Amarillo Independent School District Case Study
Amarillo Independent School District gets and education in digital communications and saves $20,000 per year with ShoreTel
Legacy system too expensive and inflexible
AISD’s existing, outdated key phone system led to staff and cost inefficiencies. IT staff had to physically make moves, adds, and changes, and providing enough copper wiring to expand the existing system made phone or voicemail for every teacher prohibitively expensive.
The need for expanded features and easier management
After evaluating several different providers, it became clear that some providers would demand significant staff resources. In contrast, the ShoreTel system seemed exceptionally simple to manage.
“As a school district, we don’t have a dedicated phone staff,” explains Jeff Roller, Internet systems analyst for AISD. “The ShoreTel system was very intuitive, easy to set up, and easy to manage. A person can use the Web interface to make moves, adds, and changes right from their desk. It’s amazing how easy it is compared to other systems.”
With the ShoreTel system, the district could keep costs down by using its existing analog phones. Plus, it could purchase services on a per-line basis, as needed, rather than as a large capital acquisition. The digital voice communication system is a vendor-provided, managed system, making it eligible for federal e-rate funding. As a result, e-rate funds covered three-fourths of the cost of the solution.
Austin-based Trillion, a ShoreTel channel partner, worked with AISD to roll out the system across the district. Trillion configured unique call flow routing using ShoreTel workgroup features to route calls in various departments. Additionally, the partner acquired a common phone prefix for all district numbers to simplify dialing for staff and outside callers.
Currently, 532 staff members use the ShoreTel system, including all administrative personnel and teachers at the four high schools. All users now benefit from voicemail and a number of ShoreTel advanced features.
ShoreTel voicemail and quick call routing relieve the office staff from manual tasks
With unified messaging, staff and teachers can access their voicemail messages from any phone or receive the messages in their email inboxes. Or staff can tap into the Find Me feature to roll their calls over to a cell phone, if desired. This gives them the flexibility to receive calls and retrieve messages at any time, from any location, and frees office staff from handwriting messages.
Outside callers can locate staff through the built-in directory, which routes the call and gives the caller the direct number for future reference. That same directory feature streamlines call transferring for staff, who in seconds type in a few characters to find the right extension and route the call. With more than 500 users making numerous calls every day, that feature allows staff to be more productive.
Workgroups enable customized call management
ShoreTel workgroups allow each department to designate their own call flows. For example, if they want a live person to answer calls, they can choose to route calls sequentially from one person to another until the call is answered, or have the calls go to one extension. For busy times or off-hours, they can turn on auto-attendants to answer and direct callers to the appropriate extension. Staff easily program in holidays and hours to activate auto-attendants automatically at specific times, relieving departmental staff from having to turn on the auto-attendant when they leave.
“FEDERAL STANDARDS REQUIRE THAT WE IMPROVE COMMUNICATION WITH PARENTS ABOUT THEIR STUDENTS’ PERFORMANCE. WE VIEW THE SHORETEL SYSTEM AS ONE LEG OF THAT STOOL, GIVING US A WAY TO BE MORE EFFECTIVE IN ALLOWING TEACHERS AND PARENTS TO COMMUNICATE AND IMPROVE STUDENT PERFORMANCE.”
Gary Allen, Executive Director of Technology
Amarillo Independent School District
In departments like Human Resources and Food Services, workgroup management has transformed communications. In HR, an auto-attendant directs calls to the right individual based on the need, whether it’s related to contracts, employment, benefits, or substitute teachers – relieving the person who previously answered every incoming call. Food Services can now effectively manage daily calls from cafeteria managers at more than 50 school cafeterias.
“The enhanced features add to productivity and allow more time on task,” says Roller. “People are dedicated to their own work instead of just answering the phone.”
Beyond that, the district also takes advantage of ShoreTel converged conferencing to connect various district administrators and staff. They can join teleconferences, without having to take extra time out of their days to drive across the city.
The district will gradually expand the system to all campuses and roll out voicemail and phones to all teachers. AISD remains confident that ShoreTel’s flexibility will accommodate its growing needs.
“As dynamic and flexible as the system is, we can customize it for each individual situation,” states Roller. “That’s the beauty of it. It’s been able to meet every situation we’ve experienced.”
ShoreTel enables better communication and saves $20,000 per year
AISD upgraded its phone system to a feature-rich digital communications system that allows office staff to focus more on their jobs, rather than on answering the phone. Workgroups empower them to manage their changing call flow needs, while auto-attendant directs callers to the right person. The IT staff easily manages the system, saving countless hours of driving to schools to make moves, adds, and changes.
The district saves more than $20,000 a year over its old system, and has a flexible, scalable platform for cost-effective expansion as it grows. Most important, features like voicemail and unified messaging allow teachers and parents to communicate more easily.
“AS DYNAMIC AND FLEXIBLE AS THE SYSTEM IS, WE CAN CUSTOMIZE IT FOR EACH INDIVIDUAL SITUATION. THAT’S THE BEAUTY OF IT. IT’S BEEN ABLE TO MEET EVERY SITUATION WE’VE EXPERIENCED.”
“Federal standards require that we improve communication with parents about their students’ performance,” concludes Gary Allen, executive director of technology. “We view the ShoreTel system as one leg of that stool, giving us a way to be more effective in allowing teachers and parents to communicate and improve student performance.”
- Amarillo Independent School District (AISD) began exploring options for upgrading its phone solution. The district looked to digital voice communications to free it from its inflexible copper-wired system and expand functionality.
- After evaluating 3Com, Avaya, Cisco, and Nortel, AISD selected the ShoreTel digital voice communications system. The ShoreTel system offered a number of valuable features to drive better communication and staff efficiency – for less than the cost of the old, limited system.
- Increased efficiencies
- Rich feature set
- $20,000 cost savings annually
- Ease of maintenance