Lynden Case Study
Lynden moves to ShoreTel VoIP for a cost-effective way to deploy a single voice system throughout its shipping empire
Traditional telephony unable to deliver
This Anchorage, Alaska-based enterprise was feeling the constraints of its aging network. Traditional voice platforms could not costeffectively unify Lynden’s business under a single voice system and dialing plan.
Eliminate the telephony hodgepodge
Lynden implemented a phone system that was then quite radical, if still TDM-based: an SRX (now Teltronics) platform that could offer network-wide dialing, voicemail, and remote management across leased circuits.
Switches were purchased for eight of the company’s major offices, and an umbrella of fourdigit dialing and shared voicemail soon covered the seven offices scattered around Seattle. But the SRX in the Anchorage headquarters could not be included because a dedicated T-1 between Seattle and Anchorage was just too expensive. The remaining 60-odd Lynden offices were served by a multi-vendor stew of PBXs and key systems.
Concerned about its aging phone equipment, telecommunications manager Ed Johnson and his team were charged with identifying an IP-based solution that would meet current and future needs.
VoIP platforms from Avaya and a host of smaller vendors were considered and ultimately rejected as too expensive, too complicated, or too hard to manage. Some were clearly solutions that had been “kludged” together from a variety of sources.
Cisco had its advocates within Lynden, but they didn’t prevail. “I had been hearing stories that you needed an advanced degree in Cisco just to do moves, adds, and changes, and that was definitely not what we wanted,” states Johnson.
ShoreTel offered all the features that made the SRX platform so special in its day, but delivered them in a much more user-friendly way, and exploited the IP data infrastructure into the bargain.
ShoreTel transports Linden into the world of advanced telephony
Legacy integration can raise problems during incremental migrations, but Johnson found that it was very easy to retain the same office extensions and incorporate the new ShoreTel sites into the SRX-based four-digit dialing plan. “I just did the programming once and used a cookie-cutter approach. I didn’t have to do any revisions,” says Johnson.
“In an hour and a half, I established a presence for Alaska Marine Lines (AML) in central Alaska by simply renting a couple of phone numbers, terminating them on a couple of DID numbers, and building an auto-attendant that made it look like AML had people in both Fairbanks and Anchorage,” adds Johnson.
Productivity benefits convert the anti-technologists
Lynden’s user community, which consists primarily of truck drivers, dispatchers, and clerical workers, has taken enthusiastically to ShoreTel’s Communicator interface, although the full significance of the move was lost on them at first.
“They didn’t know they were using VoIP until I told them,” Johnson says. “Once a little training got them past the paradigm shift of seeing their phone on their computer screen, all they noticed was the wonderful new features.” Some had never had voicemail before, and seeing the messages in the same unified inbox with already familiar email helped ease the transition.
Many members of Lynden’s highly distributed workforce wear more than one hat, so the ability to belong to more than one ShoreTel workgroup comes in very handy. And easily configured autoattendant front ends can direct callers to the right person with greater accuracy, taking the load off dispatchers who used to field all incoming calls and often ended up dealing with questions they weren’t really qualified to answer.
“ONCE A LITTLE TRAINING GOT THEM PAST THE PARADIGM SHIFT OF SEEING THEIR PHONE ON THEIR COMPUTER SCREEN, ALL THEY NOTICED WAS THE WONDERFUL NEW FEATURES.”
Ed Johnson, Telecommunications Manager
ShoreTel’s capabilities also ease mobility for employees who spend time in more than one office. The salespeople in the ShoreTel-equipped offices are the envy of colleagues elsewhere, thanks to the system’s follow-me, find-me feature. They can be as available as they wish, and make sure important calls don’t get missed.
Perhaps most significant is the extent to which nontechnical employees are figuring out how to use system features to improve business processes. “Even the anti-technologist types are now doing this,” Johnson states.
The ShoreTel system is so easy to manage that Johnson can delegate responsibilities to nontechnical office workers and truck drivers at the remote ShoreTel sites. These individuals double as system administrators, handling moves, adds, changes, and other administrative tasks.
Johnson does ShoreTel system upgrades in the evening from his home over a DSL line after sending CDs in the interoffice pouches to the remote offices. “I wait until after hours and then tell the dispatchers on duty to stick the CD in the drive and go take a coffee break while I make any changes and reboot the system. That’s how I can maintain a phone system with 11 sites, half of which are in Alaska. It’s very easy management.”
ShoreTel Conference Bridge on the wish list
Convergence enthusiasts at Lynden would like to facilitate collaboration with such ShoreTel options as the conference bridge and document sharing. First, Johnson would like to create more of a single distributed system, but WAN bandwidth is still a limiting factor.
Lynden has been taking some pressure off the WAN by putting DSL links in a lot of the smaller offices so they have direct Internet access. Their web traffic no longer has to go through the main Seattle office via the WAN, freeing up bandwidth that may ultimately be used by the ShoreTel voice network. When Johnson bought his first ShoreTel system, it was with the knowledge that the platform could do far more than was currently being asked of it.
“I was buying time, because it would take awhile for me to replace the systems one by one, and for the users to get familiar with the ShoreTel Communicator interface. And while this went on, the cost of bandwidth would come down, and we could start doing more over the WAN instead of dialing around it. And that’s pretty much what’s happening,” concludes Johnson.
“I WAS BUYING TIME, BECAUSE IT WOULD TAKE AWHILE FOR ME TO REPLACE THE SYSTEMS ONE BY ONE, AND FOR THE USERS TO GET FAMILIAR WITH THE SHORETEL COMMUNICATOR INTERFACE. AND WHILE THIS WENT ON, THE COST OF BANDWIDTH WOULD COME DOWN, AND WE COULD START DOING MORE OVER THE WAN INSTEAD OF DIALING AROUND IT. AND THAT’S PRETTY MUCH WHAT’S HAPPENING.”
- The transportation company needed to identify an IP-based solution that would meet current and future needs.
- ShoreTel provided a VoIP solution that included ShoreTel Voice Switches, T-1 gateways, and ShoreTel Communicator.
- Scalability for future growth
- Legacy integration
- Remote management
- Network-wide call routing