Can you trust your IPT vendor?

Are you in search of a good Cisco IP Telephony vendor? If so, stand in line and take a number.

With the sudden emergence of Cisco Voice the need for voice engineers has increased. There are countless projects where companies are installing Cisco Voice, but there aren’t a lot of voice engineers to go around for everyone. Therefore, companies are outsourcing voice engineering services to companies that have this expertise in house, but in some cases are finding out later that their “expert” isn’t really an expert. So the question then becomes “Can you trust your IPT vendor?”

I can honestly say that I know of a few companies with experienced voice experts inside their shop, and I know of a few that I wouldn’t allow next to my system within a 10-foot pole. So how does one go about finding out if your IPT vendor is doing you justice?

For one, review previous projects conducted by the vendor. Contact the vendor’s customer and ask questions on how well the vendor communicated in the past. This is usually a good key indicator of if the vendor will keep you in the loop on issues rather than disguise them to resolve later. Usually poor communication leads to poor performance.

Next, review the vendor’s ability to provide design documentation, such as templates used on previous projects or just Visio diagrams. I can’t tell you how many systems I’ve seen where the vendor has neglected to provide documentation after an install. This usually means “we don’t care”.

You should also request the resume of the engineer that is assigned to your company for supporting your IPT system; check the person’s certifications and job experience. There are a lot of companies that have a solid sales team, but poor engineering core.

Finally, ask for a maintenance schedules including tasks that will be performed on a weekly or monthly basis. Always set up a verification process, such as a sign off sheet, for when these tasks are completed. This keeps the vendor in check and protects you if the support contract isn’t renewed since you’ll know exactly where you stand with your existing system. You don’t want to find out months later that your system hasn’t be patched or has serious problems.

Whether you’re selecting a Cisco IPT vendor or keeping your existing one in check, it is important to know what to look for. Take the extra steps in making sure you are verifying the vendor pervious performance or existent work. Not doing so, can lead to problems in the future such as downtime and frustration. All of which equates to losing money.

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1 comment

  1. Ted Trentler Reply

    No matter who your IPT vendor is, I always recommend a second opinion just as if you were going to have major surgery. What I mean by this is that once the Cisco Partner provides you a proposal, hire an Independent Cisco consultant as a third party to review their proposal and design plan. When you hire this consultant you should make them aware they are not being hired to win this contract but just to find what your vendor missed so they can provide a better implementation.

    I’ve found several IPT vendors can provide very nice looking design plans, but even though they are impressive in scope, sometimes they are very cookie cutter and not tailored to a client’s best needs.

    Just my .02