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Talking with telecommunications vendors.

At an August ASAE Finance and Administration Section roundtable in Washington, D.C., the talk was of telecommunications features that can help associations provide better service to members. Along with the many options now available for what was once a simple communication device--the telephone--have come many vendors selling telephone systems. With all the choices, soliciting system proposals from vendors can be quite a job.

Mary Hasting Moore, member representative of Telecommunications Cooperative Network, Washington, D.C., offered guidelines for requesting proposals. She suggests sending several potential vendors this list of system requirements:

* number of telephone lines needed;

* number of telephone sets needed;

* types of sets required (for example, speaker phones, single-line or multi-line sets, and display phones);

* number of central answering consoles needed; and

* special features desired (for example, data transmission and automatic call back).

Ask vendors to send the following information about your requirements:

* cost (including purchase price, leasing options, installation costs, maintenance charges, trade-in policies, and payment terms);

* system configuration (including information on expanding the system);

* installation;

* training; and

* maintenance.

In their proposals, vendors should send references (you might even request the name of a customer site you can visit to see their system in operation) and documentation (comprehensive feature descriptions and a sample sales agreement).

In choosing a vendor, Ken Philipp, account executive with Rolm, Vienna, Virginia, suggests you take these steps:

* Do feature-to-feature comparisons of the equipment you're considering.

* Look at the intelligence behind each feature to determine the benefit.

* Ask the vendor to explain how the equipment will enhance your operations.

"Don't go out there just buying technology," Philipp says. "Make sure you buy for a specific reason and that you can see the direct benefit to your association."
COPYRIGHT 1993 American Society of Association Executives
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Title Annotation:News & Know-How; telecommunication services
Publication:Association Management
Date:Oct 1, 1993
Previous Article:Just saying no to surveys.
Next Article:Meetings software that works for you.

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