Unified communications requires a unified implementation plan

Understanding mission and business needs are keys to successful unified communications

When money’s tight, you have to have a good business case to justify installing a unified IP communications platform.

The expanded functionality of a voice-over-IP system that is integrated with an enterprise directory and e-mail server can offer greater convenience and efficiency to an increasingly mobile workforce. But that does not mean implementing such a system will be cheap or easy.

“It’s a very complex system,” said Kim McKinney, chief information officer and information technology director for Broome County, N.Y. “There are a lot of components and a lot of parts. You have to go through that in detail.”


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Broome County is in the process of introducing a unified communications platform from Cisco Systems. The county has the advantage of a recently completed network upgrade that was made with an eye toward VOIP, and it received attractive financing from Cisco. But getting the deal done depended on having a systems integrator that understood the county’s needs.

“You need to find a vendor that understands the business and is very thorough,” McKinney said.

Broome County used CDW Government for both network upgrades. The county approved the unified communications project because it expected to produce immediate savings, so officials had to trust the integrator that projected those savings.

“Other vendors tried to sell to us without knowing how we did business,” McKinney said.

CDW-G account executive Dan MacIvor said building a case for the project based on the county’s business drivers made the project a success.

“The Broome County engagement was exactly what you want,” he said. “If I could do them all that way, my life would be easy.”

About the Author

William Jackson is freelance writer and the author of the CyberEye blog.

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