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Getting rid of office phone system and replacing with mobile phones for staff

  • 1.  Getting rid of office phone system and replacing with mobile phones for staff

    Posted Sep 10, 2019 17:15
    Hello NTEN Community,
    The lease for our Avaya phone equipment is coming due and we are weighing the possibility of not renewing it and just implementing company issued mobile devices for our staff of 25. Has anyone ever had experience with or done anything like this for their nonprofit and if so, what were the pros and cons of doing so?

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    Mary Beth Kelley
    Manger, Technology
    National Endowment for Financial Education
    Denver, CO
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    2020 Nonprofit Technology Conference Logo  w/ Baltimore Skyline


  • 2.  RE: Getting rid of office phone system and replacing with mobile phones for staff

    Posted Sep 11, 2019 07:44
    I can't speak to doing this at a nonprofit, but I did formerly work for a company that manages these contracts on behalf of corporations. Some things to consider as you perform your cost benefit analysis:

    1. Staff capacity to manage the contract with the cell phone company. Onboarding/offboarding, device concerns (tech support, travel, repairs/replacement, etc), billing review, vendor management, etc. For 25 people/devices, this is likely a half-time position.

    2. You will need to create policies and procedures around what will be provided, how, and to whom, acceptable use and unacceptable use (plus consequences for the latter), onboarding/offboarding issues, tech support and damage issues, etc. This needs to be in place before you implement.

    3. You presumably still need a main number and a way to route calls to people. There are plenty of relatively inexpensive web based platforms for that, such as Vonage, Google Voice, etc., or, keep your current receptionist, port the main number to her/his issued mobile device and have them give callers the number of the person they're trying to reach.

    There are other considerations, I'm sure, but I hope these are a good start for you as you begin this process.

    Best wishes!

    Susan Cornforth
    US Operations
    Self-Help International
    Waverly, IA

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    Susan Cornforth
    Self-Help International
    Waverly, IA
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    2020 Nonprofit Technology Conference Logo  w/ Baltimore Skyline


  • 3.  RE: Getting rid of office phone system and replacing with mobile phones for staff

    Posted Sep 11, 2019 09:11
    Susan nailed a lot of the key points. I did this about 10 years ago at a 50-person nonprofit with employees around the country. I'll say that vendor management was not nearly as arduous at .5 FTE. It was a small but noticeable additional responsibility for our office manager. Mainly, this was because we had a corporate plan with Verizon and unlimited voice and data, so billing issues were minimal, and device deployment happened from Verizon.

    The best thing about it is that when you're provisioning the device and determining which model(s) to deploy, you guarantee that all your apps and databases and whatnot will work on these devices. You also have substantially better control over privacy, especially when HIPPA, FERPA, GFPR, etc. are issues.

    It definitely helps to identify accessories (bluetooth headsets, phone protectors and cases, etc.) that will work for your chosen phones. We provided a modest budget to employees to purchase some accessories. It was important to us, given the substantial imposition of forcing people to carry two phones, and to use a model we selected, that we at least tried to make the new phone as comfortable to staff as possible.

    The biggest drawback we encountered was conference calling from our conference room. Mobile phones aren't suited to this use-case, and we eventually just got a landline and a one of those squidlike conference room phones.

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    Isaac Shalev
    http://www.sage70.com
    Stamford CT
    @Sage70
    isaac@sage70.com
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    2020 Nonprofit Technology Conference Logo  w/ Baltimore Skyline


  • 4.  RE: Getting rid of office phone system and replacing with mobile phones for staff

    Posted Sep 11, 2019 09:33
    Isaac, thanks for adding your thoughts! I'm amused about the conference room, just because that is the one thing we always use mobile phones for at our office! We find the virtually unlimited number of callers one can host on an iPhone very handy, and we purchased an inexpensive Bluetooth conference speaker that works great. It has an omnidirectional mic with a 15' range and we find it a far better option than using speakerphone. I hope this helps!!

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    Susan Cornforth
    Self-Help International
    Waverly, IA
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    2020 Nonprofit Technology Conference Logo  w/ Baltimore Skyline


  • 5.  RE: Getting rid of office phone system and replacing with mobile phones for staff

    Posted Sep 11, 2019 10:14
    That's a great option, the bluetooth conference speaker! I wonder if those even existed back in 2009 or so. Today everyone is using  zoom or uberconference or whatever so the actual number of callers isn't the issue as much as the clarity of the audio. A bluetooth conference speaker/mic sounds like the right answer here, thanks, Susan!

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    Isaac Shalev
    http://www.sage70.com
    Stamford CT
    @Sage70
    isaac@sage70.com
    ------------------------------

    2020 Nonprofit Technology Conference Logo  w/ Baltimore Skyline