Improvements and advancements to online conferencing software have been a great advantage to every industry and sector, as well as for private use, in making communication easier and more accessible. The one down side is that there are now so many options available that it can be difficult to narrow down the right one for your specific needs. How can you tell the genuine systems from the cheap knock-offs? Some setups are designed only for one-on-one personal use, while others can handle large multi-user conferences. This quick guide should tell you how to locate the right program for IT purposes amongst the many available:
- List Your Needs
Just as you would do when choosing any piece of equipment, the easiest way to locate your perfect piece of equipment is to list what you need from it. This will be dependent on your company or department’s needs, the amount of people who will be using the system, and your existing technology. Will you need software that will work across continents? Will your company need a support number to contact? Will you be using it for small meetings, large seminars, or both? Your annual or monthly budget for conferencing will also have to be considered at this stage. Many companies try to save money by only choosing free programs, but then see that it fails to meet their needs.
- Compare Each Program
Now that you know your specifications, you will need to compare each software provider side by side to see which one most closely meets your requirements, and which one is within your budget. Many computing websites and magazines have these comparison charts updated yearly, such as this useful one from PCMag. These charts may bring up some features you hadn’t yet considered or tell you about some providers you hadn’t previously known about. The best ones will also have links to additional reviews you can read.
You will likely have whittled down your choices to two or three options now, but this alone isn’t enough to make your choice. Now you will have to do some investigating yourself to find out more about each piece of equipment, how easy it is to use, and the experiences other users have had. This can be done easily by reading online reviews or even better, by asking people in-person about how the supplier has worked for them and how good the customer service and support was. You could find some systems have worked wonderfully for others but others failed to live up to expectations. Most of the best video meeting for IT suppliers such as BlueJeans will also provide you with a free trial, usually either 14 days or 30 days, for you to try out their services and decide if it is right for you. An advantage to this is that it allows you to get to know the equipment and how it works before you make your choice of service and begin to pay for it.
- Additional Requirements
Ideally, you want to choose equipment that will be compatible with the devices and applications your office already uses, or is accessible to your outside clients, customers, and contractors. This is especially important now as more and more people are using mobile devices for conferencing, such as smartphones and tablets, rather than just their computers. Now is a good time to see if your shortlisted software allows for this or if you will have to invest in additional new equipment. This will eat into your budget even further so it is important to know what you are signing up for. Information Age recommends checking your existing bandwidth, audio and video equipment, frame rate, and cloud storage.
- Free Trial
The best method of all for deciding which is right for you is to try it out for yourself. It is best to try out each potential program at least once, preferably with just a small number of people at first, note how well it works for them, how easy it is for the lay user, and which one clicks best with the people you work with. This way you can locate what is right for your business without having to fork out any additional money for a system that isn’t ideal. You also won’t have to go through the process of cancelling your subscription and standing order and won’t have to constantly switch between suppliers and instruct the office on how to use a new one.
Choosing between the dozens of different conferencing systems available may seem like a long and difficult task that serves only to distract from more important work, but it doesn’t have to be. By following the above guide, you will turn it into a much simpler process and will find the software that is right for your business’ specific needs and bring yourselves into the new age of business communication.