Office telephone and ICT network facilities
by Mike Wills, Backbone (UK) Ltd
If you are setting up your own company there are many organisations such as banks, accountants, Business Links and enterprise agencies to offer you advice on how to market your company and develop your product. But when it comes to setting yourself up with technology and equipment, people seem to assume you should already know what you want.
- you know you need a good deal for both your landline(s) and mobile(s), but the packages on offer are difficult to compare. Are there any savings to be made by switching to one of the new telecom companies?
- you know you need a PC, but what is the best option for your needs?
- your business may need some software, for example an accounting package and contact database, but what are the best solutions?†
- the Internet has become a major part of business; how will it affect your company?
Support equipment for a business can be expensive, so take time to consider the points below and weigh up the expense against the functionality. In the same way as you develop ideas, consider options and get advice for your business spend time assessing your requirements and the solutions to support it.
- what business activity will you be doing and how can it be helped by technology?
- what facilities or support do you need?
- do you know anyone with experience who might be able to help you with questions about technology and business facilities?
You will probably need:
- telephones: landline(s), mobile(s), fax line, modem, ISDN, ADSL
- computers: hardware, software, networks, accessories
- office equipment: fax machine, photocopier, answer machine
- Internet: Internet Service Providers (ISPs) for connectivity, website hosting and website design.
Hints and tips
- beware too much functionality: often people end up buying something that is too complex and has facilities they never actually use
- don't get pushed into 'state of the art' items by salesmen: remember it is their job to make you buy more. Get them to explain the product's abilities in simple terms, without jargon. Do some research and check out product reviews in magazines. Talk to people you know who have recent user experience.
- buy things that can be upgraded or discarded economically: technology is developing so fast that new and better things will be available tomorrow. So you can simply fulfil your immediate requirements, as long as you purchase a system that can be changed or upgraded when your business needs it and when you can afford it.
- telecoms: the new telecoms companies often offer good deals, but make sure they don't tie you in for too long. Consider using a telecoms broker, who will find you the best deal without the hassle.
- ISDN: similar basic cost to an equivalent number of business analogue lines but provides more functionality if you need two or more phone lines
- after the 'beep': answer machines are generally not good for customer service, so consider an answering service or installing further phone lines
- you will probably have fax capabilities built into your PC, or a fax to email number, but if it is not always on or you donít have a scanner you may still need a fax machine.
- be careful of "wonder" deals: like buying fruit, you can often get better deals down at the market rather than at the supermarket which is offering the 'best and latest' package
- support: make sure that the computer and software has effective helpline assistance if you encounter problems
- hardware: if you are doing little more than word processing and spreadsheet work, you don't need a high specification or multi-media add-ons
- software: there is a theory that 80% of people only use 20% of their software's functionality
- accessories: at the least you will need to have printers, make back-ups and possibly network computers
- ISP: there is a great deal of "confusion marketing" in the ISP arena. Select a simple service that fulfils your requirements and provides good support
- website host: there are several advantages in using a separate website hosting company
- website design: websites must be useful and informative to pay dividends and it is worth spending time and money getting them right
Further pointers can be provided by business support organisations, such as enterprise agencies, Chambers of Commerce and Business Links. Vendors like Office World, PC World and the Car Phone Warehouse have material to review, but remember they are selling a product. Contractors and consultants can do some research for you and will help install the equipment - for a price.
Reviewed January 2011
last updated : 21/01/2011
See also our UK ICT Directory for supplier lists and links
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