Case Study – Eastern Oregon University

For students and staff, the only constant is change

As a place of education for individuals of all ages, most view college campuses as buzzing grounds of new ideas and learning. Each campus has its landmarks students, alumni, and community often refer to – a state of the art business center, its football stadium, its very large library full of general use computing and print resources, its principles and campus culture. Beyond the staff on these university campuses, very few outside are aware of the challenges and considerations enabling the institution to function effectively.

Eastern Oregon University, one of the state’s seven public universities in La Grande, employs more than 100 full-time faculty and staff and enjoys welcoming nearly 4000 new and returning students each semester. Though smaller in comparison to Oregon State, whose Agriculture and Natural Resource Program operates at EOU as an extensions campus, and University of Oregon; EOU strives to instill a sense of responsibility and conscious deliberation as they study and enter the diverse, ever-changing interconnected world of today.

Eastern Oregon University’s Situation

In remaining true to its educational goals, EOU also seeks to adapt its own operations to modern alternatives that allow the university to do more and better while being mindful of changes and opportunities whose adoption could return considerable benefits. One such aspect of operation for consideration was its communication system, which until a few years ago had been operating on a PBX system and had shifted to Jive, a NocTel competitor, for a hosted VoIP solution. As with any established medium-large organization, EOU set forth the expectation a modern alternative to the current PBX communication system needed to be reliable, feature rich, and the transition path must not be cumbersome or require additional technical staff to maintain and operate.

Thanks to EOU’s future forward mindset, the concern of how much time and effort would be required by all staff to acclimate to a new communication system manifested as a valid, real concern.  As a place of learning and bringing the future closer to today, EOU understood there are associated risks with adopting fairly new technology which has not withstood being put through its paces in practical usage or existed long enough for wide enough adoption to occur. Service with Jive was an improvement over the PBX system, but was there another option that could improve over Jive?

NocTel’s Solution for Eastern Oregon University

Weighing the options, EOU opted to work with NocTel in procuring and deploying a number of demonstration devices on campus to assess before subscribing, which is an option NocTel offers most interested organizations. After an initial integration of the demo NocTel system, EOU found the feature set and NocTel’s openness to feedback and dialogue with customers to gain insight to future features to be the option of choice. Contacting NocTel was simple for all inquiries ranging from support requests to feedback to documentation. The ease of dialog characterized the relationship more closely to partners than customer and service provider.

While not a prominent requirement for EOU, NocTel was able to provide a lowest pre-negotiated rate through its award of an OETC contract. OETC or Organization for Educational Technology and Curriculum being a non-profit predominantly in the pacific northwest working to simplify and make essential education technologies and services accessible and affordable for its members. By being a member of OETC, EOU and NocTel did not need to work through the process of bidding for service and focused more intently on the planning of effort to scope and transition of service. A clear course of action to transition from Jive, which has its own ecosystem for its hosted VoIP solution, to NocTel was developed with the joint efforts of NocTel and EOU technical staff. When the transition of more than 500 extensions and 1000 numbers occurred, the majority were successfully transitioned in less than an hour. With careful planning and assistance in the transition process unique to EOU’s situation, the anxiety of what could occur during transition was allayed and EOU staff were customizing and using their new hosted VoIP system soon thereafter.

Eastern Oregon’s Results and Thoughts

According to Chuck Kennicott, System Administrator at EOU, the transition was described as “one of the smoothest projects we’ve had, especially considering the size and complexity of the project. NocTel helped us with planning, project management, and provided on-site staff the during the transition period.” Even though EOU had seen improvements in transitioning away from a PBX system to Jive’s hosted VoIP solution, the university quickly saw benefits in the transition from Jive to NocTel including cost savings for service, staff training resources and effort, and the peace of mind knowing future system features will always be available at no additional cost.

Transitioning service was one of the smoothest projects we’ve had, especially considering the size and complexity of the project. NocTel helped us with planning, project management, and provided onsite staff the during the transition period.Chuck Kennicott, System Administrator at EOU

For EOU, the ability to allow its staff to configure and manage their handsets from a web-browser also transitioned general staff away from simply being users of a system with presets and toward the today of personalization and flexibility found in most services, systems, and devices used on a daily basis. Supplemented with onsite training, 24×7 support by NocTel staff, and its frequently updated online knowledge; EOU staff in general were able to become proficient with a newer technology that keeps roots in basic landline-based telephony systems but offering new functionality allowing handsets to do and be more than a desk fixture with tightly defined use. IT staff at EOU also welcomed the ability for individual staff to configure their handsets as System Administrator Chuck Kennicott remarks, “We’ve been able to train all of our support staff on how to manage various aspects of the phone system themselves instead of relying on busy IT staff. All of this frees up our administrators to manage other projects and provides more efficient support.”

As a public educational institution, EOU’s budget ebbs with available funding. The cost savings on service made possible through EOU being a member of OETC and NocTel being awarded a contract by OETC thrilled even though it was not a prominent requirement by EOU for service. NocTel was able to continue reducing the cost to EOU by not having licensing or maintenance fees that would generally be expected of a service provider. Additionally, through NocTel’s pricing on a per device usage model, handsets were able to be deployed at no additional associated cost to underserved areas of the university. These aspects and difference in belief of how much is a fair price for service have amounted to considerable savings for EOU – over 50% of their previous costs, which can be redirected to other important resources or projects to further improve the university and quality of education it in turn provides its students.

In being a good service provider, partner, and community member; NocTel is pleased at being able to help our education institutions do more and better without costing more to its students and community.

NocTel Communications is a hosted VoIP provider dedicated to solving the many communication problems that organizations face today. As a leader in pricing and feature flexibility, NocTel's goal is to help organizations do much more for less. Whether your organization is small or a globally distributed enterprise, NocTel is ready to work side-by-side with you to develop your hosted VoIP solution.