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Installation and Testing

After you've selected a system, it's time to work closely with your vendor to plan the installation. In our recent move, we had the good fortune of occupying new space. That factor allowed us to install the new system without interrupting business.

After all of the wiring had been completed (see part 3 of this series, on cabling), we were ready to set up the phone system. Over about a two-week period, the phone system hardware, call processing, voice mail, and unified messaging servers were installed and programmed. To do the programming, I put together a spreadsheet containing each person's name, phone number, fax number, and email address. Our vendor took it from there. I looked over their shoulders the entire time, though, trying to learn everything I could about how to operate our new phone system. There were more than 100 features that we could have tweaked to customize the phone system to our liking, but we changed only about 10 things from the "out of the box" solution. We modified settings such as the number of seconds that the phone would ring before voice mail picks up; call-forwarding paths for "do not disturb," "busy," and "no answer" conditions; hold music preferences; and so on.

Take the time to understand the features of your new phone system to gain the maximum benefit out of it. After the installation is complete, make the time to test every scenario to get it ready for your employees to use. Even with the best plan, you'll find things that don't work properly or that need tweaking to get just right.

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