Seattle Housing Authority Case Study
Seattle Housing Authority moves up to Mitel VoIP to save $7,500 a year and gain reliability, robust functionality and emergency notification capabilities
Telephony system too old to fix
A frail 20+-year-old system from the Fujitsu company, which is no longer in the telephony business, left the Seattle Housing Authority with no choice but to implement a new solution.
Best value for the money
The Seattle Housing Authority has 500 employees working in 60 offices scattered throughout the Seattle metro area. Since rehabilitating its legacy system was not an option, the organization began looking for a new solution.
“Our first step was to send out an RFI so we could better understand the landscape of the technology that’s available now. Once we had more information, we created our RFP. We received responses from 12 different vendors that represented five manufacturers,” says Steve McDowell, chief information officer for the Seattle Housing Authority. “Based on the results of our RFI, we also pulled together a cross section of agency staff, showed them what was available, and came up with criteria that included a robust feature set, extreme reliability, flexibility, and emergency-response capabilities.”
After careful consideration, the Seattle Housing Authority ended up narrowing to three vendors. A local Mitel partner impressed the team with the Mitel feature set and value for the money.
Seattle Housing Authority is right at home with Mitel
The Mitel implementation went smoothly due to upfront planning and the expertise of the Mitel partner. The Seattle Housing Authority ran the Mitel system and the Fujitsu system side by side, and tested the cutover phase of deployment a week before the event.
“On the day of the cutover, it was actually pretty uneventful. We had already trained the users; they had a chance to set up their mailboxes and telephones. It was just a question of setting up the infrastructure behind the scenes. I don't think the average user appreciates just how much work went into that—it was literally months of preparation,” explains McDowell.
The organization currently uses a variety of features, including Mitel Mobility, Mitel Enterprise Contact Center, Mitel E-911 Emergency Notification, and Mitel Communicator.
Mitel mobility features have enhanced productivity since the employees who need flexibility are no longer tied to their desks. “We have several people who telecommute, and they are probably our big users of Mitel Mobility. The other group that is benefiting is our property managers, who are often in and out of our buildings. It is a big help for them,” says McDowell.
Mitel reliability and emergency communication E-911 applications also weighed heavily in the organization’s selection of Mitel. “We need to be able to communicate with each other, with our residents, and with the city in the event of an emergency. We also need to be able to dispatch our maintenance employees if we have an earthquake or another scenario that requires them to go out and check the stability of our buildings, which certainly becomes extremely important in the case of an unplanned event,” states McDowell.
Users have also been pleased with Mitel Communicator features such as call history and the company directory. Employees can look up numbers by pressing a few keys. They can see the call history, hit one button, and call people back, which has really been an enhancement to productivity.
“WE HAVE SEVERAL PEOPLE WHO TELECOMMUTE, AND THEY ARE PROBABLY OUR BIG USERS OF SHORETEL MOBILITY. THE OTHER GROUP THAT IS BENEFITING IS OUR PROPERTY MANAGERS, WHO ARE OFTEN IN AND OUT OF TENANT BUILDINGS. IT’LL BE A BIG HELP FOR THEM.”
Steve McDowell, Chief Information Officer
Seattle Housing Authority
Mitel saves $7,500 a year during phase one
The agency calculates a savings of $7,500 a year. The ability to use one model of telephone, the Mitel IP 480, was a big advantage because it simplified training. The Seattle Housing Authority was also able to eliminate point-to-point T1s that it no longer needed, and that saved the agency even more money.
“We're very impressed with Mitel. And the biggest thing in the end is that our users were satisfied and everybody is happy. People, when they came out of the training for the new system, were just pumped – really excited about the prospect of a new system and what it could do for them,” concludes McDowell. “I can tell you that I actually looked at Mitel probably 15 or 16 years ago when it was a new up-and-comer, and we’ve actually attended a couple of presentations over the years. Now it seems like everyone's selling the Mitel system. Mitel’s done a fantastic job getting market share, and it’s easy to see why.”
Moving forward, the Seattle Housing Authority has several items on its agenda. It just installed the Trivium emergency notification system and plans to look at mobility in detail to see how it can take advantage of the technology. “We're going to be looking at some of those places where we have bulky systems to see if it makes sense to have them run off the main Mitel system and expand Mitel to other sites and users. As far as Mitel cloud options are concerned, they look attractive, but we'll see when we get down the road,” concludes McDowell.
“WE’RE VERY IMPRESSED WITH SHORETEL. AND THE BIGGEST THING IN THE END IS THAT OUR USERS WERE SATISFIED AND EVERYBODY IS HAPPY. PEOPLE, WHEN THEY CAME OUT OF THE TRAINING FOR THE NEW SYSTEM, WERE JUST PUMPED – REALLY EXCITED ABOUT THE PROSPECT OF A NEW SYSTEM AND WHAT IT COULD DO FOR THEM.”
The Seattle Housing Authority was limping along with an aging Fujitsu system, a dwindling number of parts suppliers, and a declining pool of technical support.
Mitel provided the organization with a VoIP system for 320 users, including Mitel Voice Switches, Mitel IP 480 Phones, Mitel Enterprise Contact Center, Mitel E-911, and Mitel Communicator.
- Emergency response
- Mobility for off-site employees
- Increased reliability
- Savings of $7,500 per year