Best mobile phones for business

How to Choose a Cell Phone Plan for Your Business

Everyone may not agree on if the best cell phone is a BlackBerry, iPhone, or Android. But they will agree that a cell phone is crucial to business. 'I'd say a cell phone is one of the top five tools of a business, ' says Vernard Martin, senior systems administrator for the Center for Comprehensive Informatics at Emory University in Atlanta. 'They play a critical role in the communications infrastructure of any business, from a mom-and-pop shop to a mega-corporation.'

A missed text, a dropped call, or the inability to access a website can potentially cost a company millions. Cellular service providers will try to reel you in with funny, eye-catching commercials and a seemingly endless parade of new handsets sporting new features they just can't live without. Your decision of how to equip your workforce and which of the countless providers to partner with can make a big difference to your bottom line in a number of ways, but with a little research, the choice can be much easier than you anticipate.

How to Choose a Cell Phone Plan for Your Business: Is Your Business Right to Go Mobile?

Always look at your business and determine how cell phones are going to be used to address your company's communications needs. 'For every business, you have to look very carefully at the business drivers behind the communication, ' says Heinan Landa, CEO of Optimal Networks, a Maryland IT management company.

Cell phones are useful when mobility is a major concern, but there are some trade-offs. 'We have some clients who are law firms, and their people spend an inordinate amount of time in the office on the phone with clients, ' says Landa. 'So for them a cell phone would not be as useful. There might be issues with call quality; they'd lose some nuances of speech and interaction. You want to approach that decision carefully. But on the other hand, if I am starting up a buying business where I am going to be out of the office most of time, it's more important that I am reachable and know where I am going than having extended conversations.'

Dig Deeper: Cutting the Cord

How to Choose a Cell Phone Plan for Your Business: Research Your Company Calling Habits

Pull some copies of past phone bills to get an accurate read on your company's calling patterns. Are your business calls mostly local, or does a fair amount activity take place across the country? Would you need to have free or low-cost international calls added to your plan? Would data and texting be useful to your organization? Once you have these questions answered, you can start to see what kind of cell phone plan will suit the companies needs best.

Dig Deeper: Cost Cutting - The Money Pit

How to Choose a Cell Phone Plan for Your Business: Outfit Your Key People

It is unlikely that members of your organization are going to need a cell phone for their day-to-day work. Depending on the size of your business, limiting the number of phones you assign can save money on the plan you eventually select. 'If you've mapped out your group's communication needs, that should direct who is going to be issued a phone, says Martin. 'Normally, senior management is going to have them so they can reach each other in emergencies or crisis management situations. And if you have any sales force that has to be mobile, having to monitor both a desktop phone and a mobile phone is not worth the hassle, ' says Martin.

Assess the mobility needs of each member of your team. Are they client-facing? How much time do they spend away from the office? Do their responsibilities end at 5pm, or are they always somewhat on the clock? Will the phone be used primarily for calls, or will they be heavy data users as they check email and access files on the fly? If there's a crisis in the organization, who will need to be immediately reachable?

Once you know how many employees and members of management you will have to equip and how they will be likely to use the cell phone, you'll be able to drill down on a plan that can not only provide you with a package of talk time and data services that will accommodate everyone, but you may also be able to get a discount on the phones themselves.

Dig Deeper: 8 Steps to Help You Develop a Disaster Plan

How to Choose a Cell Phone Plan for Your Business: Finding a Service Provider

The best way to select a cell phone carrier is by comparing cell phone carriers in your area. Select at least three cell phone carriers and compare their plans, network coverage, range of services, whether they provide monthly plans, prepaid plans, contract plans, whether they have unlimited plans or a 3G network. Here are a few things to consider and compare when selecting a cell phone carrier.

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