Many industries are currently facing the need for digitalizing their team communication solutions. Moving from push-to-talk radios to futureproof smart solutions requires lots of planning to succeed. But how to avoid major pitfalls in transition? And how to guarantee the continuity of operations and to keep up the performance throughout the changes?
Communication boils down to the press of a button with push-to-talk (PTT). PTT functionality means that every member of your team can be reached at the same time, even if they’re out of earshot. In practice, push-to-talk helps improve worker safety and operational efficiency when compared to traditional one-to-one voice calls.
If there’s a problem with the traditional walkie-talkie type of devices, it’s that they are inevitably going to be replaced at some point by new digital solutions. And unless you plan wisely, your implementation might miss critical features or support for the tools your teams are already using. Here are my views about things to consider.
What is the most important thing to do when adopting or upgrading a team communication solution?
When companies move to or establish a new, smart team communication solution, they generally do it because their previous communication solution is either obsolete, fallen out of support, or there are simply no spare parts available.
In between conception and obsolescence, however, your previous solution acquired a lot of functionality while often being composed of different technologies – SIP trunking, radios, DMR, mobile phones, and more. All of this may be getting ripped out and replaced, but before you do that, you need to understand what you’re replacing.
- What environmental conditions were these units used in?
- What functionality did your previous technologies achieve?
- Which organizational groups could speak to one another?
Understanding your existing system is so critical because it minimizes the risk of having inadequate features and capabilities.
Developing and implementing a smart push-to-talk solution
Finding your stakeholders is central to the correct implementation of a smart push-to-talk solution. These are the individuals who know how the old system was set up, who will benefit from a new system, who will implement the new system, and who will ultimately administer it.
- Operational staff know the details of your current solution. They can tell you why it’s set up the way it is, as well as which features are most useful/most important. When it comes to translating your current solution into a new one, these are your most important allies.
- IT department staff will be the ones who inevitably implement and maintain your new team communications solution, providing firewall access, IP connections, and more.
- Health, safety, and environment (HSE) staff represent among the most important users of your new solution. Their input is invaluable when it comes to getting it right.
Not only does consulting with your stakeholders help you design a better and more responsive push-to-talk solution, it also helps you with the second part of the equation – making sure your workers actually use their new software and devices.
Encouraging the new solution adoption
Resistance to change is a factor whenever you’re switching to a new technology. Remember that your existing solution has been in place for years – for your veteran employees, it’s all they’ve ever known.
If your employees resist using new services or devices, the results could be dangerous. The result could be slowing down or even preventing efficiency. Imagine an emergency situation in which employees aren’t familiar with using their smart PTT gear – people could get hurt before they know an incident is taking place.
If you’re working with the stakeholders above, it should be easier to encourage the adoption of the new solution – but a note of caution. You need to engage stakeholders from all levels – not just the leadership of particular groups. Tell them what you’re doing and why you’re doing it, accept their input, and provide training. This will take you a long way towards acceptance.
Do you build in-house or adopt a cloud service?
If you build your own push-to-talk system, you own it – which is a distinct advantage in the minds of many. On the other hand, if you own it, you have to invest in it.
Ownership doesn’t just mean purchasing the equipment. It also means a whole lot of hidden costs: implementing the equipment, maintaining the equipment, applying software patches, performing upgrades, fixing the equipment if it fails, and maintaining a corps of team members who can do all of the above.
While you may be able to do all of this, none of it is your core business, which is why an easier approach is often preferred. When you work with a provider who offers smart team communication solutions as a service, you gain all the benefits of a smart push-to-talk service with much smaller ongoing costs. The provider handles all of the implementation, maintenance, and upgrades – plus even some of the training. And the best thing is, you still don't lose the option to smoothly migrate from your existing solution to the new one - with a cloud-based service you can simultaneously use both solutions to guarantee the operational efficiency and a rational stepwise adoption of the new solution.
One final advantage of a smart push-to-talk solution as a service is that infrastructure doesn’t accumulate in the same way – there’s no technological patchwork that you’ll need to eventually rip and replace. Therefore, if you get it wrong – if features and adoption aren’t everything you’d hoped for – then switching to an alternative setup becomes much easier.
Interested in knowing what criteria a professional push-to-talk solution should fulfill? Download our Push-to-Talk Checklist today!
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