AlphaStaff Case Study
ShoreTel saves AlphaStaff thousands of dollars and provides disaster recovery to ensure business continuity
Help wanted at human resources firm
With 33% growth in four years, AlphaStaff outgrew its office in Boca Raton, Florida. With an outdated Panasonic PBX-based system, the company lacked disaster recovery and remote capabilities.
Integration of remote workers
The need for a larger office prompted AlphaStaff to reevaluate its business processes. “When in the market for a new location, we looked how we did business,” says Jack Rahner, director of IT operations for AlphaStaff. “We determined that a large percentage of our workers worked remotely or from home, and we had to upgrade a new phone system that would integrate those workers into our telephone system and support a new and quickly growing call center.”
AlphaStaff’s top priority was to gain a disaster recovery plan to ensure business continuity in case of events such as hurricanes. Since AlphaStaff provides payroll services for more than 38,000 customers, it could not afford to have a system down when people are waiting for paychecks, which is what would happen with the old system.
AlphaStaff interviews the best in the business
Rahner knew what a Voice over IP (VoIP) system could do for AlphaStaff. He began looking closely at market leaders Avaya, Cisco, Nortel, and ShoreTel. After a side-by-side comparison, ShoreTel was of interest because of the distributed nature of the system, which perfectly fit his disaster recovery plans. After five months using both Cisco and ShoreTel in lab test environments in multiple cities, AlphaStaff chose ShoreTel.
“We did major architectural design evaluations of both Cisco and ShoreTel, and we were very impressed with the distributed architecture of ShoreTel, which is something Cisco did not offer,” explains Rahner. “ShoreTel has truly taken a revolutionary approach to designing a phone system, and provides us with disaster recovery capabilities, which was a key requirement.”
ShoreTel’s distributed architecture provides much-needed disaster recovery
ShoreTel provided AlphaStaff with two of its ShoreGear® 120/24 voice switches, and two ShoreGear 60/12 voice switches, as well as more than 150 ShorePhone™ IP telephones. Rahner notes that the disaster recovery features in the ShoreTel system allows the company to run its Fort Lauderdale-based business and continue to service 38,000 people without losing a step during a disaster, such as Hurricane Wilma.
“The disaster recovery capabilities are great, and actually we use them routinely,” says Rahner. “For instance, we brought down our Atlanta facility for some maintenance purposes and were able to reroute all of those calls–it was completely transparent to customers calling in.”
The ShoreTel implementation was simple, and Rahner notes that it is very easy to maintain the system, even remotely. ShoreWare® Director, ShoreTel’s browser-based management interface, allows AlphaStaff’s IT personnel to access the system from anywhere on the network. Through this browser, every site and feature can be managed, including voicemail, automated attendant, and desktop applications.
“Moves, adds, and changes are much easier with ShoreTel–it’s like night and day compared to the old system,” claims Rahner. “We’re able to manage the entire system in-house with two entry-level technicians on board. ShoreTel has a very intuitive interface, and managing the entire system is fast and easy.”
“WE DID MAJOR ARCHITECTURAL DESIGN EVALUATIONS OF BOTH CISCO AND SHORETEL AND WE WERE VERY IMPRESSED WITH THE DISTRIBUTED ARCHITECTURE OF SHORETEL, WHICH IS SOMETHING CISCO DID NOT OFFER. SHORETEL HAS TRULY TAKEN A REVOLUTIONARY APPROACH TO DESIGNING A PHONE SYSTEM, AND PROVIDES US WITH DISASTER RECOVERY CAPABILITIES, WHICH WAS A KEY REQUIREMENT.”
Jack Rahner, Director of IT Operations
With the ShoreTel system in place, all AlphaStaff employees are on a centralized email, phone, and voicemail system, using four-digit dialing to reach employees at either location, even when they’re working from home. ShoreWare Personal Call Manager gives users the equivalent of a desktop PBX—a powerful, all-purpose tool for managing voice communications.
“Before ShoreTel, employees handed out business cards with two or three telephone numbers on them,” states Rahner. “Now, with ShoreTel, they only have to give people one number, which either reaches them wherever they are or sends the caller into voicemail, which automatically triggers an email to the intended person. Nobody misses a call and everything is centralized. We’ve improved productivity and time efficiency, as well as customer service.”
AlphaStaff is also using ShoreTel’s Converged Conferencing Solution, a 48-port conference bridge, which allows employees to quickly and easily set up conference calls on the fly, minimizing the time it takes to address customer or office related issues. “I expect the return on investment for the conference bridge will be about six months, based on what we’ll save not using an outside service provider,” says Rahner.
Office Anywhere enables employees to work anywhere
ShoreTel’s Office Anywhere™ allows AlphaStaff employees to choose the device they work from such as a cell phone or home phone–and that device assumes the identity and capabilities of the employee’s regular office extension.
“Office Anywhere helps us solidify our brand by allowing caller ID to indicate AlphaStaff is calling, even if the call is being placed from a worker’s home office,” explains Rahner. “This has improved customer satisfaction considerably since callers just automatically reach the right person at one number, regardless of where that person is working for the day.”
ShoreTel saves AlphaStaff thousands of dollars a month
“With ShoreTel, remote workers still utilize the PSTN network, but their calls are routed through our main office lines. Since we get much better long-distance rates than those workers do at home, we’re saving literally thousands every month,” says Rahner.
“MOVES, ADDS, AND CHANGES ARE MUCH EASIER WITH SHORETEL–IT’S LIKE NIGHT AND DAY COMPARED TO THE OLD SYSTEM.”
AlphaStaff anticipates future growth, which the ShoreTel system can easily accommodate. The organization also plans to integrate ShoreTel into its CRM solution, which will give call center employees even more robust information on callers before picking up the phone. CRM integration will provide screen pop-ups with detailed customer information, which will maximize sales and enhance the customer’s experience.
“Changing phone systems from standard to VoIP is a cultural change, but with ShoreTel it was an easy adjustment,” concludes Rahner. “”Everybody loves the ShoreTel system. The fact that we’re saving so much money, and I’m assured of disaster recovery, also helps me sleep much better at night. I look forward to developing a new call center in Atlanta, now that we have ShoreTel as our IP telephony partner.”
- When AlphaStaff was faced with significant growth, the organization decided it was time to look into VoIP solutions with disaster recovery capabilities and the capacity to integrate home and remote offices into a centralized system.
- ShoreTel provided the staffing firm with a comprehensive VoIP solution, including ShoreTel Voice Switches, ShorePhone IP telephones, and ShoreWare Director for end-to-end management.
- Significant cost savings on toll calls
- Disaster recovery capabilities
- Ability for employees to work anywhere
- Ease of use and flexibility