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Sizing Your IP-PBX Deployment: When To Move Up

How big do you need to be before installing your own Tikal Networks IP-PBX? from: freedigitalphotos.net

How big do you need to be before installing your own Tikal Networks IP-PBX? from: freedigitalphotos.net

Today’s Asterisk™ platform as an IP-PBX or call center, is targeted more towards medium size enterprise installations. On the low end, up to 50 extensions PBX installations (or 20 call agents), hosted solutions and integrated hardware systems serve the needs adequately. In the higher end, 1,000 extensions PBX and 200 call agents, large legacy systems from the traditional telephony suppliers still hold their ground. This leaves the “middle ground” for Asterisk™. This brings up the issue of how do you size up your IP-PBX, Call Center or legacy upgrade Asterisk project? Essentially, when does it make sense for an IT manager to engage with an Asterisk integrator? What are the key factors when considering a professionally integrated Asterisk installation?

Most Asterisk PBX and contact center customers seek a professional integrator like Tikal Networks only when a project is needed. By “needed” I mean operationally needed to support business operations in a short-range of time, almost immediately (at the most 3 months). When the current system is not effective enough. When the operation needs more extensions (call center stations), or more effective management to increase call center efficiency. This brings up the question what can the Asterisk platform bring managers operational efficiency. Breaking down operational efficiency, look at the following size factors:

  • How many extensions and call center stations do you need as you expand?
  • How efficient are the call agents?
  • How efficient it the call center managers? How can you manage your resources better?
  • What will happen to internal phone communication with free global calls? (IP-PBX)
  • What will managers and staff do with BI, CRM and ERP integration?
  • How will decrease in telephony cost be used to help business operations?

If the cost of adding a 100 seat call center runs at $50,000 and takes two months. How will you operation benefit from a $500 per seat complete cost? What will be the time-span of investment recovery? If you already have a partial IP telephony infrastructure or handsets, the cost will be lower. If you are integrating or upgrading an older analog system, the cost of a new system will bring more benefits than simply using the old system in new ways (i.e. integrating more CRM features into an analog or hardware build call center). Some of these are strategic questions. These are less quantitative and are harder to justify just in dollars spent.

This brings up the question what can the Asterisk platform bring managers who are looking for strategic advantage. If we are talking strategic and not tactical, it means calculating ROI not based strictly on operational benefit. Now justification has to be calculated on a smaller installation. If you give everyone in your organization call center features, what benefit would it give your company? If you have seamless global extension dialing, what the increase in phone use bring to management and staff? If you add BI, CRM and ERP integration. Then add more management features, like statistics and immediate call routing control, now a department with 50 people or a call center with 15 agents may be a good target for a professionally integrated Asterisk installation. The benefits of a leading telecom system are so strategic, that sometimes IT managers calculate based only on operational improvement. Sometimes it takes a large installation that is hard to maintain by IT and telephony technicians to justify a new Asterisk upgrade. But that does not have to be the case. Tikal Networks regularly meets customers who are willing to install a new system for just one department (marketing and sales). Then quickly realized that everyone in the company would benefit from such a system. So you can go at it in incremental steps.


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