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City of San Luis Obispo Case Study

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Case Studies

San Luis Obispo accomplishes its mission with ShoreTel’s rapid ROI

Aging phone system causes discontent

City management was becoming increasingly frustrated with its 10-year-old Centrex/ISDN system. It was complex to manage and use, required equipment that was difficult to repair or replace, and often dropped transferred calls.

Identifying a system that would streamline efficiencies

Prior to the ShoreTel deployment, the Centrex system was reaching its end-of-life and did not support the city’s latest initiatives for improving customer service, streamlining internal communications, increasing operational efficiency, and reducing costs. San Luis Obispo needed a phone system that aligned with its forward-looking agenda.

Gartner conducted a study of communications in the city, and concluded that a voice over IP phone system would be the best way to improve customer service, streamline efficiency, and reduce costs.

“We needed a new system that could be configured for our established business processes and workflows,” explains Steve Schmidt, information technology manager for San Luis Obispo. “To change our processes and workflows would have been too costly and time-consuming—we had to make the transition as easy and transparent to callers as possible.” The new systems also had to allow the city to keep the same phone numbers and easily interoperate with the city’s Extreme network.

ShoreTel offered the most value for the money

San Luis Obispo evaluated systems from a long list of both traditional and IP PBX suppliers, and reduced the list to ShoreTel and Mitel. “ShoreTel’s interoperability with Extreme was a huge advantage because we were confident that both solutions would work well together,” says Schmidt. “We also liked the fact that ShoreTel switches are solid state with no moving parts other than the fan, which makes the system highly reliable.”

After talking with several customer references and attending a demonstration, Schmidt recommended ShoreTel to city management, and the decision was finalized. “It was easy to see that the ShoreTel Unified Communications (UC) system was simple to support and had a low cost of ownership,” adds Schmidt. “The system met all our requirements and the price was very competitive. The bottom line was that ShoreTel offered the most value for the money.”

“The installation went very smoothly,” comments Schmidt. “We carried out the cutover on a Friday and on Monday we were doing business. The change was completely transparent to both callers and staff.”

ShoreTel helps city staff work more efficiently and effectively

ShoreTel’s ease of administration has helped San Luis Obispo’s IT staff be more productive. Since the organization’s small IT team can manage the ShoreTel system, there is more time to advance strategic IT initiatives.

 “When we discovered that ShoreTel maintenance took less than 15 minutes, we were astonished. In the past we had to place a service call just to add a new extension, and end users had to wait several days. Now we can make these changes ourselves with a standard Web browser—anytime and from any location. From flexible voicemail options to integration with Microsoft Outlook calendar, ShoreWare® Call Manager helps city staff work more efficiently and effectively,” Schmidt explains.

Police stay mobile and connected

Unified messaging provides one of the system’s most valuable benefits, especially for San Luis Obispo’s police officers. With ShoreTel, officers now have individual voicemail boxes and can pick up messages from any phone, as well as through email.

ShoreTel’s Find Me feature lets callers reach officers simply by calling the main number, eliminating the need to give out DID and cell phone numbers. “They can stay in communication regardless of location, and no longer have to take time from other responsibilities to check messages,” explains Schmidt. “And they can return important calls immediately without revealing their cell phone or direct numbers.”

“WE WANTED TO GO WITH A SYSTEM THAT WASN’T LIMITED BY COPPER ON OUR CAMPUS. WE ALSO WANTED A SYSTEM THAT WOULD PROVIDE INTEGRATED AND CENTRALIZED VOICEMAIL SO THAT EVERYONE IN EVERY OFFICE WOULD BE ON THE SAME SYSTEM. WE
DECIDED TO LOOK AT VOIP SYSTEMS FROM CISCO, INTERTEL, NORTEL, AND SHORETEL.”

Ed Castle, IT Manager
City of Sioux Falls

“Conference calls are also very simple to set up and ShoreTel’s presence feature also makes it easy and fast to see if people are available,” says Schmidt. “With the old system, receptionists had to look at a 50-button console to determine if someone was on the phone. Now the staff can easily see if people are available, on the phone, out of the office, or in a meeting. Not only are callers directed appropriately, customer service is better because we can get answers faster.”

ShoreTel’s workgroups and sophisticated rules-based call routing enhance customer service since every call is answered and handled properly. San Luis Obispo created 26 separate ShoreTel workgroups—one for each of the city’s main telephone lines, such as utility billing, garbage collection, and building permits. This allows supervisors to manage queues for optimal service; workgroup reporting gives them insight for better planning and staffing.

Built-in reliability keeps calls connected

Phone system downtime is no longer a worry thanks to ShoreTel’s distributed architecture and flexible configuration options. Using reports supplied by ShoreWare® Director, the IT team were able to pinpoint the T1 capacity needed to build redundancy into the network. With the optimal capacity in place, the ShoreTel system handles outages and switchovers automatically, without missing a beat. If a T1 line goes down, users never notice. They can still make and receive calls.

Routine changes such as adding and moving extensions have also disappeared from Schmidt’s list of daily challenges. “We always have a lot of people moving around as a result of department reorganizations,” says Schmidt. “In the past, we had to issue a service order to the carrier to make adds, changes, and moves.”

Reliability and scalability enable system expansion.

Feeling confident about the reliability and scalability of the initial ShoreTel implementation, the city is on track to deploy the system in its new dispatch center. Schmidt anticipates that this ShoreTel deployment will be as smooth and trouble-free as the initial one. “ShoreTel’s reliability and flexibility means that communication just happens – when, where, and how it needs to. Thanks to ShoreTel, every part of city government can focus on serving the public and take the phone system for granted,” says Schmidt.

“THE SHORETEL UC SYSTEM HAS ENABLED US TO TAKE BACK CONTROL OF OUR PHONE SYSTEM. EASE OF USE HAS ENSURED USERS ARE NO LONGER BOGGED DOWN PERFORMING ROUTINE TASKS, SUCH AS MOVING AND ADDING USERS, AND CAN GET ON
WITH THEIR APPROPRIATE JOB ROLES.”

CHALLENGE:

  • San Luis Obispo’s 10-year-old Centrex system was costly to maintain, complicated to use, and difficult to manage. The city needed an agile phone system that met the needs of 480 city employees in diverse departments—from public safety to planning—and kept cost of ownership low.

SOLUTION:

  • The city deployed a ShoreTel IP Phone System that included ShoreGear Voice Switches and more than 400 ShorePhone IP telephones in 32 city offices, fire stations, and parks.

BENEFITS:

  • Rapid ROI due to ease of management
  • Ease of add/move/change extensions
  • Exceptional reliability
  • Pre-screening feature ensures better service