MBAJ Case Study
ShoreTel designs a VoIP blueprint for architecture firm MBAJ
Antiquated system lacking modern features
MBAJ had an old Omega PBX that had outlasted its predicted life cycle. The PBX’s age made service calls increasingly difficult, and it lacked voicemail and other features.
A system that doesn’t require a wholesale equipment change
Rusty Morgan, network administrator for MBAJ, and his team support the voice and data needs of about 50 MBAJ users. These are mostly architects who require the immediacy that VoIP delivers, whether to check permit issues and zoning guidelines, to the slightest design change that affects window placement, paint color, or plumbing lines.
MBAJ opts for ShoreTel and VoIP
MBAJ knew an upgrade to ShoreTel would lead to major benefits for the company. The company looked at a couple of VoIP options. Among the ShoreTel competitors MBAJ considered was Cisco Systems.
While Cisco’s VoIP technology looked complete, it wasn’t cheap. Case in point: New VoIP telephone handsets would have been required with the Cisco approach, and that can get costly when you have 50 (or more) users to upgrade.
Luckily, that’s not the sort of wholesale change that comes with ShoreTel VoIP implementations. “There is no need to buy expensive IP phones, because any standard phone will work with ShoreTel,” Morgan says.
ShoreTel gave MBAJ the flexibility to transition to VoIP at its own pace. MBAJ wasn’t forced to rip out all of its wiring or throw out its current handsets. With features such as tandem trunking and coordinated dialing, MBAJ was able to migrate to IP telephony in stages, leveraging its existing investment and investing capital expenditures as needed.
ShoreTel brings MBAJ into the future
MBAJ expected ShoreTel and VoIP to improve business on multiple fronts. Long-distance calls and private lines at MBAJ were expensive. MBAJ’s antiquated PBX lacked features that users have come to expect as standard. And customers were experiencing wait times when trying to contact MBAJ employees. By embracing the packetized voice revolution and introducing the ShoreTel VoIP system, MBAJ gained a boost in productivity, an increase in cost savings, and greater customer satisfaction.
The ShoreTel voice system integrates with standard desktop features that deliver a new set of communication capabilities to MBAJ employees. They can listen to their voicemail, for example, through their Microsoft Outlook email application. As Morgan explains, a user clicks on a tape recorder icon to play any incoming messages. They can also click-to-call by scrolling through a list of company names or typing the first few letters of a name to quickly locate a contact.
ShoreTel Communicator saves employees time by identifying callers automatically with an Outlook screen pop. “We can identify callers as clients or solicitors, which makes our employees more productive, because they don’t get tied up in sales calls,” says Morgan.
With ShoreTel Communicator features, MBAJ has raised its level of customer service. For the first time, MBAJ employees had voicemail, call forwarding, and six-way conference calling. With automatic call forwarding, MBAJ employees can transfer calls to their cell phones when they are working off-site. “The ability to forward a phone call to a cell phone means the client can reach the architect much more easily,” Morgan says.
The ShoreTel VoIP system upgraded MBAJ from three-way conference calling to six-way conference calling. Conference calls become even more productive because participants can share files such as building plans, licenses, and budget projections. “Now we can get everyone you need on a call to discuss any construction issue,” says Morgan.
“WE CAN IDENTIFY CALLERS AS CLIENTS OR SOLICITORS, WHICH MAKES OUR EMPLOYEES MORE PRODUCTIVE, BECAUSE THEY DON’T GET TIED UP IN SALES CALLS.”
Rusty Morgan, Network Administrator
ShoreTel is a blueprint for savings
MBAJ has realized cost savings across a number of line items. “Six-way conferencing allows us to do most, if not all, of our conference calling in-house,” Morgan says. “This should save us some money compared to using a third-party conferencing provider.”
MBAJ has experienced a 60 percent reduction in long-distance charges, due to all the inter-office calls now being routed across its private VoIP network. “Being able to make local calls to Raleigh from Charlotte and Shelby was a big cost savings,” Morgan says.
Management, Reliability, and Scalability
The centralized ShoreTel system makes managing the VoIP system much easier for Morgan and his team. Adds, deletes, and changes can be made from one interface, and changes don’t require a call to or visit from ShoreTel.
As for downtime, it’s been a non-issue. Since deploying the ShoreTel system, MBAJ voice service has been completely reliable. In the ShoreTel architecture, switches communicate with one another as peers and distribute call processing across the network. If one switch should go offline, its counterparts automatically pick up the call-processing load so services are never interrupted. That eliminates single-point failures that more traditional voice systems have trouble matching.
Morgan expects ShoreTel will continue to maintain its uptime track record, even as the company adds more employees and increases capacity demands. Adding new ports with another switch is easy due to ShoreTel’s plug-and-play nature. The ShoreTel Director automatically “discovers” the new switch and adds it to the VoIP system. “We know that when we’re ready to expand, we will have phone connectivity very quickly via the ShoreTel system,” he adds.
VoIP has been very successful for MBAJ. The firm goes to great lengths to demonstrate to its clients that it values them and their input, and the ShoreTel VoIP solutions ensure timely, efficient communication, with more flexibility and as much robustness as any voice network available.
Morgan bottom-lines it for the army of architects he supports: “Voice over IP just makes communication with clients a whole lot easier.”
“WE KNOW THAT WHEN WE’RE READY TO EXPAND, WE WILL HAVE PHONE CONNECTIVITY VERY QUICKLY VIA THE SHORETEL SYSTEM.”
Architecture firm MBAJ had offices scattered across North Carolina and many highly mobile employees. Needing immediate answers to questions ranging from permit issues to paint color, MBAJ decided to turn to VoIP.
A ShoreTel IP telephony system provided MBAJ with the needed distributed flexibility and an easytouse system. The ShoreTel system was deployed across three locations handling more than 50 users..
- 60 percent reduction in longdistance charges
- Increased customer satisfaction
- Improved productivity
- Ability to leverage existing investments