed and fully operational in about thirty to forty-five days. In contrast, it’s not unusual for the acquisition of the server environment (either physical or virtual) to take that amount of time for an on-site solution. After the server environment is in place, application software needs to be installed and tested, administrators trained and the process of collecting call records put in place. Full deployment often takes up to ninety days or even longer, delaying the benefits of the solution by almost two months.
A Cloud approach also reduces the inherent risk of upgrading an on-site system to incorporate new features or patch existing bugs. Almost all call accounting vendors provide new features on a regular basis. With an on-site system, the decision to upgrade to a new release can be difficult. Many times, upgrading causes unanticipated problems resulting in costly delays in reporting or, even worse, lost data. Even relatively smooth upgrades might require upgraded hardware which increases the risk even more. With a Cloud approach, the upgrade is performed in a controlled hardware and software environment by the vendors’ staff that is trained specifically to perform the task.
3. Keeping Your Options Open
No one likes making mistakes, but even the most extensive search and evaluation process does not always end up with good results. On top of that, many call accounting vendors have been acquired or ceased operations in the last few years. Some users, who purchased application software, found themselves with a product that is no longer supported or, at best, is being phased out in favor of the acquiring company’s product line.
With a Cloud approach, some vendors offer contract terms as short as ninety days. With low upfront costs and pay-as-you-go monthly fees, you lower the risk of choosing the wrong vendor or application. A Cloud approach reduces or eliminates this risk by allowing you to avoid a large capital outlay for the purchase of the software and hardware and can make it easier to take a new direction.
3.1 Little Thing$ Add Up
A Cloud based approach means no annual warranties, no tariff database, no server upgrades and no server maintenance. In many situations, these costs, along with the internal labor costs of managing an on-site system, will exceed the monthly pay-as-you-go service fees of a Cloud based offering. And that does not even take into account the depreciation costs for the original purchase of software and hardware.
A SaaS approach to call accounting may not be right for all situations, but there’s certainly a case to be made. It’s an approach all smart technology managers should be evaluating when it comes to their call accounting needs.