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Perkiomen Valley School District Case Study

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Case Studies

ShoreTel helps Perkiomen Valley School District graduate to ShoreTel IP UC solutions and realize cost savings of 75 percent

Legacy system didn’t make the grade

The district was renovating the high school. The building had a stand-alone legacy PBX-based system, which was not expandable, so the district took the opportunity to investigate other options.

Needed a reliable, scalable system

By the time the service contract came to an end, the district was renovating the high school and adding a new science and technology building. The high school building had been using a standalone legacy PBX-based system, which was not expandable, so rather than extending the unreliable hosted solution to the new building, the district took the opportunity to investigate other options.

“We often found ourselves in system outages that we had no control over,” says Mike Balik, IT manager for the Perkiomen Valley School District. “The concept of the hosted VoIP system sounded impressive, but since we had no control over the system at our district, we were left with frustration and nowhere to turn when we experienced reliability problems.”

After the district issued a Request For Information (RFI) and evaluating several systems, ShoreTel and Alcatel made the short list. The next step was to attend live demonstrations of both systems, talk to customer references, and visit customer sites to see the solutions working in real time.

“After seeing the Alcatel system working, we realized it was not the right fit for us,” says Balik. “It seemed that there was a great deal of system management involved. By contrast, the ShoreTel UC System was tightly integrated, very easy to manage, and ShoreTel IP phones were far superior in quality to any other phone we considered.”

Once the district was ready to make the final purchase, Liquid Networks, a trusted systems integrator and ShoreTel partner, supplied five voice switches, as well as two voicemail servers (one serves as a backup) and ShoreTel IP phones.

Ease of implementation gets an A+

ShoreTel and Liquid Networks staff worked closely with the Perkiomen Valley IT group during installation in the first two buildings, but Balik and his team quickly deployed the system to the rest of the buildings without assistance.

“The ShoreTel UC system was very easy to learn,” explains Balik. “After receiving help with the high school and administration buildings, we could complete the remaining sites by ourselves with only a few occasional questions through email.”

As a result of choosing ShoreTel, the Perkiomen district no longer needs to use additional outside lines to reach other buildings. All district employees are on the same phone and voicemail system, using four-digit dialing to reach co-workers and dialing one another by name. Calls can be transferred the same way.

With ShoreTel Personal Call Manager, employees can quickly type in a name, bring up a number, and calls from local online directories—all with the click of a mouse from the desktop.

Cost savings of 75 percent puts more technology in students’ hands

For Balik and his small IT team, all this functionality comes at a tremendous cost savings over the previous hosted solution: “The cost factor alone was huge—before we were paying more and receiving less for our investment,” says Balik.

“Now, with long-distance service and ShoreTel maintenance, we have reduced our costs by almost 75 percent. This kind of savings seemed like a fantasy only a few years ago.”

“THE CONCEPT OF THE HOSTED VOIP SYSTEM SOUNDED IMPRESSIVE, BUT SINCE WE HAD NO CONTROL OVER THE SYSTEM AT OUR DISTRICT, WE WERE LEFT WITH FRUSTRATION AND NOWHERE TO TURN WHEN WE EXPERIENCED RELIABILITY PROBLEMS.”

Mike Balik, IT Manager
Perkiomen Valley School District

The savings derived from the ShoreTel UC system are one of the biggest benefits to the Perkiomen Valley School District. “ShoreTel has allowed us to do more educationally because we don’t have to spend so much on our communications system. Now we can put more technology into the hands of our students – and that is the largest benefit,” says Balik.

Another huge benefit for this modern district that prides itself on ensuring ongoing communications with parents and the community is the reliability of the ShoreTel UC system. ShoreTel call control software is distributed to every voice switch, which eliminates any single point of failure. In the highly unlikely event that a switch fails, such as a power outage to the building, the other switches on the network automatically take on the callprocessing load.

“The ShoreTel UC system is not something I spend very much of my day on, and that peace of mind is very important,” says Balik. “The system is always up and running, and that has meant many other intangible benefits, such as time savings, increased efficiency, and faster responses.”

ShoreTel reduces costs and simplifies management

Since the district did not add headcount to the IT staff to accommodate a new communications system, ease of use was essential to ensure workload balance among existing staff, and a key factor in the purchasing decision. The Perkiomen Valley IT group uses ShoreTel Director, a Web browser-based management interface that provides easy system access and management from anywhere on the network.

With ShoreTel Director, Balik can manage all aspects of the system, including voicemail, automated attendants, and adds, moves, and changes quickly and easily. When a new user is added, in a few clicks the system automatically updates the centralized database and every voice switch.

“Converging voice and data on one network with the ShoreTel UC system has helped reduce infrastructure costs and simplified management,” concludes Balik. “And it will be easy to scale if we add another building to the network, or decide to add features in the future. Users have an interface they like and are comfortable with, and I feel confident our team could handle the expansion of another site on our own.”

“CONVERGING VOICE AND DATA ON ONE NETWORK WITH THE SHORETEL UC SYSTEM HAS HELPED REDUCE INFRASTRUCTURE COSTS AND SIMPLIFIED MANAGEMENT. AND IT WILL BE EASY TO SCALE IF WE ADD ANOTHER BUILDING TO THE NETWORK, OR DECIDE TO ADD FEATURES IN THE FUTURE.”

CHALLENGE:

  • Perkiomen Valley School District expanded its facilities. Reliability and cost issues with its previous hosted Voice over IP solution led IT staff to consider alternative inhouse options.

SOLUTION:

  • The Perkiomen Valley School District chose the ShoreTel Unified Communications (UC) system and deployed ShoreTel Voice Switches, voicemail servers, a conference phone, and ShoreTel IP phones district-wide.

BENEFITS:

  • Savings of 75 percent over the previous system
  • Freed up budget for other educational resources
  • Reliability with no single point of failure
  • Ability to rapidly scale