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Muskogee Public Schools Case Study

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ShoreTel’s IP UC solution offers Muskogee Public Schools a lesson in rapid ROI, lower TCO, heightened security, and getting more for taxpayer dollars

Muskogee Public Schools

Doing its homework

The school district needed a solution that was easy and efficient to manage in-house, could meet the unique UC requirements of an educational environment, and could enhance the school district’s response in emergency situations.

Control costs and realize a lower TCO

The Muskogee School District’s Eric Wells, director of IT, and his team, are responsible for the technology and maintenance of 14 sites that serve students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade. Wells’ team also supports the 1:1 student initiative, a program that provides a laptop or iPad to all 6,300 students to use during the school year.

Beleaguered by a system that was becoming costprohibitive to maintain, it was time to consider a new phone system that offered a better telephony feature set, improved emergency response, and simplified administrative support—all while achieving greater cost efficiencies and savings.

Its previous Cisco system was not user-friendly, difficult to support, licenses were expensive, and it was kludged together. Although expensive, the quality of Cisco handsets didn’t meet Wells’ expectations. “Cisco nickel-and-dimed the district by charging for just about every feature, high costs for lesser-quality equipment and multiple licenses,” explains Wells. “Avaya lacked the features we desired.”

Muskogee Public Schools graduate to ShoreTel UC

The team was challenged to find and justify a cost-effective VoIP solution. After evaluating Avaya, Cisco, and ShoreTel, Muskogee Public Schools selected ShoreTel. The ShoreTel Unified Communication (UC) system included a number of advanced features for less than the cost of the old, maintenance-intensive Cisco system. Plus, ShoreTel was the only system that was built from the ground up to be an IP solution.

After it was obvious to the selection team (including the superintendent, teachers, and other staff members) that ShoreTel was notably higher-quality,cost less, and offered a far more robust feature set.

“ShoreTel was the most cost-effective in terms of both initial costs and long-term total cost of ownership,” says Wells. “From day one the district saved money. Since ShoreTel is built on open standards, we weren’t required to buy expensive, proprietary servers and equipment, and no longer needed to pay for costly third-party support contracts and fees for services like conferencing.”

Due to excellent preplanning, Wells and his team deployed the system over a weekend, installing 800 IP phones across 14 sites. To prepare for ShoreTel UC, the district implemented a fiber-optic connection between sites, along with upgrading its entire network infrastructure.

Advanced features make the grade

A feature favorite is voicemail to email. Now everyone can access their voicemail messages from any phone or receive the messages via .wav files in their email inbox. This gives them the flexibility to receive calls and retrieve messages at any time, from any location. Four-digit dialing and dialing by name have eliminated the need for a paper directory.

ShoreTel’s Conferencing Bridge eliminates expensive conferencing services and tightly integrates with major enterprise applications for faster and automated access of directories and other resources. Muskogee Public School District uses the built-in conferencing services for both internal and external meetings.

Also included in the school district’s new VoIP platform is ShoreTel Communicator, another faculty favorite. Communicator simplifies by unifying how people work, with versatile tools accessible from computers and mobile devices for advanced call management.

“SINCE SHORETEL IS BUILT ON OPEN STANDARDS, WE WEREN’T REQUIRED TO BUY EXPENSIVE, PROPRIETARY SERVERS AND EQUIPMENT, AND NO LONGER NEEDED TO PAY FOR COSTLY THIRD-PARTY SUPPORT CONTRACTS AND FEES FOR SERVICES LIKE CONFERENCING.”

Eric Wells, Director of IT
Muskogee Public Schools

ShoreTel is anything but old school when it comes to better security and responsiveness

To enhance the school district’s safety and security processes, the ShoreTel Emergency Notification Application was also deployed. The application provides additional communications by expanding native emergency number support with automated alerting and built-in messaging to support coordination in response to emergency situations.

For example, the ShoreTel IP UC system provides calling party information to 911 services during an emergency, and ShoreTel’s Emergency Notification Application provides internal notification to the school’s police, and designated executive-level staff, that a 911 call has been placed. Alerts include the name, extension number, and exact location of the caller. By receiving simultaneous notification, the school district can immediately create an appropriate and unified response to the emergency. Built-in messaging allows callers to send text messages to one another from their desktops, further improving their ability to coordinate a timely response.

“The ShoreTel Emergency Notification Application helps us ensure the safety of students, teachers, administrators, and visitors by facilitating a quick and accurate response in case of an emergency, whether it’s medical emergency or the need to escort a visitor off campus that doesn’t pass our background check,” says Wells.

After setting up jobs in the dispatch system, service centre agents are able to use the instant messaging features within ShoreTel Communicator to assign engineers directly with the job number and for the engineers to respond and accept immediately.

The district gives ShoreTel high marks

With ShoreTel, the district saves 75 percent of the cost of handsets alone and more than $70,000 a year by eliminating maintenance costs. Wells and his team also use ShoreTel Director for management of the ShoreTel system. It is a browser-based management interface that provides access to the system from anywhere on the network, enabling easy and efficient management, including moves, adds, and changes.

The ShoreTel solution helped the school realize a faster return on investment as compared to other manufacturer solutions. “The ROI and TCO projections are significant. We’re saving at every turn. The ShoreTel equipment was easy to install and the system is also easy to administer. We’re doing adds/moves/changes in minutes instead of weeks. Overall, ShoreTel offers the best feature set, highest quality, easiest administration at the right price–it just works,” concludes Wells. “What more could you want?”

“THE ROI AND TCO PROJECTIONS ARE SIGNIFICANT. WE’RE SAVING AT EVERY TURN. THE SHORETEL EQUIPMENT WAS EASY TO INSTALL AND THE SYSTEM IS ALSO EASY TO ADMINISTER. WE’RE DOING ADDS/ MOVES/ CHANGES IN MINUTES INSTEAD OF WEEKS.”

CHALLENGE:

Muskogee Public Schools is a large, progressive district that has invested heavily in a state-ofthe- art technology infrastructure. The district wanted maximum value and updated security features to improve emergency responsiveness.

SOLUTION:

ShoreTel provided a lower TCO, faster ROI, and numerous productivity features via ShoreTel Conferencing Bridge, ShoreTel Communicator, ShoreTel Emergency Notification Application, ShoreTel Voice Switches, and ShoreTel IP Phones.

BENEFITS:

  • Enhanced security and responsiveness
  • Rapid ROI with payback in three years
  • Ability to handle maintenance in-house
  • Flexibility and scalability to support business growth.
  • Significantly lower TCO

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