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7 Things You Need to Know When Evaluating a UCaaS Provider

Thanks to the work-from-home movement, more employees, customers and business partners are now accustomed to leveraging UCaaS tools as part of their normal workflows. However, where a quick setup was the priority in the early days of COVID-19, businesses today are savvier about what they want out of a digital collaboration solution. Organizations are increasingly looking for ways to optimize their consumption and improve their UCaaS expense management.

Whether you’re planning to sign up with a new UCaaS provider or preparing to negotiate a renewal with an existing service, we’ve put together 7 things you need to know to as you evaluate UCaaS solutions.

1. Cost Structures Vary

Rate calculations depend heavily on the UCaaS provider. Enterprises that have Microsoft365 subscriptions, for example, may prefer Teams as their primary collaboration platform because it’s already included in the existing monthly package. Businesses using Google Workspace might opt for Zoom or Cisco if the Meet platform doesn’t fully address their needs. Before heading into negotiations, look at your current ecosystem and determine which features (if any) may already be available to your users. From there you can identify any other functionality you’d like to add and have a better idea of what your final costs will look like across your organization.

2. Beyond Zoom vs. Teams

The Zoom vs. Teams debate dominates the UCaaS collaboration discussion, but other solutions are available that may be more suitable for your needs. RingCentral, 8x8 and Cisco (along with Microsoft and Zoom) all earned Gartner’s Magic Quadrant Leader designation in 2021. Across the spectrum, some UCaaS vendors are more prominent in the small to midsize business sector while others focus on the enterprise space. Many providers boast extensive partner networks - some offer white glove services and a few have niche capabilities such as fax services and unique pricing structures.

3. Fine Tune Features for Maximum User Productivity

The reduction in traditional telephony usage has led users to adopt a hybrid strategy for collaboration, and workers are turning to UCaaS tools for a wider array of use cases. Where a straightforward, web-based solution may have done the trick just a few years ago, consider if your users now require any of the more advanced functionalities below:

  • Do you have a lot of mobile users? Some platforms perform better on mobile devices than others depending on the OS.
  • If you need cloud PBX support, Zoom’s offering is robust and their prices are typically attractive.
  • Organizations with complex hierarchies may benefit from the breakout room functionality available in Cisco’s Webex.

4. The Right UCaaS Provider = Better User Experience

Organizations need to know if a single UCaaS provider can meet their needs, or if their user base requires multiple services to deliver the best experience.

In a recent survey conducted by RingCentral and market research firm Ipsos, 69% of US workers said that connecting digitally through voice or video calls is as good as in-person for work-related tasks.

Retail organizations, for example, might use Zoom to engage with customers but leverage Teams for internal collaboration. Businesses operating in healthcare may choose a HIPAA-complaint UCaaS solution such as Webex for patient interactions, with employees accessing a different platform for operational activities. Reporting and data analysis typically become more complex when multiple solutions are in use, and it’s important to develop a strategy to manage UCaaS spend and optimization in hybrid environments.

5. Minutes Matter

Which rate structure is right for you? UCaaS minutes may be pooled, metered, unmetered or bound by geographic restrictions. Teams doesn’t currently offer an unlimited calling plan, but it does enable multiple users to share minutes within the same geographic region. If you have a mix of heavy and light phone users, you can configure plans to balance those and avoid overages. Zoom, on the other hand, has an unlimited plan for a flat monthly rate, but you might pay for buckets of minutes that you don’t actually need or use.

6. Yes, You Can Negotiate That Contract!

Most UCaaS providers will fine tune their contracts, service offerings and prices to some degree. We’ve found Zoom to be more amenable to contract variances, likely due to their strong desire to continue growing their subscriber base. Microsoft recently made several tweaks to their Microsoft365 plans, so check them out again if you previously couldn’t find a package that suited your needs. RingCentral has been known to set up contracts where a direct inward dial (DID) number must be assigned before new users begin to incur charges. By knowing your negotiation strategy up front, you can secure lower rates for the services you want.

7. Flexibility for Future Optimization is More Important Than Ever

Grand View Research expects the UCaaS market to expand at a compound annual growth rate of over 23% from 2021 to 2028. As your organization’s consumption of cloud services evolves, you need the insights to right-size your UCaaS deployments. Every vendor is a snowflake when it comes to their data accessibility and retention policies. Teams stores direct routing data for over 6 months and phone records for up to 12 months, while meeting usage is retained for 30 days. Zoom’s retention is 6 months for all services. Microsoft has historically been difficult to work with on right-sizing and gaining access to call record data. By comparison, Zoom generally makes data access easier but it’s very high level and may not deliver the insights you need.

Visualize, Control, and Optimize Your UCaaS

Regardless which UCaaS provider(s) best fit your organization, license usage and spend are difficult to centralize alone. Calero offers SaaS and UCaaS expense management, allowing your team to visualize your entire technology estate in one platform. Take control and make strategic decisions for your UCaaS with a powerful solution.

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