So I made the mistake yesterday of hitting reply with this answer:
We went out for an RFP for a new phone system in 2015. The major challenge that we faced is that there is a wide variety of options in how phone service can be provided, and we do not have any in-house IT staff. So, we ended-up trying to evaluate service options against one another while also trying to evaluate cost. And there are a ton of phone service companies in Michigan...and they will all submit proposals. Do you want a hard-wired system or a system that is provided over the internet (VOIP)? Do you want to have the controller box in-house or hosted by the service provider? Do you want to own the handsets or rent the handsets? What type of features do you want? How tech-savvy is the staff that will be using the new phones?
If you are not super familiar with phone systems or you do not already have a set system in mind, my recommendation is to figure out the specifics of what you want out of the system before going out to bid. My recommendation is: 1) make a list of the features that you want, 2) meet with an neutral IT professional to review the options that will meet your needs, 3) put out a bid for the specific system type. That way you only have to evaluate the companies based on the usual stuff (cost, references, etc.).
We ended-up going with a hosted VOIP system from Comcast for our office, DPW, and WWTP. Pros: it was the cheapest option on a 3-year time horizon; fewer wires; it has a lot of nice features (four digit extensions, transferring, online management tool). Cons: it is hosted over our internet, which can slow down our internet; if the power/internet go out, our phones go out; not all of the staff is tech-savvy, so they have a hard time using all of the nice features.
If you would like a copy of the City of Dexter's RFP, please send me an e-mail directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please let me know if you have any questions.
Assistant to the City Manager / City Clerk
City of Dexter
8140 Main St.
Dexter, MI 48130
Direct: (734) 580-2234