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Fan of the Month Chat – Muskogee Public Schools

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School is in full swing and we're thrilled to welcome Muskogee Public Schools to the ShoreTel family. Our ShoreTel Fan-of-the-Month for April, 2015 is Eric Wells, Director of Information Services at Muskogee and a ShoreTel enthusiast.

Thanks to our partner, United Systems, Muskogee Public Schools enjoys our ShoreTel VoIP solutions in addition to the Emergency Notification Application which plays a critical role in helping with school safety.

About Muskogee Public Schools

Muskogee Public Schools was founded in 1898 in Muskogee, OK. The district serves 6,300 students and has 700 staff members to supervise 14 sites.

How did you become a ShoreTel customer?

Muskogee Public Schools is a large, progressive district, and we had already invested heavily in a state-of-the-art technology infrastructure. Unfortunately, our Cisco system lacked modern telephony features. It was difficult, or in some cases impossible, to add the capabilities we needed, and due to the system complexity, maintenance was becoming cost-prohibitive. We wanted a solution that offered maximum value and updated security features to improve emergency responsiveness.

Our IT team evaluated Cisco, Avaya, and ShoreTel, and it became clear that ShoreTel was a superior product that was easy to maintain in-house and came with many of the advanced features we were looking to deploy. Also, the ShoreTel IP Phones were far superior in quality to Cisco phones.

How did your users react?

Our users are super-happy. One of their feature favorites is voicemail to email. Now everyone can access their voicemail messages from any phone or receive the messages via .wav files in their email inbox. This gives them the flexibility to receive calls and retrieve messages at any time, from any location. Four-digit dialing and dialing by name have eliminated the need for a paper directory. ShoreTel Communicator is a faculty favorite. It has advanced features that make it easier for people to collaborate and communicate with each otherone another. The application integrates with Microsoft Outlook, and provides visual voicemail, call notes, and routing information, which make it easy for users to handle calls efficiently.

What impressed you most about ShoreTel?

The ShoreTel solution helped us realize a faster return on investment than we imagined. The ROI and TCO projections are significant – we expect full payback within three years. Our IT team is also relieved that the ShoreTel equipment was easy to install, and the system is also easy to administer. We’re doing adds/moves/changes in minutes instead of weeks. And ShoreTel includes so many features in the price that I don’t feel nickel-ed and-dimed like as I have with other systems I’ve inherited in the past.

What application was key to your selection of ShoreTel?

Hands down, the ShoreTel Emergency Notification Application – E911.

The application provides automated alerting and built-in messaging to support campus coordination and our response during emergency situations.

For example, during an emergency, the ShoreTel IP UC system provides calling party information to 911 services, while ShoreTel’sEmergency Notification Application provides internal notification to the school’s police, and designated executive-level staff, that a 911 call has been placed. Alerts include the name, extension number, and exact location of the caller. By receiving simultaneous notification, our district now can immediately create an appropriate and unified response to the emergency. Built-in messaging allows callers to send text messages to one another from their desktops, further improving our ability to coordinate a timely response.

What advice would you give another school district considering ShoreTel?

If another school district IT director called and asked me what system I would recommend, I'd say that we couldn’t be more satisfied with ShoreTel. Overall, ShoreTel offers the best feature set, highest quality, easiest administration at the right price–it just works. For the budget-conscious, it’s more attainable than you might have thought. Ask anyone who has ShoreTel and I think you’ll hear the same

Aside from recommending ShoreTel, what value did your partner, United Systems, add?

We couldn’t have done it without United Systems. United Systems are experts in education deployments and understand the unique requirements of a school district. There’s no question that they go above and beyond. Before designing the system, their team spoke to many of our end users, including receptionists, to find out what features would help them do their jobs better. They were truly concerned with providing the best solution for the district, rather than just selling the most expensive equipment and features. It was the smoothest IT project I’ve been involved with in years.