Video conferencing evaluation checklistBy Sara Moseley
Finding the right video solution is a big job. To help you choose the right solution for your company we’ve compiled a helpful video conferencing evaluation checklist that will share how you can:
- Build your search process on a solid business strategy
- Engage with the right people to determine your company’s needs
- Prioritize your evaluation criteria
- Develop a strong roster of vendors
- Build a compelling business case for outstanding candidates
- Get answers to critical questions
By following our checklist, you’ll soon be on your way to more efficient meetings, vivid in-room collaboration, and powerful video capabilities that will take your company’s productivity to new heights.
Checkpoint 1: Determine if your current solution is working
Regardless of how much a legacy system costs, one thing is certain: if people aren’t using it, it’s costing you more than it’s worth by impeding collaboration and innovation. To evaluate the success of your current video solution we recommend 4 steps:
- Analyze Usage Data: Your current system’s software should equip you with customizable, user-friendly reports featuring real-time usage data. Use these reports to compare baseline usage and outliers. Baselines will tell you whether your system is generating value company-wide. Outliers will give you an idea of where to look for exceptional use cases.
- Get Input From IT: If IT is routinely called to troubleshoot meetings, your solution isn’t working.
- Get Employee Feedback: Email surveys are great for gaining company-wide feedback. For more in-depth understanding, invite outliers and stakeholders to participate in focus groups.
- Shadow a Video Conference: Ask leaders if you can shadow their next video meeting. Note all issues (audio/video/screen sharing, etc.), and measure time lost, which helps pinpoint a system’s weakness.
Checkpoint 2: Determine your evaluation criteria
Determining what you want and need in a video system is one of the most critical steps of the process. There are three things you should do to determine your evaluation criteria:
- Gather Feedback from End Users: Every department uses video for different purposes. Before contacting video vendors, learn how each department plans to use video. Identify influencers and engage them in the decision-making process to increase adoption of the new system.
- Organize & Document Requirements: To keep track of complex input from multiple departments, have an organization and documentation system in place before you send out your first survey. Start by organizing your evaluation criteria into categories that investigate:
- Features & Functionality
- Ease-of-Use/End User Experience
- Set-Up Complexity, Time & Cost
- Solution Reliability, Vendor Reputation & Support
- Prioritize Requirements: To translate user feedback into an actionable list of requirements, re-organize the categories listed above according to their level of importance for your company. Then, identify the “must-haves” in each category, and voila, you have a prioritized list of requirements.
Checkpoint 3: Outline the selection process
Armed with a clear set of criteria based on an accurate needs assessment, you are now ready to embark on the selection process. To complete this checkpoint, we recommend three steps:
- Set a timeline and divide it up into clear stages for the evaluation process.
- Identify key stakeholders evaluating the solutions.
- Map out who will approve the purchase and the level of information they want.
Outline the selection process and timeline in a document for stakeholders so everyone understands their role and expectations.
Checkpoint 4: Find vendors
Be sure to consider a variety of vendors in your search for video solutions, from established brands, to newer, more innovative players. To compile a list of quality contenders, look to:
- Web Search: Discover companies with quality solutions you may not have heard about.
- Tech & Business News: WIRED, Fast Company, The Verge and TechCrunch offer valuable reports on the state of the market and innovations vendors bring to the table.
- IT Forums & Consumer Reviews: Sites like G2 Crowd and Spiceworks’ community page feature informative accounts of vendor performance.
- Consultants & Analysts: Firms like Wainhouse and Nemertes specialize in analyzing the value of business technology and providing detailed analysis of vendor strengths and weaknesses.
- Conferences & Tradeshows: These expos are great for hands-on demos and comparison shopping.
Checkpoint 5: Justifying the purchase with financial modeling
When it comes to making a business case, no one ever says no to hard numbers. Equip yourself and decision makers with a sense of the costs and benefits of solutions you’re considering, such as:
- Upfront, One-Time Costs: A one-time purchase price should include the cost of all necessary equipment, software (if applicable), and any installation.
- Recurring Costs: Carefully consider these costs to ensure a solution will grow with your company and avoid paying for things you won’t use. Licenses and per user fees add up quickly.
- IT & Support Costs: Traditional executive conference room systems are the most expensive options on the market, and typically involve complex, on-premise equipment and a dedicated IT staff to perform maintenance, updates, troubleshooting and user training.
- Time Savings: Compare the performance data of proposed solutions with the per-minute costs of employee salaries consumed in getting tech up and running; troubleshooting issues; launching and using screen sharing; and requiring IT to fix issues.
- Productivity Gains: To quantify this benefit, consider the per-employee cost of the solution. Will implementing a better, more seamless collaboration solution allow employees to produce at least as much added value as the per-user cost?
- New Capabilities: Factor the potential value of new business initiatives video offers to various departments, i.e. HR can conduct video interviews instead of flying candidates in, etc.
Checkpoint 6: Final considerations and vendor candidate questions
Once you’ve narrowed your list of solutions, and performed a cost-benefit analysis there are a few other things to consider before you buy, including:
Rollout: User adoption strategies can dramatically impact the value you get from video.
Support: Beyond the standard level of support, learn how vendors handle technical issues.
Infrastructure: To ensure your system operates at peak levels with no lag time, check the speed of your network. You need to be running at or above 5 mbps for HD video. A few questions to ask potential vendors are:
- How long does it take to learn to operate your system?
- Does your system require training for employees to use it? If so, how is it deployed?
- How quickly can I set up and deploy your system?
- What guarantees do you offer?
- How do you support your customers?
- How much maintenance am I responsible for with your system?
- Can you give me examples of how your system is better than (insert name of another company you are considering)?
- References are important to me. I’d like to talk to a customer who loves your system, as well as a customer who has had an issue with your system that you resolved.
For your consideration
Highfive delivers a high-quality, all-in-one video conferencing solution that empowers your people to connect face-to-face and collaborate with ease. Featuring HD video and audio, Highfive equips you with everything you and your team need for an immersive video experience anytime, anywhere. And at a fraction of the cost of traditional systems, you can put Highfive in every room. Go ahead, give yourself a Highfive.