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Advanced Resource Technologies Case Study

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Case Studies

Leading government consulting and services firm improves bottom line with ShoreTel VoIP system

Advanced Resource Technology Inc.

Trade up to modern telephony

The 10-year-old legacy system was hampering productivity for ARTI’s 40 internal users in its Alexandria, Virginia facility and 250 employees contracted out to government sites and staffing call centers, which provide administrative support.

Looking to consolidate voice and data networks

ARTI was planning to move its headquarters from one side of Alexandria to the other. With a decade old legacy Panasonic PBX system, Matt Brady, the company’s network engineer, recognized the need to move to a new technology and consolidate ARTI’s voice and data networks.

“The Panasonic phone system was over 10 years old, and it was getting difficult and costly to obtain parts for the circuit-board based PBX,” says Brady. “The system was also becoming unreliable, which is not an option for us.”

After considering analog solutions from Avaya and Nortel, and researching every opportunity, ARTI decided to implement Voice over IP (VoIP) instead of another analog system. Brady had limited VoIP experience, so he turned to ARTI’s systems integrator for insight, which immediately directed Brady to look at solutions from ShoreTel. Brady closely scrutinized ShoreTel solutions, along with Cisco VoIP products.

“I spoke with other administrators who deal with the same cost and scale challenges that we face here at ARTI, and they all raved about ShoreTel’s ease of use, ease of administration, and cost-effectiveness,” explains Brady.

Ease of use accelerates ShoreTel ROI

The ShoreTel VoIP phone system cost ARTI about $55,000, but the savings are dramatic, according to Brady. “The new ShoreTel system quickly paid for itself because I can manage it all myself—data and voice—instead of calling someone in for voice support, which is costly,” says Brady. “I haven’t calculated it exactly, but the return on investment (ROI) is no more than one or two years in management savings alone.”

ARTI uses ShoreTel’s ShoreWare Director, a browser-based management interface, and can manage the system from anywhere on the network, including performing functions such as controlling or changing the configuration of switches, managing the voicemail, automated attendant and desktop applications. The processes are much simpler than competitive solutions.

“Cisco is cumbersome to work with,” says Brady. “Just adding a mailbox entails a long string of command lines. The ShoreTel system is menu-driven and browser-based, so I can manage the system easily from any Web browser—even over a VPN from home. And moving an extension is just as simple and takes a minute or two—it’s as easy as making a user account change in Windows. You simply log into their account, open up the properties page and make changes. It’s very intuitive.”

System updates are also quick and easy, taking an hour or two at the most. Once the server is updated and re-booted, the new code is pushed to the switches automatically and then to all of the phones.

Vendor neutrality was important to ARTI, since its infrastructure includes a mix of equipment. ShoreTel systems integrate with switches and routers from all the leading data vendors. “If we’d gone with Cisco, everything would have had to be Cisco—there is no vendor-neutrality with them,” states Brady. “With ShoreTel, it doesn’t matter what’s on your network—ours is half Cisco and half HP, but that doesn’t matter because ShoreTel is vendor-agnostic.”

“WITH SHORETEL, IT DOESN’T MATTER WHAT’S ON YOUR NETWORK—OURS IS HALF CISCO AND HALF HP, BUT THAT DOESN’T MATTER BECAUSE SHORETEL IS VENDORAGNOSTIC.”

Matt Brady, Network Engineer
Advanced Resource Technologies, Inc. (ARTI)

Brady is relieved that the outdated, unreliable system has been replaced. ShoreGear voice switches are embedded devices with a real-time operating system, delivering 99.999% reliability. They employ a unique call control architecture in which switches communicate with one another as peers and distribute call processing on the network. If a switch goes offline, another automatically picks up the slack, which eliminates single-point failures – providing a level of reliability exceeding even traditional voice systems.

ShoreTel’s robust feature set enhances ARTI’s reputation

ShoreTel desktop productivity software transforms Microsoft Outlook into a multimedia communications center – giving ARTI employees control over both voicemail and email messages. With ShoreTel desktop applications, ARTI employees spend less time navigating complex telephone systems and more time performing critical, revenue-producing tasks. The friendly, graphical interface provides easy access to sophisticated features, including on-the-fly conferencing and document sharing.

ShoreTel Communicator also includes SoftPhone, a utility that delivers telephony capabilities to any PC. With calls directed to a laptop and a headset plugged into the USB port, employees can work from anywhere. ARTI employees who travel appreciate the power and simplicity of SoftPhone, as does Brady who often dials in from home using the feature.

Receptionists also enjoy an even higher level of functionality. ShoreWare Operator software provides ARTI receptionists with critical information necessary for exceptional customer service. For example, when the phone rings, a call-routing log displays the caller’s experience within the system to the ARTI receptionist. Before transferring callers, the call-transfer screen displays information about who is available and who is already on the phone.

With this unprecedented level of information, operators can connect callers faster than ever and give them the highest level of professional service. With the complete company at their fingertips, along with knowledge about who is available and where a caller has already been sent, the receptionist can transfer using a simple drag-and-drop tool, to the most appropriate person—to their extension, cell phone, or even their home phone.

“Gone are the days of those large banks of buttons with scribble marks erased time and time again to reassign extensions,” says Brady. “With ShoreTel, it’s all GUI-based, easy to use, and a powerful customer service tool.”

“SHORETEL HAS WON US OVER AND WE PLAN ON CAPITALIZING ON EVERY UPCOMING FEATURE THEY HAVE SCHEDULED. THE SYSTEM’S INCREDIBLE FEATURES, ALONG WITH THE EXPERTISE I GET FROM SHORETEL, HAVE CONVINCED US THAT WE ABSOLUTELY MADE THE RIGHT CHOICE. WE LOOK FORWARD TO WORKING AND GROWING TOGETHER FOR A VERY LONG TIME.”

Focused on the future

ShoreTel keeps ARTI well informed of future features, and Brady is especially looking forward to some of the mobility, WiFi, and integrated management updates planned. “ShoreTel has won us over and we plan on capitalizing on every upcoming feature they have scheduled,” concludes Brady. “The system’s incredible features, along with the expertise I get from ShoreTel, have convinced us that we absolutely made the right choice. We look forward to working and growing together for a very long time.”

CHALLENGE:

  • Advanced Resource Technologies, Inc. (ARTI), faced with a dated analog phone system, needed a solution that would help merge the company’s voice and data networks, simplify management, and lower total cost of network ownership (TCO).

SOLUTION:

  • After evaluating Avaya, Cisco, Nortel, and ShoreTel, ARTI deployed a ShoreTel telephone system, including IP phones, voice switches, and software, at the company’s Alexandria, Virginia headquarters.

BENEFITS:

  • Ease of use
  • Rapid ROI and lower TCO
  • Enhanced productivity
  • Improved customer service