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Dougherty County School System Case Study

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Dougherty County School System cuts $150,000 in annual phone costs with a ShoreTel VoIP solution

Dougherty County School System

Eliminate steep line charges

The district had a newer Centrex PBX system, but the system relied on traditional phone lines that cost about $20 per line. With more than 600 lines, the district spent $12,000-$15,000 every month on its phone bill.

Improve communications and TCO

Like most K-12 school districts nationwide, the Dougherty County School System in Albany, Georgia has struggled with state and federal budget cuts. Dougherty saw IP telephony as the key to breaking free from these steep phone line costs. Stormwood, an Atlanta-based ShoreTel channel partner, proposed the ShoreTel solution to Dougherty County Schools.

“Beyond potential cost savings – estimated at upwards of $12,000 a month – the many features of ShoreTel technology would significantly benefit district communications,” says Nate Griffin, ShoreTel Partner and president and CEO of Stormwood, Inc.

“When we saw the ShoreTel system, there was really no reason to look anywhere else,” states Bill Freeman, technical services supervisor for Dougherty County School System and a 25-year employee with the district. “It was the ease of adding new users, having call history records, being able to make journal notes about calls, the voicemail feature, integration with Microsoft Outlook, and the control points. A big feature was being able to block 411 calls. And we could reduce our Centrex costs by eliminating a lot of our lines.”

With the ShoreTel system, the district would cut costs by operating with 500 fewer lines by leveraging its existing analog phones, blocking 411 directory calls and 800 calls, and closely controlling long-distance calling.

The district funded the system through a combination of sources. Ninety percent was covered by E-Rate, a government program to help schools afford telecommunications and Internet access. A local sales tax, designed to support schools in Dougherty County, funded the remaining 10 percent, meaning Dougherty brought in ShoreTel technology at virtually no cost to the district.

ShoreTel provides a lesson in streamlining processes

With Stormwood’s help, Dougherty implemented the system in all 39 of its locations over the course of a few months. The ShoreTel infrastructure includes the ShoreTel Voice Switches. With an embedded, real-time operating system, each switch ensures dial tone with exceptional reliability.

The district provided phones to more than 600 administrative personnel, and rolled out voicemail – a feature new to 1,700 district staff and faculty. Before, office staff had to handwrite messages for teachers. Now they simply transfer calls or calls go straight to the appropriate phones or voicemail boxes. Teachers can check their messages from any phone, and receive direct, detailed messages from parents.

Dougherty also takes advantage of ShoreTel’s integrated messaging with Microsoft Outlook. Unified messaging lets users receive voicemails in their email inboxes, direct dial to Outlook contacts, and schedule calls on their calendars. For administrative personnel who make dozens of calls a day, the personal call history serves as an important record of their activities. With Call Manager, each phone user can access a directory in the ShoreTel system to locate district numbers quickly.

“BEYOND POTENTIAL COST SAVINGS – ESTIMATED AT UPWARDS OF $12,000 A MONTH – THE MANY FEATURES OF SHORETEL TECHNOLOGY WOULD SIGNIFICANTLY BENEFIT DISTRICT COMMUNICATIONS.”

Nate Griffin, ShoreTel Partner and President
and CEO of Stormwood, Inc.

Tech staff configures users from any browser

Freeman has found particular value in the administrative capabilities of the ShoreTel system. Typically, the start of each school year has brought about 1,000 phone-related work orders, which in the past required Freeman or another member of his team to troubleshoot on-site at schools. Each visit could take up to an hour.

Now, the team handles more than 90 percent of all calls from the ShoreTel interface. In about five minutes, they complete a move, add, or change for a user. Such time savings not only allow the staff to handle other issues, but also minimize delays for users.

“Personnel are constantly moving, especially at the beginning of each year,” Freeman explains. “If I need to make a change to a user, or reset a password, I can log in from any computer, anywhere, and make the necessary changes. We reroute their extension number to their location and they carry the same number with them.”

From any browser, Freeman can also access phone usage records. Technical services can also control long-distance usage by enabling it only on a specific phone at a designated time.

ShoreTel saves the budget-strapped district at least $150,000 per year

Next, Dougherty plans to install a phone in every classroom, which will further connect staff, faculty, and parents, and offer added security. The district will minimize costs by using analog phones with its ShoreTel system.

“Dougherty County as a whole is like a big family. We stress, ‘It’s not your coworker, but your family.’ The Stormwood guys are just like family to us, too. They are just a phone call away,” says Freeman.

By cutting most of its phone line costs and additional expenses like 411, Dougherty County keeps at least $150,000 a year – a dramatic cost savings that adds padding to the district’s strained budget and can be allocated to other initiatives.

ShoreTel advanced features allow staff, faculty, and parents to connect more quickly and directly, while relieving office staff. Likewise, Technical Services personnel save nearly an hour for every phonerelated work order, amounting to about 800 hours of time saved at the start of each school year.

“ShoreTel backs up our ISO efforts by making us more efficient and effective,” says Robert Lloyd, executive director of business and finance at Dougherty. “With the ability to log calls and see a history of calls, we do what we say, and can say what we do.”

“SHORETEL BACKS UP OUR ISO EFFORTS BY MAKING US MORE EFFICIENT AND EFFECTIVE. WITH THE ABILITY TO LOG CALLS AND SEE A HISTORY OF CALLS, WE DO WHAT WE SAY, AND CAN SAY WHAT WE DO.” Robert Lloyd

Executive Director of Business and Finance
Dougherty County School System

In Freeman’s 25 years with the district, he counts the ShoreTel implementation as one of the most successful. “With the cost savings and all the features we have, ShoreTel has been by far the best technical addition I’ve seen,” concludes Freeman.

CHALLENGE:

  • As part of its focus on outstanding business practices, in 2002 the district looked to its phone system to improve communications and cut costs.

SOLUTION:

  • ShoreTel UC included ShoreTel IP Phones, ShoreTel Voice Switches, ShoreTel Contact Center, ShoreTel Communicator and ShoreTel Support Switches.

BENEFITS:

  • Significantly lower TCO
  • ROI in under three years
  • Simpler administration and more flexibility
  • Higher end-user productivity