27th May 2019

Know Before You Buy...The TCO for Video Conferencing

Know Before You Buy...The TCO for Video Conferencing

So, you’ve decided that video conferencing is something your organization needs. Your teams are spread out across geographical regions and the cost of travel to bring them together is exorbitant and time consuming. You have a modern workforce and you need a modern, cloud-based video conferencing system to connect your employees on a consistent basis. You also need to provide the ability for your teams to connect and collaborate spontaneously whether participants are hopping on a call via mobile device while on the road, joining from a personal computer from their home office, or hosting a team meeting in a conference room, you need a solution that can accommodate any modern work scenario. And to add to the mix, there is the consideration of cost. These are your top of mind objectives when considering a video conferencing solution.

But, hold on just a second. Let’s talk a bit about the hidden expenses of a video conferencing solution that you may not be aware of and how you can maximize your budget when evaluation solutions. Things to consider are software licensing, hardware, installation and service of hardware. Vendors have different ways of charging for literally everything and it can get confusing when trying to understand all the associated expenses. It’s important for you to understand all of your options and decide on what you Let’s look at the different costs and so that you can see what’s important in your decision-making process.

Is Hardware Needed in a Cloud-Based Environment?

The short answer is…YES. However, there are many variables to your initial video conferencing equipment investment. Purchasing devices one at a time and on your own may have some short-term benefits, but this option is very short lived. The implication of video conferencing being ‘cloud based’ confuses people into thinking that webcams on laptops or inexpensive, feature poor, cheaper hardware will do the trick. That’s probably the biggest misconception of cloud-based video conferencing that exists today. As your video conferencing implementation grows and expands as your organization does, the demand for multiple devices. If your implementation grows beyond the demand for interoperability with multiple devices, your organization will require meaningful hardware upgrades. This means you could be looking at ongoing and concealed design, integration and installation costs.

A new trend that’s filling the hardware gap is having new equipment provided by a vendor that provides the hardware-as-a-service (HaaS) model. This feature eliminates completely the issues with maintenance as the vendor provides all of that. Things that are important for you to manage with this solution are:

  • Your budget
    • What do you need and what are your priorities?
    • Moving from CapEx to OpEx…does this make sense for your organization?
  • Hardware maintenance costs
    • Does the cost of an annual maintenance payment benefit you above you providing the maintenance yourself?
  • Upgrades
    • Are you paying for features that you won’t use?

The main advantage for the HaaS model that your hardware will stay updated with the latest and greatest capabilities. Another crucial consideration regarding hardware is your network speed. You’ll want to ensure it’s operating at premium levels, with minimal lag time. The minimum speed needed for streaming HD video is 5 mbps.

Just the Facts, Ma’am: What You Really Need to Purchase

If you are the one responsible for the budget, it’s critical for you to know exactly what you’re analyzing and understand the cost and benefits of all capabilities and benefits before purchasing. You’ll want to understand the following to best understand your total cost of ownership with your new video conferencing solution:

  • Initial, one-time costs: The one-time procurement price should include all necessary hardware solutions, software, and any installation costs.
  • Costs that are recurring: You’ll want to ensure that your solution can grow as your organization grows. Don’t pay for unnecessary things that you’ll never use. Licensing and pre user fees add up quickly. It’s better to underestimate your licensing needs and add to rather than purchase too many.
  • Support costs, including IT: What needs will your new solution create for your IT staff to support? Make sure you have the right support for your executive boardrooms and large conference rooms. Smaller conference rooms and Huddle Room solutions are light burdens, if any, on IT and great choices for your teams. Double up on those solutions for maximum productivity and efficiency for your workforce.

Most video conferencing software applications today offer capabilities in a variety of options and payment plans. They all seem completely necessary and cool for today’s modern workforce. Know what you need before starting these discussions or you’ll soon find out that the wants may outweigh the needs. Simple functionality additions can add up quickly without you even knowing. Here are some considerations:

  • Do you need to include H.323 systems in your video conferences? This could require an H.323 room connector enabled on your licenses.
  • Do you need virtual whiteboard capabilities that would give remote employees the ability to participate in discussions?
  • Do you need your teams to have the ability to join a meeting already in progress? Or capabilities to connect globally with international capabilities?
  • Do you need the ability to record meetings in audio and/or video? This will require cloud-based storage, so know the details of what you need in this area?

These seem like features that should be automatically included with web-based video conferencing, but you’ll be surprised when these services sneak up on you with additional fees. Don’t be caught off guard. Some simple research will help figure this out quickly. One rule of thumb is to work in a cost-per-month scenario vs. a cost-per-use scenario. This will keep your spending at predictable levels and keep surprises at bay.

We know there are many things to consider when purchasing your video conferencing solution.  If you’d like to talk more about which solution would work best for you, chat with an expert, contact us or give us a call at 888-821-7767. 

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