What is a business phone system?

Business telephone systems can be referred to under many names – perhaps you are familiar with terms such as:

  • PABX or PBX System
  • Commander or Key System
  • VoIP or Converged System

Whilst there are a number of different types of business phone systems, each with different features, options and technologies (these differences can be significant or very slight), they are all designed to offer your business the necessary infrastructure to provide 3 basic services:

  • Make calls to customers through the networks of carriers (such as Telstra and Optus)
  • Direct and manage calls into and within your organisation as efficiently as possible
  • Optimise internal communication

What are the basic features of a Business Phone System?

An understanding of the basic features of a business phone system, as well as what exactly your business needs, will arm you from potentially spending your money on features and options that you don’t need.

Whilst business telephone systems can be equipped with literally hundreds of features for purposes such as switching and redirecting calls and traffic, market and dealer research indicates that most companies will actually only use 5 to 10% of their telephone features. It’s a good idea to focus on features that will actually improve your business, communication and efficiency. Instead of comparing the various system features on a one-to-one basis, you should examine how your phone system will actually be used in your organisation and make decisions based on this.

All systems have the absolute core features of call hold, transfer, pickup and paging through the phone or external speakers. However, the user boundaries for these features do vary from system to system so when you have narrowed your selection to two or three vendors, make sure you have a live demonstration of the operation of these.

Advanced Phone System Features

For organisations whose nature of business require more extensive or sophisticated use of telecommunications, modern corporate phone systems offer some more advanced options with significant benefits that can really lift your business efficiency in ways you may not have.

Automatic Call Forwarding

Automatic call forwarding is a feature that can greatly assist both employees and callers. By automatically routing incoming calls to wherever your employees are, whether on the road, working at home, or even at a remote location, automatic forwarding increases the likelihood that callers are able to reach the person they need with minimal effort and without having to make a second or third call. In addition, your employees avoid having to return to an overflowing voicemail box and waiting or unhappy customers.

Automatic Call Distribution (ACD)

Automatic Call Distribution offers any working environment the capability to both optimise their service for incoming callers as well as adjacently maximise staff productivity. ACD distributes calls within a group so that the first available agent takes the call. Additionally, if no agents are available the call can be held in a queue with a comforting message that their call will be attended to shortly. A group supervisor can also access real-time information on how the group is operating including the number of calls in queue, average queuing time and total incoming calls received.

ACD functionality is ideal for business departments that operate as an incoming call centre such as accounts, telephone sales or a technical help desk. Many telephone systems provide this functionality as standard. There are also more sophisticated call centre applications that integrate with the telephone system and are designed for specific needs of larger call centres. These applications include functionality like more sophisticated reporting, remote agent working and call routing to agents based on their skill levels.

What is a PABX (or PBX) system?

Generally, PABX (or PBX) systems tend to cater for companies with a larger number of employees (40+), with the ability to provide some of the more advanced functionality and features than for example Commander or Key Systems (which will be discussed next). PABX stands for Private Automated Branch Exchange, and are differentiated from Commander or Key systems in that users of key systems manually select their own outgoing lines, whilst PBXs systems select the outgoing line automatically. PABX (or PBX) systems evolved from the telephone exchanges used by the telephone carriers such as Telstra and Optus, and initially required entire rooms dedicated to housing necessary central switching equipment. As with most areas of technology, the functionality of PABX systems has increased dramatically over time whilst the size of its main equipment has gradually decreased. It can now be rack or wall-mounted and stored alongside a company’s IT servers and associated equipment.

In relation to functionality, PABX systems are designed to perform 4 main call processing tasks:

· Establishing connections between two telephones (for example making sure that one of the phones isn’t already busy)

· Maintaining the above connections for as long as the users require them (basically channeling voice signals for the duration of a call)

· Disconnecting the above connections as per the user’s requirement (ie. when one user hangs up)

Providing the required call information for accounting purposes (metering the costs of calls)

It is also important to know that PBX systems are completely programmable and therefore can support even the most complex implementations.

To discuss how a PABX system can suit your business, call us now on 1300 302 276.

What is a VoIP System?

In relatively recent times, a new technology known as Voice over IP (VoIP) has been introduced and is progressively becoming an important part of telecommunications. Using this new technology, regular voice calls are sent over a computer network as opposed to the previous use of traditional phone lines.

In its simplest form, VoIP requires a regular phone, an adapter, broadband Internet service, and a subscription to a VoIP service. When you place a call, it is sent over the Internet as data until it nears the recipient’s destination. Then the call is translated back into a more traditional format and completes the trip over standard phone lines. Also known as Internet telephony, this allows for extremely cheap long-distance and international calls. For some businesses, VoIP systems have the capabilities to provide significant cost savings and other benefits.

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How do I select the right system for my business?

At the simplest level, Business Phone Systems are generally divided into 4 categories in relation to size and the number of employees that will be users of the Phone System.

  • Small: 1-8 Employees
  • Medium: 8-16 Employees
  • Large: 16-32 Employees
  • Corporate: More than 32 Employees

Establishing how many lines and extensions you need (and what exactly this all means!) as well as ensuring enough room for positive and negative growth is absolutely essential in ascertaining exactly what you require from your system before purchasing, which when done properly can save you thousands of dollars in installation fees as well as services in the future.

There are two main factors that will determine the size of the office phone system you need:

Lines (or Trunks)

  • The number of ‘lines’ or ‘trunks’ your business requires refers the total number of external phone lines, or ones that move outside the office, that are used by the company. Varying systems and other equipment are dependent on and can be adjusted to support the required number of external phone lines.
  • Whilst a small business may only utilise 2, 3 or even 1 phone line, larger workplaces will obviously utilise more and this is an important factor in selecting the best phone system.


  • The number of ‘extensions’ refers to the total number of devices within the company that will require connection to the phone system.
  • While most of these ‘extensions’ will refer to telephone handsets, it also includes other equipment such as fax machines, credit card terminal, door phones and modems. Basically, any equipment that requires a phone connection must also be connected through the phone system and is therefore considered an ‘extension’.
Call us now on 1300 302 276 for our expert advice on the right phone system for your business needs.

How do I allow for future business growth?

As well as recognising that a telephone system can handle your current business internal and external phone traffic, it’s crucial to be sure that it can also handle your future needs to ensure longevity and save you money. An ideal system should be able to handle expansion in the most cost-effective manner possible. Most systems will allow you to increase capacity by adding new cards that increase the total number of ports available, while some smaller systems are expandable by simply adding another cabinet identical to the first one installed.

For planning purposes, you should allow 5-10% for organic growth, so when purchasing a system, inquire about how much it will cost to add at least 10% more capacity. You can and should also look at capacity increases of 20% and 30% to get an indication of the incremental costs involved, as they will vary with different systems.

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Call us now on 1300 302 276 to discuss your current and future telecommunication requirements.

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    • Avatar Michael Stillman ★★★★★ 9 months ago
      I have dealt with Plexus for over 15 years & have found them extremely professional & have always delivered on time, & we have their VOIP phones in our office which are … More fantastic.
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      Great service and highly recommended. Very professional and excellent communication throughout the whole process. The team has been very helpful and always available to assist us.
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      I would highly recommend anyone reaching out to the team at Plexus for any business communication issues. The team are professional with super prompt reply and technicians. Big shout … More out to Faye for all her exceptional communication and Jack the technician. So incredibly happy to be assisted so promptly and have the issue resolved. Great work Plexus
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