St Louis Park School District Case Study
ShoreTel steps in to help St. Louis Park School District step forward in its quest for modern telephony
Bond funds enable a telephony upgrade
Tom Marble, St. Louis Park School District director of information services, finally had his chance to update the district’s aging phone system. Knowing how infrequently he would have the opportunity, he was determined to get it right.
Web-based browser management simplifies IT’s workload
Marble visited local schools already using voice over IP (VoIP) communications to learn about their experiences before preparing an RFP. “We knew we would have to replace our old phone system with existing IT resources, so support services were especially important,” says Marble. “The RFP requested an upfront five-year agreement for support and maintenance to help ensure that the district’s phone systems never go down.”
Marble also needed a ShoreTel reseller that could also upgrade the district’s network for IP communications. Marble liked the detailed presentation from ShoreTel partner Transcend United, and the company’s in-depth understanding of the district’s requirements. ShoreTel was more affordable upfront and offered the lowest total cost of ownership over the long term.
“I liked the ease of management offered by ShoreTel Director that makes it simple to set up email, voicemail, and even mobile communications with a single Web-based browser. This makes the vast amount of moves, adds, and changes we have to do much quicker and less resourceintense than ever before,” says Marble.
Innovative use of ShoreTel features puts the district on the honor roll
Starting in May, the district replaced its network switches in preparation for ShoreTel deployment. The cutover to the ShoreTel system was completed during the third week of June, and two days later all the schools were on the new system.
“August is an incredibly busy month,” says Marble, explaining the district’s need for a highly versatile system. “The staff is off for the summer and returns then to set up for the start of school. Each year brings many changes, and we knew we had to get people trained quickly.”
Staff has been quick to take advantage of ShoreTel’s extensive feature set. “Before ShoreTel, the communications tools that our staff used at home were much more sophisticated than what they had at school,” says Marble. “Now, some people are using features such as Find-Me and reassigning their extensions when they’re away from their desks. Some people prefer to get their
voicemail via email and like the fact that ShoreTel integrates seamlessly with Microsoft Outlook.”
ShoreTel’s directory – available from both the phone and ShoreTel Communicator – combined with fourdigit dialing, makes it quick and easy to contact anyone in the school district’s seven locations. And, with the directory at everyone’s fingertips, the printed extension list has gone the way of the chalkboard.
ShoreTel has helped the district streamline communications across the board. When receptionists need to contact a person quickly, the intercom button on the ShoreTel phone automatically rings the speakerphone of the person being called. When important information must reach many people quickly, ShoreTel’s group paging feature makes it easy to reach large groups of people and the entire school.
ShoreTel also helps parents and teachers stay in touch. School board members are equally pleased by the new system, and the district is considering enhancing its 911 service through the ShoreTel System’s emergency notification application in the near future.
“WE KNEW WE WOULD HAVE TO REPLACE OUR OLD PHONE SYSTEM WITH EXISTING IT RESOURCES, SO SUPPORT SERVICES WERE ESPECIALLY IMPORTANT.”
Tom Marble, Director of Information Services
St. Louis Park School District
Flexibility to solve complex configuration equations
One of the district’s most important implementation tasks was configuring the ShoreTel system to reflect the diverse ways its 400+ staff work. Teachers in lower grades typically stay close to their classroom phone. High school teachers may move from room to room. And special education teachers are constantly on the go.
The previous system indicated waiting messages with a blinking light, but there was no way to know whom the message was for, or to pick up messages remotely. “Now people sharing an extension have access to voicemail from their laptops through both ShoreTel Communicator and ShoreTel’s Web Access Client, as well as via email,” says Marble. “This means that calls are returned much more promptly.”
Since St. Louis Park School District has many Macintosh users, using ShoreTel Communicator on a Macintosh is important to Marble. He is able to successfully run ShoreTel Communicator and ShoreTel Director on his computer under emulation with Microsoft Windows XP.
With ShoreTel, savings add up so many ways
Thanks to ShoreTel, the St. Louis Park School District is getting an outstanding return on its phone system investment. “We were thrilled to discover that over our five-year projection, ShoreTel offered $100,000 more in savings over the next most competitive solution,” says Marble. “The icing on the cake is the fact that ShoreTel switches use less power and our overall power usage has gone down since installing the ShoreTel system. The savings in time and staff are still surprising us.”
Marble and the St. Louis Park School District are pleased with their decision to deploy a ShoreTel UC system, and anticipate many other ways to realize increasing value from the versatile platform. ShoreTel’s ease of use and flexibility meet the highly varied requirements of the district’s users for shared phones, group paging, and other special requirements. And the district anticipates significant long-term cost reductions from reduced power consumption as well as increased efficiency.
“One of the biggest reasons that our ShoreTel deployment has been so successful is because of ShoreTel and Transcend’s commitment to customer satisfaction,” concludes Marble. “It’s essential to have solid technology from a proven supplier; ShoreTel has given us an excellent local reseller and has been highly responsive to our needs—both equally necessary for getting the most value from any system.”
“IT’S ESSENTIAL TO HAVE SOLID TECHNOLOGY FROM A PROVEN SUPPLIER; SHORETEL HAS GIVEN US AN EXCELLENT LOCAL RESELLER AND HAS BEEN HIGHLY RESPONSIVE TO OUR NEEDS—BOTH EQUALLY NECESSARY FOR GETTING THE MOST VALUE FROM ANY SYSTEM.”
Lacking even basic features, the outdated phone system functioned on a patchwork of upgrades, with limited support. The approval of a bond issue enabled the district to move ahead with a new-generation IP-based solution.
A ShoreTel Unified Communications UC system distributed across the district’s seven sites that included ShoreTel Voice Switches and ShoreTel IP Phones.
- Affordable and met district’s fiscal requirements
- Feature set that meets the unique educational environment
- Simplified management works well for the small IT team
- Customized call-handling and flow for different departments