Van Metre Companies Case Study
Luxury homebuilder makes ShoreTel the foundation of its business communications to ease management and save money
Out of capacity and extensions
Van Metre relied on an aging Toshiba PBX phone system that was at capacity. Employees found the Toshiba phones hard to use, and the phone system lacked business-critical features.
Flexibility and advanced functionality
Effective communication among Van Metre’s staff of 500 is critical because the company is known for its highly personalized service as well as innovative home design and excellent craftsmanship.
“The ability for our staff to quickly communicate with other staff members is important to our business because we’re spread over many sites,” says Mike Saunders, director of IT at The Van Metre Companies, a residential development and homebuilding business.
Van Metre considered an upgrade of its existing phone system, but that would have been prohibitively expensive. Another option was to migrate to a new IP PBX and gain the benefits of new calling features, such as extension dialing among the sites, which would make communications more efficient. An IP PBX would be easier to manage. And the company expected to reap a cost savings because its own staff could handle its own moves, adds, and changes.
Van Metre conducted a thorough evaluation of IP PBXs systems from Cisco, Avaya, Altigen, Panasonic, Toshiba, and ShoreTel. The company narrowed its choice to Altigen and ShoreTel. While Van Metre liked the easy-to-use interfaces of both solutions, it was worried about the remote survivability and overall reliability of the Altigen system. Van Metre was concerned that if servers crashed, it would lose its communications trunks at remote sites. Plus, the Altigen system ran on Windows, which raised security concerns.
Van Metre opted for the ShoreTel system. ShoreTel is a fully distributed IP phone system with no single point of failure. Call control is distributed among the voice switches, and voice applications including voicemail and automated attendant run on standard server hardware anywhere in the IP network. Plus, ShoreTel runs on VXworks, the leading embedded real-time operating system from Wind River Systems, so there are none of the security and stability issues associated with serverbased systems. With ShoreTel, an administrator can centrally monitor the status of all phone equipment in its network, a capability that Van Metre required in its upgraded system.
Building more effective communications with ShoreTel
Van Metre has deployed ShoreTel equipment at 18 of its sites. In addition, Van Metre has rolled out 300 ShoreTel IP phones, as well as analog cordless phones. Other equipment from ShoreTel included three ShoreTel T1 switches, ShoreTel Voice switches, and two voicemail servers.
Among the features of the ShoreTel IP phone system that Van Metre uses is ShoreTel Communicator, which enables easy management of the phone system. Locating employees no matter which office they’re in is simple with ShoreTel’s Find-me, Follow-me capability. Traveling employees use SoftPhone, which gives mobile computer users access to enterprise calling features from the road. Van Metre’s IT staff also uses ShoreTel Director for maintenance and support.
“THE ABILITY FOR OUR STAFF TO QUICKLY COMMUNICATE WITH OTHER STAFF MEMBERS IS IMPORTANT TO OUR BUSINESS BECAUSE WE’RE SPREAD OVER MANY SITES.”
Mike Saunders, Director of IT
Van Metre Companies
When apartment residents call in with a problem, the issue can be quickly distributed to the right people. For instance, apartment sites managed by Van Metre have a general voicemail box that can send voicemail to an email group so building maintenance issues can be more quickly resolved.
Because Van Metre employees don’t always have phone access at remote sites, they are heavy users of email notification for voicemail. With their ShoreTel phone system, they can easily see if they have voicemails using their handhelds and know the urgency of the matter.
One of the key benefits of the ShoreTel solution is centralized management, including the ability to monitor Van Metre’s complete phone system from a single location, which has made overseeing telecommunications a lot simpler for the company’s five-person IT department.
Ease of management a welcome tool
“The ease of management of the overall phone infrastructure is one thing that stands out about the ShoreTel system,” Saunders says. “Having one login and one graphical interface to view network operations is a great benefit.”
With the new IP phone system, users can quickly and easily communicate with co-workers regardless of their location. Van Metre has four-digit dialing among all sites, enabling more accurate and efficient communications. Prior to the upgrade, the company had to maintain paper phone lists that were quickly outdated. Now users just type a name and press “enter” to call someone using ShoreTel Communicator. Or they can easily dial by name on the telephone keypad.
Customers also have an easier time reaching the people they need at Van Metre because customercare operators use the ShoreTel Communicator for Operators feature to quickly get calls to the right people, whether they’re on-site or off-site.
In addition, the ShoreTel phone system helps control long-distance costs. Van Metre requires all users to use account codes for long-distance calling, so users have to enter passwords to make long-distance calls. In sites with public phones, they can assign these phones for internal use only and require account codes, which is good for security. And infrastructure costs are lower because the company has simplified wiring in its buildings. The company also expects savings from reduced systems maintenance.
“THE EASE OF MANAGEMENT OF THE OVERALL PHONE INFRASTRUCTURE IS ONE THING THAT STANDS OUT ABOUT THE SHORETEL SYSTEM. HAVING ONE LOGIN AND ONE GRAPHICAL INTERFACE TO VIEW NETWORK OPERATIONS IS A GREAT BENEFIT.”
The Van Metre Companies had an aging phone system that wasn’t easy to use and lacked modern telephony features. It was also running out of capacity and was out of phone extensions.
The building company deployed ShoreTel’s IP telephony system in multiple locations, which included 300 ShoreTel IP phones, ShoreTel T1 switches, ShoreTel Voice Switches, and
two voicemail servers.
- Cost savings on long-distance calls
- Centralized system management
- Lower infrastructure and maintenance TCO
- Improved employee communications