It is hard to believe, but with Q4 about to begin the 2016 budgeting cycle is already upon us. If your business is typical, budget dollars for capital spending projects and new operating expenses are always at a premium. Good preparation on the front end can ensure that your employees have the technology they need at a price you can afford.

Moreover, the rapid pace of change in communications technology has in recent years caused many companies both large and small to resist making new investments in their communications infrastructure. This phenomenon and the emergence of newer technologies (like hosted UC) has caused an overall decrease in the number of “lines shipped” (end user phones) across the market. Thanks to these conditions, the business customer is experiencing a favorable purchasing environment. Now is the time to be planning your Unified Communications strategy for 2016.

Budgeting for Unified CommunicationsHere are some tips on good planning for your communications system heading into the next year:

Even if you do not anticipate a purchase in the next six months, now is the best time to request budgetary pricing for inclusion within the 2016 budget and planning process. This holds true regardless of whether you are looking at a CAPEX or OPEX model.

Schedule demos this fall to vet your technology choices and evaluate different service providers. Even if you don’t settle on a particular technology or provider, you will, at least, narrow your range of options down to two or three finalists. This will also enable you to see newly released features and functionality that you might not have been thinking about at the outset of your process. You don’t know what you might be missing.

Many organizations have amassed a patchwork of different legacy systems for voice, conferencing, web collaboration, chat and video. To the extent you can consolidate these types of applications on a truly unified communications platform, you will realize both cost and productivity benefits.

More is better. And, as more mission-critical applications ranging from email to CRM to storage and ERP are moved to the cloud, procuring more capacity at a lower price point becomes, even more, important for your business. Speak with your carrier or network agent to make sure you are getting the most bang for your buck. We see the cost of bandwidth dropping and capacity increasing across geographies. New providers like Google Fiber are entering the market.

Create room in your 2016 budget by shopping your network connectivity.