Along the lines of rethinking our current practices I would like to share an idea for convenience, efficiency, and cost cutting.
I recently accepted an invitation to use Google Voice. I was excited because it was going to be a way that I could reliably call into meetings for work. I was wrong about what Google Voice was all about. I thought it was going to be a VOIP system that would allow me to make calls from my computer so that I don't need to be hanging on the phone so much when in a meeting at home.
I continued to play around with Google Voice. I made myself a phone number and added my cell phone number under that Google phone number (still not knowing what Google Voice was for). I click the call button to call my wife. Google calls my phone, I pick up, it then rings my wife's phone and I can talk to her on my phone. At this point I am thinking, "Well, this is stupid!" I have now created a middleman for my phone that still requires me to be atmy phone. How silly.
I also found that since Google has given me real phone number, I can call that number. What does it do? It forwards the call to all of my phones I have configured. Whoa, that's cool, but I already have that through Vonage. Someone calls my home phone and it gets forwarded to my cell phone after a few rings. This Google Voice is just not working for me. I'm not a fan.
This week I have the programmer on-call phone. I hate that thing. While I was holding the on-call phone I was talking to a co-worker about Google Voice...
Then, boom, It hit me! Google Voice eliminates the need for a programmer on-call phone rotation. Why stop there, Google Voice eliminates the programmer on-call phone completely. Create a Google phone number and give that phone number to Customer Support. Now from your Google Voice account you can add phone numbers that you would like to forward the phone call to. Here is where an engineer can specifiy the number they would like to be reached at for the on call phone. For me, I would use my mobile number most of the time. If I have the on-call phone over a holiday, I do not get service on my mobile number or the on-call phone when visiting family in western PA. Instead of just chancing it, I could supply a number that I can be reached at, like my parent's phone number, or an alternate cell number, or even another Google Voice number that rings all my numbers!
When the on-call rotation changes, we just change the number that the Google Voice number forwards to and we are done. Personally, I hate having to carry around the phone and making sure it is charged when I already do that with my personal cell phone. Plus, we get the added bonus that the company has absolutely no reason to keep the on-call phone or the phone plan which cuts costs. It cuts costs because Google Voice is free to the US and Canada.
Google Voice can also manage your voicemails if you want it to; it can get transcripts of the call; do conference calls; there is just so much you can do! I think this is a great opportunity for the company and I wanted to share it with everyone, so let me know what you think.