Corporate Voicemail on the Cheap.
July 31, 2007 10:34 AM   Subscribe

What's the cheapest/easiest/best way to implement a corporate voicemail system for a small organization?

I'm part of a college student-run philanthropy, and currently, our office phone line has a regular password-protected voicemail system connected to it. This proves insufficient, because there are more then 20 people who receive voice messages on that line.

What's the best, low-cost way to implement a voicemail system where each person has their own mailbox (i.e., someone calls, can "press 1 for marketing, press 2 for press" or can simply just enter an extension to be directly connected to someone's voicemail-box).

I'd prefer a hardware solution, rather than a software package or online service —but I'll consider all options. Cost is sort of an issue, being as we are a nonprofit, but used E-bay equipment may be a solution.

posted by mikespez to Technology (6 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
posted by SirStan at 10:44 AM on July 31, 2007

seconding an asterisk based solution, its easy to configure and very flexible. commercial voicemail hardware systems get expensive quickly.
posted by dnc at 10:59 AM on July 31, 2007

I think you should talk to a rep at the vm places. our office has a system by a company called avaya that automatically makes mp3s out of the voicemails and emails them to the party in question. I can't tell you how handy that is (it also tries to read emails to you when you call it, which is total ass).

my point here being that at worst you're going to get a "no" when you ask for discounts, refurbished or returned products. and who knows how much a small system would cost anyway.
posted by krautland at 10:59 AM on July 31, 2007

thirding asterisk or trixbox. I use it at home. we use it at work (~100 ppl). you need a pc for a server (p3/512mb or better, is sufficient) and you will need some hardware (either IP phones, or ATAs.) but there is a ton of free client software you could try first on computer desktops (speakers and microphone needed, of course)

it's free. it emails you voicemails. it's unbelievably flexible. there are a ton of providers out there offering DIDs (i.e. regular phone numbers) and minutes at very cheap rates.

my home phone number is an 800 number. it costs me 50c/month + 1.39c/minute. that's it, no taxes no fees. I can call my home number from anywhere, enter a secret code and get a dialtone that lets me call out to any number I want, long distance or international.
posted by dorian at 11:25 AM on July 31, 2007

also: asteriskNOW -- easier than regular asterisk for non-unix-heads; simpler than trixbox but still full-featured enough for most small businesses.
posted by dorian at 11:29 AM on July 31, 2007

I work in this business and have done so for more than a dozen years. Presently I function as a consultant working with people who have problems just like yours.

Asterisk MAY be a good solution for you if you are willing to do the following:

-Replace your existing phone system


-Equip your existing phone system (assuming it's capable) via tie lines to an Asterisk box. Even then, you may not be able to drive message-waiting notifications the way you want.

You didn't mention what kind of phone system you have right now. If it's a Nortel, Avaya, Toshiba, NEC, Panasonic or any of a slew of other brands, there are usually voicemail "blades" which can slot into the system architecture and do what you want. These solutions can often be had via ebay and the gray market.

We can get into more detail in this forum if you like, otherwise, email me and I can help you further.

No, I am not a sales rep. :)
posted by TeamBilly at 2:20 PM on August 4, 2007

« Older making a cartoon graph   |   Help me eat at Hell's Kitchen...please! Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.