My guest Emily Nielsen, president of Nielsen IT Consulting, and I are back for part-three of our ongoing discussion about Unified Communication (UC) projects and deployments. So far we’ve touched on strategy and planning as well as the discovery process and defining your corporate vision. For part three, we’re going to discuss the corporate requirements that can influence your UC deployment and the tips that will help you identify which UC applications you need.
If you would like to learn more about UC strategic planning, or require independent consulting on your UC project, contact Emily Nielsen.
Ted Schirk: What corporate factors can influence a UC deployment?
Emily Nielsen: Policies, that’s the main one. One of the challenges with a UC deployment/strategy is that many “official” corporate policies have not evolved to the changing technology landscape. Quite often we see policies that have been left untouched for years.
TS: Why do you think corporations are so susceptible to this?
EN: More often than not, the understanding of corporate policies are more aligned with urban legends than reality. When we start working with a client, we find out a lot about their organization’s ability to communicate acceptable behaviours and business practices. In a recent client engagement of ours, teleworking was not sanctioned by corporate. But, some managers thought it was approved, and were allowing employees to telework.
For this reason, I always include Human Resources and a legal representative in my discovery meetings as it is important to identify any potential roadblocks up front that could be an impairment to the project. It is also important to educate HR and legal about current trends and technologies that may impact employee behaviour.
TS: Something tells me you have a step-by-step process for businesses regarding this issue.
EN: Yes, you are correct!
1. Review corporate policies such as your Technology Usage Policy and decide whether they can hold up under scrutiny in today’s high-tech environment.
2. Initiate a formalized process between HR, legal and IT that establishes quarterly reviews. Technology is always changing and evolving and corporate policies should reflect these changes.
3. Communicate policy changes to the rest of the organization and have staff acknowledge receipt and that they understand the consequences of non-compliance.
TS: Once you’ve addressed corporate requirements and obstacles, what’s the next major consideration?
EN: The next step is understanding your organization’s users’ needs and identifying the UC applications and license structures that will complement those needs. And you guessed it, I have a process for that too.
TS: Why am I not surprised, can you share that with us?
EN: Absolutely. Here is a two phase approach that I like to use.
First, start by categorizing your users into well-defined groups based on their needs. Afterwards, quantify how many users are in each group.
Below is a sample of questions you should consider when defining your work groups:
- Do you have employees that are office centric (non-mobile)? An example of this may be employees within the accounting department.
- Do you have employees that frequently move throughout your building or a number of buildings in a campus environment? An example of this would be IT or Maintenance staff.
- Do you have sales staff that are required to travel? This profile group is often termed “Road Warriors.”
Continue with this process until you have identified all types of staff working in your organization with special attention to mobility requirements and collaboration activities. After profiling and quantifying the number of staff per group, apply a growth factor to estimate the number of employees over the next 1-5 years. It is important to apply this growth factor because it will enable you to obtain a more accurate quote from your vendor. This will prevent you from having to ask for additional funds for more licenses which can lead to delays and possible criticism for not obtaining an adequate supply in your initial purchase.
TS: Okay the staff has been categorized and grouped. That really simplifies the process of determining what to buy, what is Phase two?
EN: Once you have completed your profiling, become familiar with different licensing models and features. If you are already committed to a particular vendor’s platform, it’s best to understand their licensing structure. Let’s use Cisco for this example.
A key component of Cisco’s UC licensing model is based on the number of devices an individual requires. For example, support staff might only have basic needs such as a desk phone with UC access from their computer, therefore a less expensive Enhanced User Connect License (UCL) is all that is required. Whereas a senior manager/director that sometimes works from home and wants the same experience across all devices (iPhone, iPad, and desk phone) would require the Unified Workspace Licensing (UWL) (Standard or Professional). Both the Standard and Professional UWL offer mobility functionality and will support up to 10 devices per a single user. The key difference is, the Professional license allows users to host WebEx sessions. It essentially breaks down into two license types either: 1) a-la-carte – buy just what you need or 2) a cost effective bundle of all capabilities. You can mix both a-al-carte and bundles in the same customer environment.
As you can see, it can become complicated familiarizing yourself with the licensing models that are available in today’s market. In our practice, we spend a significant amount of time helping clients align their needs to the correct license.
TS: Yes, it can seem complicated, but thanks to you, it’s a little clearer for our readers.
Check back in with Emily and I soon for the fourth and final installment of our UC blog discussion.
If you would like to learn more about Cisco’s unified communications technologies, visit our website.
Nielsen IT Consulting Inc. is an independent IT/Telecom managed services and consulting firm. Visit them online to learn about their services.