Customize your unified communications project to your agency's mission while considering future needs
Here are the best tips and advice offered by industry watchers on how to use unified communications in government.
• Deploy the capabilities or specific apps that make the most sense for your organization. Few agencies will need all the available UC solutions. Instead, it’s best to focus on the capabilities needed by different types of workers based on their roles and communications requirements — for example, whether they are mobile or deskbound.
• Think in terms of custom apps rather than commodity services, such as traditional voice communications. The most successful agencies are those that are willing to investigate what’s available and test solutions that resolve specific challenges rather than trying to build a universal UC implementation.
• Seek the shortest path to someone in upper management who controls the primary stakeholder groups. It’s tough to figure out how to charge or pay for UC services because multiple groups will use various apps so you need a leader who will champion the UC effort and make the important decisions that can get the job done.
• Strive to simplify current networks. By standardizing on IP, agencies can reduce management burdens and associated costs. Decreasing the number of dedicated networks and access links will also help, along with shrinking the number of suppliers and contractors used.
• Optimize network controls. If application performance lags as traffic increases, costly bandwidth might not be the best solution. It might be better to defer bandwidth upgrades in favor of combining all traffic onto the same circuits. Prioritizing traffic via class of service can also help establish rules and improve performance for latency-sensitive apps such as voice over IP.
• Continue to invest in open, industry-standard architectures. That means supporting all applications and traffic types via a single transmission protocol.
• Focus on productivity features. Minimize access competition for vital applications — especially chat and high-bandwidth video — because most users won’t tolerate sluggish applications and slow page loads. Unifying voice and data communications with shared e-mail and voice mail and adopting more collaborative tools for social networking and conferencing will also increase productivity.
• Keep the focus on total cost of ownership and cost containment. By consolidating networks and optimizing network resources, agencies gain better volume-based pricing from suppliers. Agencies can also take advantage of IP infrastructures to consolidate traffic and decommission specialized routers and other network equipment.