How to Choose a UCaaS Provider

Unified Communications is a fast-growing and hot topic in today’s business technology market. The Unified Communications Market is expected to reach USD$167B by 2025. But with so much information about Unified Communications available online, it can be hard to determine which UCaaS solution is right for your business. That’s why we’ve put together a short guide as a starting point.

There’s a lot that makes it great, but it can also be very complicated. We’ve broken it down in a way that will help you choose not just any UCaaS service but the best UCaaS solution for your business needs.

Choosing the right product

What is Unified Communications or UCaaS?

Unified Communications as a Service, or UCaaS, is a cloud-based technology that unites your business communications. 

UCaaS is known to offer enterprise-grade performance and features that are easy to manage. It usually expands or replaces on-premise services such as a corporate PBX, conferencing bridges, messaging applications, fax servers, and more.

What is UCaaS?

UCaaS unifies all your company communications into one central and integrated cloud communications platform. Gartner defines ucaas as

  • Telephone systems (telephony)
  • Meetings (audio/video/web conferencing)
  • Unified messaging
  • Instant messaging and presence (personal and team)
  • Mobile communications 
  • Communications-enabled business processes

UCaaS offers the benefits of Cloud computing, such as flexibility, scalability and reliability, and does not require additional hardware, cabling, or software. It moves your on-premise to a cloud-based service.

More and more companies find that managed cloud-based solutions are more cost-effective and beneficial to their employees than on-premise solutions.

Cloud-based UCaaS is one of the most reliable technologies on the market today. It allows businesses to add or remove new users as needed and expand their workforce without adding equipment or maintenance costs. They can also enable a more flexible workforce by providing additional employees with mobile devices and connectivity. It’s easy to add or remove staff with UCaaS as there is little or no capital expenditure from a communications standpoint. 

Wondering what the difference is between UCaaS and VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol)? They are related, VoIP is part of UCaaS and would be used to replace your existing phone system for cheaper calls. UCaaS builds on VoIP and adds many other features to enhance your business communications. It goes far beyond just voice communications. UCaaS providers are likely to offer (or have already integrated) web or video conferencing services like Zoom or GoToMeeting.

What are the Benefits of UCaaS?

Increasingly, businesses are turning to unified communications-as-a-service (UCaaS), in which a cloud-based e-communications platform is extended to employees through multiple devices, for its many benefits.

As work becomes more location independent, synchronous communication becomes the new reality. Knowledge workers communicate with each other and their colleagues no matter where they are. In personal life, synchronous communication is vast – as is the smartphone app. Knowledge work is becoming a continuous process where knowledge workers have their phones and laptops with them everywhere.

No upfront expenses – With the increasing virtualization of businesses and the shift from hardware to software-based business platforms, operating costs decrease. Legacy phone systems have usually been a capitalized expense. As technology advances faster than ever before, the trend is towards cloud-based services that don’t tie organizations into telephony appliances that require large capital investments.

Unify remote workers – With the massive increase in the remote workforce, this is more important than ever due to the pandemic. Most organizations have already declared that remote working will be the way of the future. You don’t need to be in the office to feel like you’re in the office. Nor do you need to be in the same time zone.

Better Customer Relations – UC services provide a Contact Center component (CCaaS – Contact Center as a Service). CCaaS seamlessly integrates with your CRM systems, such as Salesforce. Features like click to dial, call logging, call routing, voice response and much more. It offers a better experience for your customers by automatically documenting notes, recordings and interactions with your customers in your CRM. This speeds up employee access and reduces app juggling.

Video Conference on laptop

Mobility – In the post- COVID -19 era, mobility is crucial to almost every business. Mobility also helps companies attract talent with benefits like telecommuting that improve work-life balance.

Unified communications offer a flexible approach to connectivity. Employees can log in and access all the same communication tools they have in the office, including messaging, presence and video conferencing.

The global job market has shifted as a result of the pandemic. 83% of employers indicated that remote work has been a success

As a new generation that has grown up with mobile communications increasingly dominates the workforce, UC is an expected tool for conducting business.

From answering and transferring calls, SMS, team collaboration to call centers and integration with various business applications, a UCaaS solution will empower workers to stay connected and productive.

Reporting – Business leaders need to understand how their employees communicate internally and externally with customers. Analytics and reporting allow the leaders to make business decisions based on actual data. 

Centralized management – Users can be added and removed, and permissions changed. IT also gains flexibility and greater administrative control over the system. Easy Cloud-based access from any device to manage the system from anywhere. Much quicker disaster recovery to get you up and running and back to business.

Who are the top UCaaS providers?

According to Gartner’s UCaaS Magic Quadrant, the top leaders are Microsoft, RingCentral, Cisco, Zoom and 8×8. Gartner bases this on the completeness of vision and ability to execute. While these suppliers may be good choices for some businesses, they may not be the best choice for your business needs. Let’s take a look at some things you should consider as you shortlist UC providers. 

Need to Make an IT Decision?

There is no straightforward answer to this question. It’s too general to answer accurately without knowing your business requirements. Phone system shoppers should be wary of any advice provided directly from the providers themselves, advertising-based websites or fake review sites with affiliate links used to make money.

It’s like going to a car dealer and asking, “what’s the best car?”. Any good car salesperson will ask many questions about your needs before you narrow down your options to a few.

A Toyota dealership will not suggest a Honda, even if it’s the right car for you. Also, the Toyota dealer isn’t going to tell you about the weaknesses and issues with their product.

If you’re contacting a business phone provider directly, don’t expect them to tell you about the bugs, weaknesses, and contract gotchas. All the providers are going to tell you what’s great about their platform because… well, that’s what they are paid to do. Don’t expect unbiased advice.

How to choose the best UCaaS Provider

The most important question you should be asking yourself is: Who is the best UCaaS vendor for OUR business?

Let us begin with what you currently have.

  1. Are you changing from an on-premise PBX, another VoIP service or another Unified Communications service?
  2. What SaaS applications are you running (O365 / Microsoft Teams, Salesforce) or possibly planning for in the near future?
  3. Where are your office locations?
  4. Do you have overseas offices?
  5. What is your current PBX?
  6. Do you have a call center?
  7. Do you have work at home employees?
  8. What are your compliance standards required?

Other things:

  1. What is the UCaaS provider’s track record?
  2. Is the customer support any good?
  3. Can they integrate with third-party or existing services, applications?
  4. Can they replace any of my existing services with theirs to lower costs?
  5. How robust is the platform?
  6. How will the migration take place?
  7. Size of your organization, are you a large enterprise, SMB or small business with 10 or more employees.
  8. Will you need SIP trunking or SD-WAN?

Here is an online questionnaire that will help you with some of these questions.

The best way to choose a UCaaS provider is to have a trusted technology advisor research for you. He or she has already done the research and can provide an independent assessment of your business needs. The Consultants do not work for vendors; they work for you. Experienced phone system engineers will provide a detailed report, help you with contracts and much more. They tell you what UC systems to avoid and why and give you a detailed report on your business’s best choice and why. 

They often have access to more information about the providers than you will get from anywhere else. Having been involved in thousands of UCaaS implementations with different vendors, they can provide you with expert advice to ensure that your UCaaS implementation is successful.

Trusted advisors get paid by the vendors once a deal is closed and do not charge you, their customer. They represent dozens of providers as channel partners, so it’s more important that they recommend the right solution for your business. They advise on all kinds of business technology solutions, so if you’re happy with their services, they hope your business will be a long term customer.

A trusted advisor is the best way to choose a unified communication platform for your business.

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