Ferrier Hodgson Case Study
Office relocation presents an opportunity for Ferrier Hodgson to move up to ShoreTel IP
Move prompts upgrade
When leading insolvency specialist Ferrier Hodgson relocated to new offices in central Sydney, a refresh of its PBX system to voice over IP (VoIP) seemed like the right call.
Minimal maintenance, improved routing, scalability on the wish list
For years, the company leased a Samsung PABX system and Ferrier’s IT Manager Mustafa Mohabbat felt that it was time to make the transition to a leading-edge IP telephony technology platform.
Mohabbat wanted a new system that would require minimal time for maintenance and administration, reduce the number of calls to incorrect numbers, and improve call routing throughout the organization. The system also needed to be easy and efficient to deploy, reduce cabling costs, and easily scale as business grew.
“VoIP is the way telephony is heading – I didn’t simply want to relocate the old system, which was coming to the end of its lease. We felt it would be more cost-effective to move to a VoIP phone system,” says Mohabbat. “The most compelling issue was our need for a system that offered an upgrade path for the future.”
With the help of integration specialist PTS Communications, Ferrier Hodgson conducted an intensive review and looked at IP telephony systems from ShoreTel, Samsung, and Avaya. At the end the evaluation, Ferrier Hodgson selected the ShoreTel IP Unified Communications (UC) system. Nigel Sinclair, PTS Communications director, says that the main concern of staff at Ferrier Hodgson in moving to an IP solution was voice quality.
“The audio quality of the ShoreTel UC system during the demonstration was a standout. This feature alone set the ShoreTel offering apart from Samsung and Avaya,” explains Sinclair.
IT staff were also concerned with future scalability and ease of use. “The Samsung system we tested still relied on a PABX at the back-end and was limited in its future, while with Avaya, the handsets weren’t that great and the software was a bit cumbersome,” says Mohabbat.
ShoreTel offers remote workers in-office amenities
Ferrier Hodgson engaged PTS Communications to deploy the ShoreTel UC system, which included a ShoreTel E1 voice switch, which interfaces over an ISDN network to its service provider Primus, and two ShoreTel 120 voice switches that are capable of supporting up to 240 IP telephones. ShoreTel 560 and 230 handsets were also rolled out to 105 users at the company’s new offices.
“One of the primary reasons to move to VoIP was the ability to roll out the solution across several sites and have the capability to establish phone connections for staff when they were working offsite,” comments Mohabbat.
As a provider of corporate recovery, advisory, and forensic services, Ferrier Hodgson employs a fleet of “roaming” staff who often work with clients externally. “If for any reason our staff needs to establish a site elsewhere, the system allows them to create a connection back to the head office here and have their own phone extension up and running within seconds,” adds Mohabbat.
“Employees can answer and transfer calls as if they were at their desks,” says Mohabbat. “This compelling feature is something we can add whenever it’s required. We can set users up at different sites and use VPN links that are already in place. All of a sudden, call costs between offices become free, and calls interstate are only the cost of a local call because we use least-cost routing. In the future, the cost of calls will be far cheaper.”
Ferrier Hodgson also saved on cabling costs by moving to IP telephony. Instead of having extra cables for voice, the company simply piggybacked onto the data network cabling, eliminating the need for extra telephone cables.
“THE MOST COMPELLING ISSUE WAS OUR NEED FOR A SYSTEM THAT OFFERED AN UPGRADE PATH FOR THE FUTURE.”
Mustafa Mohabbat, IT Manager
ShoreTel Call Manager software provides information about incoming calls and call history, and enables users to type in a call recipient’s name and make the call using a PC without ever having to touch the handset. The complete phone system can be managed using the browser-based administration interface, ShoreTel Director, from anywhere on the network.
At the server, the ShoreTel Director software enables Mohabbat to create user groups, account for every call, and capture the cost of the call, providing great visibility of all aspects of the voice infrastructure. Ferrier Hodgson purchased 108 extension licenses, 98 mailbox licenses for voicemail, and one license for the operator at reception. ShoreTel Director helps reduce maintenance costs and allows Mohabbat to manage the system entirely in-house, carrying out moves, adds, or changes quickly and easily.
Ease of Installation and Administration
The ease of administration of the ShoreTel UC system was impressive. “Deploying the ShoreTel UC system was as easy as placing handsets on desks, connecting them, doing a bit of configuration, and up it went. The hardest thing is typing people’s names into the system,” Mohabbat says jokingly. “Compared to a traditional PABX, implementation was a cinch.”
For Mohabbat’s IT staff, the system’s ease of management has helped reduce time spent on system administration. “The administration side of the system is easy. The software was rolled out to client sites with minimal effort. We configured it centrally using a Web interface. In addition, all the phones can now be controlled centrally and we have an upgrade path should we need to expand into other offices,” he says.
Return on Investment (ROI)
In addition, the company has already seen a return on investment. “Productivity has increased as you can specify what you want to do with all of your calls. Users can change their preferences – ringtones, routing of messages etc.– to wherever they are located,” Mohabbat says. “Users can be added or deleted by us internally and with a minimum of fuss.”
Expansion of the ShoreTel UC system on the horizon
Mohabbat is already considering rolling out the ShoreTel UC system throughout Ferrier Hodgson’s offices across Australia, and potentially into Asia. The company has offices in China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, and Singapore.
“As PABX systems at our offices across the world come out of lease and there is a business case for it, then ShoreTel will be explored further to replace those systems as well,” concludes Mohabbat.
“AS PABX SYSTEMS AT OUR OFFICES ACROSS THE WORLD COME OUT OF LEASE AND THERE IS A BUSINESS CASE FOR IT, THEN SHORETEL WILL BE EXPLORED FURTHER TO REPLACE THOSE SYSTEMS AS WELL.”
Managing its analog phone systems and multiple carriers was a challenge. A new, standardized phone system would make centralizing processes achievable, but dedicating a large upfront investment in new equipment was financially impossible.
ShoreTel Sky, a hosted VoIP platform, enabled the organization to obtain modern, standardized telephony technology for all company branches and home office employees without a large capital expense.
- Reporting metrics and tracking tools
- Improved responsiveness
- Considerable cost savings
- Minimal time needed for management