Transitioning to a PBX from a key-line phone system

Transitioning to a PBX from a key-line phone system

Today I would like to talk about how to transition from older key systems to a full featured private branch exchange (PBX) phone system.

A key system was originally distinguished from a private branch exchange (PBX) in that it allowed the station user to see and control the calls directly, manually, using lighted line buttons, while a private branch exchange operated in a manner similar to the public telephone system, in that the calls were routed to the correct destination by being dialed directly.

Visit the History of VoIP for more information on how this evolved.

The private branch exchange (PBX) technology offers huge advantages in terms of call handling for a company. However, it sometimes requires companies to adopt new features and methods of transferring calls. While the call parking feature is similar to a key-line mechanism, we strongly recommend that you don't use it as a primary means of transferring calls. For one thing, most of the new phones don't have enough programmable buttons to make call parking work like a key-line system.

Here are a few features that can be combined for better call handling:

HOLD - users can put callers on hold, use intercom features and/or busy light to check for user availability while a call is on hold. Hold is private to a specific phone (can not be seen network wide). The user can then take the call off hold and transfer it to a user or group of users.

CALL PARKING - parking a call is like a global hold where anyone in the company can pick it up. This should not be over-used since most phones do not have many pickup lines (it isn't a key-line system). Only park calls where you might need to page someone to come to the phone. Also assess whether it makes sense to page someone for the call. If it isn't an emergency, perhaps it is better to send the caller to voicemail.

DND - when users are at their desk but not available, use Do Not Disturb to make the calls go to directly to voicemail.

TRANSFER - when you know where the call is going, just transfer it. Either the call will make it to the user or it will go to voicemail.

CALL QUEUES - this feature can be used to direct a caller to a group of people while they listen to music on hold. This is a better method of transferring to a group than using call parking because you don't need to tell anyone about the call.

If you need to make webFones work like a key-line system, then the best thing to do is get Polycom 650 or 550 phones and make sure you define enough park but buttons to support the maximum calls you may have parked at once.

See also: key-line systems vs. private branch exchange