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Indian Hills Community College Case Study

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By deploying ShoreTel VoIP technology into the campus infrastructure, Community College lowers costs and gains long-term flexibility

Indian Hills Community College

Indian Hills Community College is among the first to deploy ShoreTel VoIP

Indian Hills Community College (IHCC) is one of 15 community colleges in Iowa, and serves nearly 5,000 students. The IT team decided that, even for a smaller college, the benefits of VoIP were too attractive to ignore.

Extend phone service, while cutting costs

“Higher education is a constantly changing environment, particularly in terms of technology requirements and our current phone system couldn’t keep up. I researched the features and benefits of VoIP and the top providers. Only one company was able to give us a complete solution that addressed every challenge we were facing. That company was ShoreTel,” explains Shane Molyneux, CIO at Indian Hills Community College.

During the discovery process, the team found that larger companies like Cisco offered a somewhat similar product. That ShoreTel built its system from the ground up was a differentiator. “ShoreTel is a phone company, and phones are specifically what they do. Cisco purchased several companies and pieced their hardware and software together. When we did a side-by-side comparison, Cisco wasn’t even close to the quality of ShoreTel. When a technology decision impacts budgets and thousands of end users, I’m putting my money on the best-of-breed company that lives and breathes telephony and VoIP,” says Molyneux.

Seamless deployment meant business as usual on campus

Large-scale technology upgrades can be problematic, but the IHCC VoIP phone deployment was painless. The IT team avoided phone outages by enabling the PBX system to communicate with the VoIP system, which ensured continuous service. The ShoreTel VoIP solution was fully implemented in less than two weeks. ROI was achieved in less than two years.

Maintenance has also been minimal. For the past 15 years, IT has replaced only two switches and the ShoreTel solution simplifies software upgrades and add/move/change administrative tasks. When staff members move offices, they can take their phones with them and simply plug them into the network for instant functionality. The solution also offers productivity features that the college’s previous PBX phones could not provide.

“SHORETEL IS A PHONE COMPANY, AND PHONES ARE SPECIFICALLY WHAT THEY DO. WHEN WE DID A SIDE-BY-SIDE COMPARISON, CISCO WASN’T EVEN CLOSE TO THE QUALITY OF SHORETEL. WHEN A TECHNOLOGY DECISION IMPACTS BUDGETS AND THOUSANDS OF END USERS, I’M PUTTING MY MONEY ON THE BEST-OF BREED COMPANY THAT LIVES AND BREATHES TELEPHONY AND VOIP.”

Shane Molyneux, CIO
Indian Hills Community College

A one-stop shop for student questions is a feature that has been implemented campus-wide. Instead of multiple phone numbers for questions on various topics like financial aid or admissions requirements, VoIP enabled the team to establish a single extension with a phone tree offering push-button options to callers. IT also uses the call management feature to track wait times, the number of calls per month, and other call data, which helps administrators determine appropriate staff requirements.

“I RESEARCHED THE FEATURES AND BENEFITS OF VOIP AND THE TOP PROVIDERS. ONLY ONE COMPANY WAS ABLE TO GIVE US A COMPLETE SOLUTION THAT ADDRESSED EVERY CHALLENGE WE WERE FACING. THAT COMPANY WAS SHORETEL.”

VoIP instantly reduces long-distance by $1,000 a month and maintenance costs by 50 percent

Transitioning to VoIP instantly reduced costs. Long-distance fees decreased more than $1,000 per month and maintenance costs decreased more than 50 percent. In addition, the phone system has virtually limitless scalability that requires no additional wiring and minimal IT support.

“Moving to ShoreTel VoIP made sense for us then and continues to fit our needs now. It allows us to focus on higher-priority issues. I don’t have to worry if the phones are working properly or if we’ll need to eventually upgrade again. It’s one less item on my long ‘to do’ list,” remarks Molyneux.

IHCC was one of ShoreTel’s first customers in the Midwest, and the team was enthusiastic about demonstrating the benefits of its ShoreTel VoIP phone system to other colleges in Iowa. “We were on the leading edge when we installed ShoreTel VoIP, but since then many of the schools in Iowa have followed suit,” concludes Molyneux.

“MOVING TO SHORETEL VOIP MADE SENSE FOR US THEN AND CONTINUES TO FIT OUR NEEDS NOW. IT ALLOWS US TO FOCUS ON HIGHER-PRIORITY ISSUES. I DON’T HAVE TO WORRY IF THE PHONES ARE WORKING PROPERLY OR IF WE’LL NEED TO EVENTUALLY UPGRADE AGAIN. IT’S ONE LESS ITEM ON MY LONG ‘TO DO’ LIST.”

CHALLENGE:

  • Indian Hills Community College’s (IHCC) aging, onsite PBX system was increasingly expensive, could no longer scale, and was costing thousands of dollars in longdistance fees. Moving to a VoIP system required an investment in new phones, maintenance agreements, and deployment to 14 IHCC locations.

SOLUTION:

  • Despite the investment, IHCC Chief Information Officer Shane Molyneux realized that implementing VoIP technology would enable IT to extend phone service campus-wide, including residence dorms, while lowering ongoing maintenance fees, and eliminating long-distance costs.

BENEFITS:

  • Enabled virtually unlimited scalability
  • Eliminated long-distance costs (for the 10-county area and
    surrounding area codes)
  • Included productivity features that PBX phones lack
  • Lowered maintenance costs