I’ll never forget the first time that I made a terrible decision. I’m not talking about something as trivial as picking rocky road ice cream when I should have gone with mint moose tracks. It was the kind of terrible decision that would get me thrusted into the spotlight for public scrutiny and shaming. It would cause people to look at me with disdain and led to a number of “What were you thinking?” types of conversations. Now before your imagination takes off on the possible scandal in which I was involved, let me reign it in for you. It was my first management job and I was responsible for selecting and deploying the customer relationship management (CRM) platform that the small business I worked for would use to replace its paper filing system. Let’s just say, I made the wrong choice.

Maybe you, like I was, are at the place of needing to implement a new business solution and you want to be certain that you don’t make a terrible decision. It could be because your current tool isn’t doing the job you hoped or because you don’t have a tool at all. Well, in today’s blog, I’m exploring some of the common reasons that business communications tools fall short of expectations and will provide some ideas on how you can avoid making the wrong choice. If you’re interested in hearing more, I invite you to join me on November 20 for my live webinar, “How to Master the Cloud Communications Vendor Selection Process.”

Begin with the End in Mind

As a student of Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, I can’t emphasize enough the importance of having your end goal in mind when making any decision, let alone a technology purchase. In the context of picking the right communications platform, this means having a clear picture of what you’d like to accomplish after implementation. It could be as simple as elevating your business presence, reducing your costs or integrating with key systems. I recommend dividing your requirements using the MoSCoW method: Must have, Should have, Could have, Won’t Have. This provides clarity to both you and your potential solution provider.

Verify Current Features and the Product Roadmap

After you’ve compiled your MoSCoW list, compare it directly to your potential provider’s current capabilities. While you might see marketing materials or discuss necessary certifications (like HIPAA compliance) it doesn’t mean that it’s a feature that’s available today or is even on the near-term roadmap. I made the mistake of buying into a salesperson who promised to make all of my dreams come true without validating what was the current vs. future state of the platform. Don’t just take a vendor’s word for it—validate their ability to make it happen for you.

Don’t Assume the State of Integrations

Speaking of validation, I’d be doing you a disservice if I didn’t address the point of integrations. Depending on your existing tools or total business needs, you might have the need for your communications platform to integrate with those other solutions. This often presents you, the buyer, with one of two options. The first is to consider going the route of multiple integrations. Believers of this approach do it for multiple reasons, whether it’s a best-in-breed mentality, reluctance to change or looming technical debt. Buyer beware! The challenges with this approach can be quite complex as using the technology can be cumbersome, data is stored in disparate places and, in some cases, the integrations aren’t even complete yet. While a company may announce an integration “on paper,” the actual process could take months or even years. Like my advice above, validate what’s there before making a choice.

This brings me to the second option, which is to look for an integrated technology platform that provides all of your communication needs—voice, video, chat and contact center—in one place. It’s what sets 8x8 apart and is the reason that many businesses choose us. But you don’t have to take my word for it—this summer, Gartner named 8x8 an 8-time Magic Quadrant Leader in Unified Communications as a Service, Worldwide.

Look, I know that selecting a new vendor can be complicated and confusing. Join me for my live webinar where I’ll be taking questions from the audience, providing tips to avoid common mistakes and helping you simplify the process of selecting a cloud communications vendor. Sign up today.