It’s a fact that the shops and catalogues are full of what are called business telephones.

Some of these appear to be powerful and relatively low cost systems but they all may need to be evaluated against criteria other than price.

· Expansion potential. As your business grows (and you presumably hope that it will) you may need to your business telephone system to grow with you. Can the system you’re looking at actually make that happen easily and cheaply?

· Business telephones often need to integrate with other components of your office technology infrastructure such as faxes, local site connections and possibly PC networks. What options for such does it offer?

· Service and support. However sophisticated and modern the technology, it may go wrong. If your business is without its phones, you’ll want help – and fast. What services in those areas does the supplier offer? It’s worth checking contract guarantees here because vague ‘statements of good intent’ may not count for much in a crisis.

· Office systems. Modern business telecoms systems have the potential to provide you with powerful admin support including things such as call re-routing, follow-me calls, menu systems, voice mail and so on. If a system can’t provide these services, even if you may not need them immediately, then it might hold your business back in future.

· Maintenance. Even state-of-the-art systems require maintenance and support from time-to-time. This is different to breakdown cover – it’s about proactive review of things such as system performance logs etc. What, if anything, does the supplier offer along those lines?

· Reliability. Like all other forms of technology, some manufacturers in this area have an established global reputation for innovation and quality. Is the manufacturer you’re looking at, one such company or are they someone you’ve never heard of? Buying unproven technology from a manufacturer with little verifiable track record may prove risky.

Business telephones can either revolutionise your business or prove a millstone around its neck. Taking the time to select a suitable system is important.