Case Study – Jefferson County ESD

Making calls with NocTel since June 2016 – Communication as a service, not a budget target for Jefferson County ESD

Education faces many hurdles in today’s world and ensuring good education for its students should be chief among them, but often districts are at the mercy of budgets. As the institutions that foster generation after generation of students; parents, community, and the students themselves have expectations of quality. Everyone carries these expectations, but the degree to which each aspect can be accomplished depends on the available budget.

For Jefferson County Education Service District, a county named for Oregon’s second tallest peak which looms on its western skyline, the question of a communication system had to meet two requirements: it needed to be cost-effective such that the budget for the system would not raise eyebrows on needing to justify the expense, and it needed to provide more than the rudimentary features. In achieving these requirements, Jefferson County ESD hoped to find future budgets with more funds available to support highly needed programs and infrastructure through savings made on service expenses rather than budgetary planning potentially becoming a tug of war among stakeholders and community.

Cost-effective and usable among Jefferson ESD’s requirements were implicitly followed by the necessity that a potential communication system be flexible enough to deploy across multiple physical locations in a consistent, pain-free manner. Flexibility of the system in deployment and ease of maintenance benefit Jefferson County ESD’s technology personnel allowing those resources to be focused on other projects. For Jefferson County ESD, these requirements were almost matter of fact due to operating and maintaining two separate systems from three providers among its school districts.

IT Director David Hicks personally cites, “The multiple school districts we serve were on a combination of legacy analog and VoIP platforms. As part of reviewing the current structure of our phone services we were seeking a unified VoIP platform which would provide quality service for our districts. In recognition of the continual budgetary pressures in education, we were also looking for ways to reduce costs while not sacrificing service.” Clearly the situation and requirements were well-defined, but how well would these requirements be satisfied by a potential service provider?

NocTel’s Solution for Jefferson County ESD

Having won the OETC contract, NocTel was able to provide a lowest pre-negotiated service rate upfront with its pricing structure to immediately satisfy the cost aspect of Jefferson County ESD’s requirements. The OETC contract allowed NocTel and Jefferson County ESD to quickly proceed with service planning by eliminating a potentially lengthy bureaucratic process of service price negotiation. Additionally, with NocTel’s hosted VoIP service Jefferson County ESD did not have line items on pricing for maintenance or licensing fees. Finally, in regard to pricing, NocTel was able to provide service and hardware discounts in support of Jefferson County ESD based on its multiple service locations and volume of hardware requested.

We are meeting or exceeding the goals for this project in all areas.David Hicks, IT Director, Jefferson County ESD

In association with IT Director David Hicks, NocTel guided and educated Jefferson County ESD stakeholders on NocTel’s feature set the hosted service would provide. These topics included reassuring stakeholders that VoIP service would not fundamentally change the typical operations of the landline system the staff was accustomed to. At the same time, NocTel staff provided materials and instruction on its feature set that extended beyond core functionality to get staff and stakeholders excited about the convenience and efficiency NocTel’s service could provide. Namely, that handsets and fax machines can be managed online through the NocTel web-based Control Panel on a per user basis or a smaller group of administrators – usually IT personnel, or both.

Rather than adding NocTel as a service provider in addition to or in lieu of one of the existing systems in use at Jefferson County ESD, it was decided NocTel would replace multiple existing services, thereby consolidating the communication system to a single system by a single provider. In doing so, service for Jefferson County ESD was simplified in every important aspect: service expense through one provider, multiple locations on the same system, one point of contact for service support, and one system all staff can be trained on for consistency.

Jefferson County ESD’s Results and Thoughts

In selecting NocTel to consolidate its communication system into a single consolidated hosted service, Jefferson County ESD saw a cost reduction of roughly 50% – easily achieving the cost-effective requirement. David Hicks assesses, “The competitive pricing as well the ability to remove a number of contracts and maintenance agreements related to our legacy systems combined to create substantial savings for our district…We have also been very impressed that the anticipated savings in the initial proposal have been incredibly accurate. We are meeting or exceeding the goals for this project in all areas.”

After rolling out NocTel’s system, staff and stakeholders quickly took hold of NocTel’s web-based Control Panel which saw IT personnel configuring handsets and fax machines to their preference. Per David Hicks, personnel quickly adapted to working through the web-based Control Panel for routine tasks in administering handsets and even more complex operations such as customized call routing and auto-attendant were easily configured. The joy of this benefit was more pronounced given IT personnel would often not need to report onsite to address technical difficulties as handset status and recent changes or operations can be pulled up or requested in an audit report.

The installation process of on-boarding, often the make or break precipice, proved to be well-managed and smooth per David Hicks: “Working with NocTel to transition our systems was tremendous. The early phases of the project were efficiently managed and potential challenges were identified and options to address those challenges presented. Their staff worked closely with our team throughout the planning phases and were continually prompt and very willing to explore all avenues to meet our needs. Following the transition, NocTel has continued to be very involved with our team, continually monitoring our experience as well as addressing any questions.

Summary of Service Benefits with NocTel

For public institutions, making effective use of budget is often a matter of allocating to departments and projects that are most visible in relation to the organization. Technology budgeting is often classed in a caveat considered integral but not highly visible leaving making the case for funding varying degrees of uphill. With NocTel’s solution, Jefferson County ESD was able to achieve the following budgetary and operational benefits and improvements:

  • NocTel’s OETC contract guarantees the lowest pre-negotiated service rate for member institutions allowing service negotiations to be expedited
  • Consolidation of multiple systems by different providers into one unified system provided:
    • Consistent management of handsets and fax machine adapters across the ESD
    • Simplified remote configuration of handsets and fax machine adapters across the ESD drastically reduces time spent to dispatch technical personnel onsite
    • Reduction of associated service costs as NocTel does not apply licensing or maintenance fees
  • Educational service and hardware discounts further reduced initial financial commitment and recurring service costs
  • Overall cost savings of over 50% from the previous solution
  • Customization of user accessibility to web-based control panel to a limited scope of technicians and administrators facilitates consistent configuration

As a customer and friend of NocTel, we work to ensure the system we provide you meets all expectations and excels to help organizations of all varieties do and be better.

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.