Case Study – Grant County ESD

Making calls with NocTel since April 2017 – Managing and maintaining the organization’s communications shouldn’t be harder than saying “hello”

Justifying the reasons to move away from self-implemented solution is often difficult for organizations even if the reality indicates the system is no longer effective or valuable relative to the cost of maintenance and performance. For some organizations, considering moving platforms or solutions can feel like going back to handing vendors or providers money rather than saving money with an implemented in-house system. While this mindset isn’t necessarily wrong, it ignores the reality that a high maintenance system also incurs costs. These cost often take the form of staff time efforts not being spent on high priority or new projects. Or system downtime and drops in performance cost other staff and the organization as a whole operating efficiency. So while an implemented self-hosted solution may give the appearance of money staying in the organization, when it becomes maintenance intensive it bleeds resources in ways not strictly measured in dollars. As a final risk, aging legacy implementations are often not well maintained or have additional features implemented over time making them prone to being serviceable by a limited number of technical staff, which carries the associated risk of becoming a fragile monolithic system should those individuals leave the organization.

Grant County ESD’s Situation

For Grant County ESD, self-managing a Cisco Unified Call Manager system for over 10 years had become labor and cost intensive. The ESD was providing educational services, support, and resources to five school districts in Grant County, Oregon, spanning a 4500 square mile area as well as local county government offices. The expectation of the communication system being reliable and effective had reached a breaking point. Grant County ESD had decided the current system was unsustainable and began considering alternatives. NocTel was considered and met with and consult the Grant County ESD. NocTel outlined a cost-effective solution that ensure reliability, scalability, a robust feature set, and simple management by technical staff.

NocTel’s Solution for Grant County ESD

NocTel came to the Grant County ESD experienced in consulting and designing solutions for education customers. The Grant County ESD  was unique to the  education environment as the technology team was also providing support and services for county government offices. NocTel’s solution’s primary points consisted of:

  • Minimize thrash and disruption in transition of service logistics and execution.
  • Design and develop unique call flows for each organizational entity served by the Grant County ESD per individual needs.
  • Provide instructor led training after deployment to all users and address their questions and concerns.
  • Identify unique needs and requirements for each organization.
  • Assist as much as necessary or requested in the adaptation and configuration of  the network to facilitate the above.

Per these key points of the solution, NocTel engineers assisted the Grant County ESD Technology in the implementation of auto attendant menus for the various departments. This included the ESD and Grant County Court House (Offices of Assessor, District Attorney, Clerk, Justice of the Peace, and Treasurer). NocTel’s on-boarding engineers reduced stress and thrash in porting the ESD’s numbers from their legacy provider, whom often denied requests to port for obscure reasons frequently delaying the process. During these delays, temporary numbers and forwarding were configured to prevent disruption to service while in transition.

NocTel was relentless in programming and problem-solving issues that popped up as we deployed phones…We would recommend these guys to any and all organizations!Robert Waltenburg, Director of Technology, Grant County ESD

Throughout the process of design to deployment, NocTel engineers were meticulous in assisting Grant County ESD stakeholders in identifying features that would see high usage and providing guidance on features that would meet requirements or additional conveniences for departments through the ESD. As each milestone to transition and deployment were met, NocTel engineers ensured each piece of the solution was satisfactory to guarantee deployment would be a collective sigh of relief for Grant County ESD and its users. These efforts also included direct assistance in the configuration and updating of network hardware necessary to ensure compatibility and smooth operation.

Grant County ESD’s Results and Thoughts

While Grant County ESD had similar apprehensions other organizations hold in regard to abandoning a self-hosted and implemented legacy system as Director of Technology Robert Waltenburg comments, “[The old system] was cumbersome, labor intensive, and expensive. Having built and maintained our own system for the past 13 years, we were hesitant to switch to a hosted platform. We can unequivocally say that it was the best technology decision that we have ever made.”

The old system was cumbersome, labor intensive, and expensive. Having built and maintained our own system for the past 13 years, we were hesitant to switch to a hosted platform. We can unequivocally say that it was the best technology decision that we have ever made.Robert Waltenburg, Director of Technology, Grant County ESD

As a learning experience for NocTel with government entities, value was provided to the District Attorney’s office through reliable Caller ID and the ability to see call history in the web-based control panel. According to Robert Waltenburg, “For years we couldn’t have Caller ID inbound or out. Our probation department calls many parolees every day – they would not answer the call because the identification came up as ‘Unknown Name – Unknown Number.’” The provision of reliable Caller ID has improved the success rate of reaching parolees by their probation officers by allowing Caller ID to identify the calling number to avoid no answers due to not knowing who is calling.

In response to the overall process of consulting, designing, deploying, and supporting, Robert Waltenburg states, “NocTel was relentless in programming and problem-solving issues that popped up as we deployed phones. They also worked with all of our various departments, answering questions and providing training on the new system. We would recommend these guys to any and all organizations!”

Summary of Service Benefits with NocTel

The search for cost savings on core operational necessities is often viewed as a prime way to make an organization more independent and efficient, but change over time is often the measure through which actual savings are taken. Though transitioning service from a self-hosted and implemented communication system to NocTel’s hosted service was driven by a need to replace an aging and inefficient system, Grant County ESD has experienced the following benefits and improvements:

  • Cost-effective voice service and support through competitive service rate and simple, straightforward billing structure
  • Web-based control panel allows remote configuration and management of handsets in physically disparate locations
  • Voicemail to email functionality allows probation officers to be notified of and listen to voicemail left by parolees when away from the phone
  • Comprehensive assistance in porting and service transition process by NocTel engineers
  • Maintenance of system handled by NocTel, only basic configuration and management for operations handled by technical staff and administrators
  • Established and growing feature set expands the capabilities of departments by eliminating or improving efficiency of both standard and specific tasks operating handsets

Regardless of where customers are coming from with their communications system today, NocTel is always eager to dedicate as much time as necessary to understand your challenges, requirements, and anxieties; and work together with you to ensure your solution is easy and reliable to use while providing value you didn’t foresee!

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.