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North Central Texas College Case Study

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ShoreTel IP telephony makes the grade with North Central Texas College

North Central Texas College

Costs spiral out of control

A combination of Centrex and PBX was serving NCTC’s three campuses. The monthly telecom service costs were out of control, and no technicians in the area could service the old Fujitsu PBX.

VoIP system that was easy to use and manage

When it came time to make a decision, Steve Rigler, network system administrator for NCTC, didn’t have to think twice about whether to get rid of the college’s Centrex and PBXs.

“We had different systems on each of our three campuses and lots of management overhead,” Rigler explains. “There weren’t any processes for faculty and staff to get phone service, so anyone could call up and order a regular phone line.
We had a bunch of POTS lines coming into the campus and no one person who was responsible for telephones,” he adds. Worse, Centrex charges on one of three campuses were getting really expensive. And since faculty and staff couldn’t transfer calls or direct dial between campuses, long-distance charges were running almost $3,000 a month.

“We couldn’t transfer calls between different groups on campus. Students would call and want to speak to an instructor at another campus and were told they had to dial long distance to reach the right campus,” Rigler says. “We also couldn’t transfer calls to different student services, which caused headaches for operators and hurt productivity,” he adds.

So when NCTC began construction on a new building on the Gainesville campus, Rigler and his colleagues found that they were all out of extensions for new numbers. It provided the perfect opening for a wholesale upgrade. “We wanted to install a new phone system on all the campuses at the same time and put in a new phone system that would make things more unified,” Rigler says.

NCTC underwent an exhaustive request for proposal (RFP) process and looked at nearly 20 different vendors. It asked vendors to treat the three campuses as a single, virtual campus. NCTC also required the winning vendor to continue to
support analog phones with special features for faxing or fire alarms. In addition to ShoreTel, NCTC looked at Cisco, Avaya, and Iwatsu, and then narrowed its shortlist to ShoreTel and Iwatsu.

Field demo underscores ShoreTel superiority

Rigler and his colleagues made a field trip to Arlington Federal Credit Union in the Dallas metro area, which was using ShoreTel’s equipment and software in a three-site configuration with three T1 lines very similar to what NCTC had in mind.

“Seeing that demonstration sold us on ShoreTel,” Rigler says. Rigler also connected with ShoreTel customers to make sure he was getting the full story. “ShoreTel customers said that the system was fantastic,” Rigler says. “ShoreTel was the clear winner in terms of features, flexibility, and overall customer satisfaction.”

ShoreTel’s overall system architecture gets an A+

Rigler and his colleagues were impressed by the reliability of the ShoreTel distributed architecture as well as the simplicity of the ShoreTel Communicator that NCTC faculty, staff, and operators now rely on.

“We liked ShoreTel’s overall system architecture and the ability to do remote management via a web interface,” Rigler says. “I can’t tell you how many times we wished for this level of remote visibility into one of the other campus’ call
systems,” he adds.

Rigler and his colleagues can manage all three sites, including the PBX, voicemail, and automated attendant, from any location from any web

“WE HAD DIFFERENT SYSTEMS ON EACH OF OUR THREE CAMPUSES AND LOTS OF MANAGEMENT OVERHEAD. THERE WEREN’T ANY PROCESSES FOR FACULTY AND STAFF TO GET PHONE SERVICE, SO ANYONE COULD CALL UP AND ORDER A REGULAR PHONE LINE.”

Steve Rigler, Network System Administrator
North Central Texas College

browser, using ShoreTel Director. New users can be added in seconds from anywhere on the network using a browser. Even the installation of ShoreTel Voice Switches is plug-and-play.

With ShoreTel, there is no single point of failure for dial tone. Call management is distributed to every ShoreTel Voice Switch, making the system independent of LAN and WAN service interruption.

A definite trade-up

Before deploying the ShoreTel system, not all of NCTC’s users had voicemail, so gaining voicemail was one of the more immediate day-to-day productivity improvements for the faculty and staff.

“We went from a phone system that had no caller ID or voicemail to being able to transfer and conference calls. With ShoreTel, we made a full-blown leap forward in technology,” says Jason Mann, administrative computer support specialist for NCTC. His users also like ShoreTel’s ability to integrate with another vendor’s email application to get electronic notifications of pending voicemails.

Teaching faculty, staff, and operators to use ShoreTel Communicator was painless. “In less than two hours, users can get the basic features down easily,” says Jean Anderson, NCTC’s helpdesk manager. The admissions department puts the ShoreTel Contact Center through a most vigorous workout before each semester begins. ShoreTel’s Workgroup Contact Center enables workgroups to have voice call-routing so it can consolidate calls to a single number.

“Numerous agents answer the calls that are coming in on a single line,” Mann explains. “We can designate six people to handle all those calls to admissions when they start pouring in.”

ShoreTel offers a lesson in economics by saving the college $35,000 a year

The virtual PBX that embraces the three campuses also gives the college the routing flexibility and savings it desired in the first place. “What’s not to like about $35,000 in annual long-distance savings?” Rigler says, laughing. “We don’t have to pay the phone company to come out and do our moves, adds, and changes, and better yet, users aren’t sitting around at their new desks waiting for dial tone. Now when they unpack, dial tone is just an Ethernet jack away.”

“WE WENT FROM A PHONE SYSTEM THAT HAD NO CALLER ID OR VOICEMAIL TO BEING ABLE TO TRANSFER AND CONFERENCE CALLS. WITH SHORETEL, WE MADE A FULL-BLOWN LEAP FORWARD IN TECHNOLOGY.”

CHALLENGE:

  • Tie together North Central Texas College’s (NCTC) three campuses, control local and long-distance service costs, stop supporting three different voice platforms and Centrex services, and reduce monthly telecom service charges.

SOLUTION:

  • ShoreTel provided Voice Switches and ShoreTel Communicator to enable voicemail, directory calling, seamless call transferring, and workgroup call-center creation for different departments’ requirements.

BENEFITS:

  • Annual cost savings of $35,000 in long-distance charges
  • Maintenance via a web-based interface
  • Unified voice and data platform
  • Eliminated hundreds of POTs lines