Business owners searching for a communications system run into a plethora of industry terms and acronyms. There's a 'cloud' of them; P2P, CTI, PBX, SIPS, IVR and D-I-D (pun completely intended). The terminology and 3-letter words can quickly confuse any entrepreneur. The choice of a communications system is vital to your organization. If you can’t reach your customers and they don’t find you accessible, you can’t grow your business. To shine a light through the cloud of acronyms, here's an easily understood overview of the virtual PBX; listed by as one of the top 4 ways to trim your IT budget.

Tackling the terms one at a time, PBX is the acronym for private branch exchange, a small telephone switch or exchange system owned by and serving a business. These systems allow a company to control their phone system in-house. As access to VoIP technology began increasing, companies wanted to take advantage of the service without tapping internal resources. This need for a PBX system that did not require hiring new staff and installing specialized, expensive equipment began the outgrowth of the second term, 'virtual' or hosted solutions.

A virtual PBX is a hosted PBX system; the telephone exchange is located off-site and managed by an outside company allowing the small business to have a comprehensive system without the costs of comprehensive equipment and staff.

Virtual PBX systems offer a communications system that is:

Since a virtual or hosted PBX system has communication channels without physical connections, hardware purchases and maintenance do not restrict communication choices. Entrepreneurs can make decisions about the types of channels and features they want based on need. Business startups and people that work from home have phone systems indistinguishable from those used by large enterprises. As your business grows and needs change, you simply upgrade. Plans and features are tailor fit for the business, meaning you have a communication system that works in alliance with your image and needs, without paying for what you aren't using.

Virtual PBX providers supply features that are common to telephone systems, such as call forwarding, call waiting and voice messaging. However, virtual PBX hosting additionally combines advanced features that take advantage of the Internet and the integration of the phone and computer. Online reports, virtual fax, message mapping and smart phone integration are just a few of the features available using a virtual PBX.

Scaling features using a traditional land based PBX system would require hardware installations, software adaptations and coding, and an IT staff that specializes in telephony. Virtual PBX systems integrate voice and data features without these additional costs and extensive internal staff training. Tracking call data assists with billing and budgeting and offers a key component of customer relationship management at an affordable rate.

So, what is a Virtual PBX? The virtual PBX option is a low-cost, easy-to-use option that allows the entrepreneur and small business to keep start up costs minimal while maximizing communications capability. A virtual PBX let's you sound like a Fortune 500 company, manage your data and customers like one, even if you're a staff of 3.