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Columbia Public Schools Case Study

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Case Studies

Columbia Public Schools chose ShoreTel’s Unified Communication VoIP solution to ensure quality communications now and in the future

Columbia Public School

 

Upgrade or replace

The district was at the point where the incumbent NEC phone system needed massive upgrades. The decision was made to rip and replace NEC with ShoreTel’s UC VoIP solution.

ShoreTel’s integration capabilities and unique architecture make the grade

Chris Diggs, director of technology services for Columbia Public Schools, is responsible for the telephony needs of 3,000 employees and 18,000 students across 40 campuses and 2,000 classrooms.

Diggs and her team reviewed options from Avaya, Mitel, Cisco, and Alcatel Lucent. The team decided that ShoreTel would best integrate with the analog phones. “We have a safety requirement in our schools that requires us to have analog phones in classrooms for emergency purposes.  But since those phones are rarely used, I did not want to have to data wire them or replace them with more expensive VOIP phones. What we really needed was an analog/VoIP hybrid system,” explains Diggs.

The district also was impressed with ShoreTel’s unique architecture, which is purpose built for UC and VoIP platforms. “We didn’t want a modern system built on top of a legacy system. ShoreTel designed a 21st-century telephony solution. In the end, we decided ShoreTel could take us into the future,” says Diggs.

ShoreTel functionality gets high marks for value

Dollar for dollar, ShoreTel offered Columbia Public Schools a more extensive feature set, which included conferencing, mobility, and E911 functionality. With E911, the call can go out from a specific location, anywhere on campus. Key personnel are immediately alerted and first responders are directed to the exact location in the school where the call originated. “Pinpointing the exact location and notifying school officials automatically is very helpful. We’re responsible for providing the best care for thousands of students in this district,” says Diggs. 

“WE DIDN’T WANT A MODERN SYSTEM BUILT ON TOP OF A LEGACY SYSTEM. SHORETEL DESIGNED A 21ST-CENTURY TELEPHONY SOLUTION. IN THE END, WE DECIDED ON A SYSTEM THAT WOULD TAKE US INTO THE FUTURE. THAT SYSTEM WAS SHORETEL.”

Chris Diggs, Director of Technology Services
Columbia Public Schools

Mobility features were also high on the list of the district’s priorities. Some of the office staff and teachers change locations from one school year to the next, and new employees are hired all the time. IT needed a phone system that enabled the team to instantly create new extensions. In addition, many of the administrators use personal cell phones. ShoreTel Mobility cuts the cost of roaming by enabling users to switch to Wi-Fi and use it when they have Wi-Fi available. Users can also set up the system to display their office phone number rather than their personal cell phone number. 

Several other ShoreTel features have staff and faculty raving. “I think the way that the phone book is organized has been well received. Also, having voicemails delivered to email is a huge plus because a lot of our administrators and staff are not at their desk all day long. They’re pretty mobile and so not having to return to their desk to check email regularly is not only convenient but saves time,” says Diggs.

ShoreTel provides a lesson in the advantages of a future-proof telephony solution

From implementation to user experience, the ShoreTel UC VoIP was the best possible solution for Columbia Public Schools. “I’d recommend ShoreTel because I like how they designed their phone system and I found them wanting to actually partner with us through the implementation and ensure our satisfaction with the product,” explains Diggs. “ShoreTel and our partner were 100 percent committed to our success.”

“I’D RECOMMEND SHORETEL BECAUSE I LIKE HOW THEY DESIGNED THEIR PHONE SYSTEM AND I FOUND THEM WANTING TO ACTUALLY PARTNER WITH US THROUGH THE IMPLEMENTATION AND ENSURE OUR SATISFACTION WITH THE PRODUCT. SHORETEL AND OUR PARTNER WERE 100 PERCENT COMMITTED TO OUR SUCCESS.”

 

CHALLENGE:

  • An aging NEC system needed expensive upgrades, which didn’t make financial sense. But the district had to have a solution that integrated with more than 2,000 analog phones, mandatory in every classroom.

SOLUTION:

  • Columbia Public Schools deployed a ShoreTel UC VoIP system that integrated with the existing analog phones and offered extensive features such as mobility and E911. The installation was completed on time and under the projected budget. 

BENEFITS:

  • E911 capabilities
  • Robust mobility features
  • Ease of management in-house
  • Cost savings on roaming charges