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Southern Polytechnic State University Case Study

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Case Studies

Southern Polytechnic State University reduces costs, boosts productivity, and improves student services with ShoreTel VoIP

Southern Polytechnic State University

Substandard services, high costs

SPSU’s Centrex telephone system and the services provided by the Georgia Technology Authority were proving to be very costly, so SPSU began its search for a new solution.

A VoIP solution that was reliable and easily manageable at a lower TCO

SPSU, founded in 1948, is a residential, coeducational member of the very progressive University System of Georgia, and has an exceptional reputation. When it was time to replace its end-of-life Centrex system, the university considered Voice over IP (VoIP) to capitalize on the cost savings and ease-of-use features of the technology. The team evaluated VoIP solutions from 3Com, Avaya, Nortel, and ShoreTel.

“When we decided to go with VoIP, we looked at a lot of vendors, including ShoreTel, and our top priority was reliability,” says Bill Gruszka, chief information officer at SPSU. “We also wanted to be able to phase the new system in easily, utilizing the existing analog phones.”

Upon close inspection of the solutions and after speaking with numerous customers, SPSU decided on ShoreTel for the reliability, seamless integration, lower cost of ownership, and management simplicity.

“SPSU is known as Georgia’s technology university—where we develop minds to serve the real world,” explains Gruszka. “ShoreTel fits perfectly into this mission. We won a Board of Regents Best Practices Award for Information Technology with this ShoreTel implementation. It was a clear choice at the beginning, and daily we see more and more benefits derived from the new ShoreTel VoIP system.”

Phased approach minimizes downtime and costs

ShoreTel provided ShoreTel Voice Switches and collaborated with the university on the configuration and deployment. The deployment happened over 18 months. “Being able to operate seamlessly in a hybrid environment was critical to our operations,” Gruszka says. “This flexibility is something we have come to expect and appreciate from ShoreTel.”

“We did a phased implementation so that we had no downtime and the changes were seamless,” explains Gruszka. “The first departments to get the new gear were the busiest departments—student services and financial aid. The positive feedback from those departments fueled faster expansion to the rest of the departments.”

The university is using ShoreTel Communicator, as well as voicemail, workgroup, and Softphone capabilities. ShoreTel Communicator allows SPSU employees to manage their voice communications quickly and easily from their desktop, as well as quickly browse contacts and make calls from local directories or from Microsoft Outlook.

With ShoreTel’s workgroups, SPSU can consolidate all its calls to one number and calls are then routed to the next available call center staff member. “The workgroup features have improved our telephone response time considerably in the financial aid, finance, admissions, and the registrar’s office,” says Gruszka. “By using the on-site administration, call answering points may be added to any of these groups ‘on the fly’ as incoming call traffic demands.”

ShoreTel solution provides ROI within one year

The deployment costs were completely recovered within the very first year. “The savings we realize every year with the ShoreTel system—which we estimate at $202,000 per year—are even more than the one-time implementation cost,” exclaims Gruszka. “That includes the operational costs savings because we can manage it ourselves. ShoreTel accommodated all of our deployment requirements and came in at a great price, which is always a consideration for educational institutions.”

“BEING ABLE TO OPERATE SEAMLESSLY IN A HYBRID ENVIRONMENT WAS CRITICAL TO OUR OPERATIONS. THIS FLEXIBILITY IS SOMETHING WE HAVE COME TO EXPECT AND APPRECIATE FROM SHORETEL.”

Bill Gruszka, Chief Information Officer
Southern Polytechnic State University

Management costs are reduced

From anywhere on the network, an IT administrator can launch a Web browser and gain access to ShoreWare Director, ShoreTel’s browser-based management interface. Through this browser, every site and feature can be managed, including the PBX, voicemail, automated attendant, and desktop applications.

When a new user is added, the centralized database is automatically updated and every voice switch is notified. In addition, after the user information is entered, a mailbox is created, and the automated attendant dial-by-name and number feature and online directories are all updated within seconds.

“The day-to-day management of the ShoreTel phone system is simple—my administrative assistant handles everything,” says Gruszka. “We’re able to do moves, adds, and changes ourselves—on the fly and without any downtime. And users can make personal changes, such as voicemail messages and Follow Me Find Me commands, without ever having to ask anybody in IT. ShoreTel has simplified everything for us.”

ShoreTel enhances user productivity and improves customer service

The ShoreTel system provides integrated messaging, such as directory dialing, contact screen pop, caller ID, call waiting, and calendar integration. In addition, ShoreTel’s powerful Follow Me Find Me feature allows employees to configure the system so that people calling in can track them down on any phone number they choose—for instance, on their cell phone or another office phone.

“ShoreTel allows us to provide better service to our
faculty and staff, and also our students,” states
Gruszka. “Our users have a more robust system
than ever before. There is no comparison to the old
system, which is why our users forced expansion
by clamoring for the new ShoreTel phone.”

In addition to powerful user features, ShoreTel’s Call Control software is distributed to every voice switch, which eliminates any single point of failure in the system. In the unlikely event of a ShoreTel Voice Switch failure, other switches on the network will automatically take on the call-processing load so no call into SPSU is ever dropped.

“The bottom line is that this project uses technology to solve real-world problems, which is an exact match with our mission at the university,” concludes Gruszka. “We greatly appreciate the cost savings, simplicity, reliability, and vast feature set we get with ShoreTel, and look forward to continuing to work with the company during our growth.”

“THE BOTTOM LINE IS THAT THIS PROJECT USES TECHNOLOGY TO SOLVE REAL-WORLD PROBLEMS, WHICH IS AN EXACT MATCH WITH OUR MISSION AT THE UNIVERSITY.”

CHALLENGE:

  • Southern Polytechnic State University’s (SPSU) telephone system was outdated and could not keep up with growth, and service was substandard.

SOLUTION:

  • The university decided to implement ShoreTel Voice over IP (VoIP) solutions to capitalize on the cost savings, productivity, and ease-of-use features.

BENEFITS:

  • Rapid ROI
  • Annual cost savings of $202,500
  • Improved student services
  • Increased productivity