Coleg Glan Hafren College Case Study
College replaces its managed voice service with Mitel IP to increase efficiency, reduce costs, and improve the caller experience
Aging, inflexible, difficult-tomanage system
The college had an aging voice network of 240 desk phones and Siemens Realitis switches at three campus sites. But the Design Academy was a separate entity with its own BT lines.
Single, reliable, centrally managed solution
Coleg Glan Hafren is Cardiff’s largest further-education college. It delivers 800 courses to 13,000 students from its main Trowbridge campus and three further sites around the city, including a plush hair-and-beauty salon called the Design Academy.
“Previous to the Mitel deployment, routing calls from Trowbridge to the correct person was tricky,” says Gareth Burton, IT manager at Coleg Glan Hafren. “Up to 18 staff members could be sharing one telephone number, and since most teachers are generally unavailable by phone for the majority of the day, voicemails were often lost.”
Another headache was the cost of implementing moves, adds, and changes. “Our voice system was provided as a completely managed service via NTL and Siemens, so the IT department didn’t have much to do with it,” explains Burton. “Anytime we needed to set up, cancel, or reset voicemail, or move somebody around, our managed service provider would charge for sending an engineer – even for a quick job.”
The inflexibility of its voice system was exacerbated as the college continued to expand, so the decision was taken to deploy an IP Unified Communications (UC) system.
Burton and his team investigated and drew up a specification for a distributed and scalable system that could serve a large user base of mobile workers and offer integration with Microsoft Outlook® for voicemail notification. Further key requirements included a fully customizable auto attendant with the ability to record bilingual prompts, hunt group-style overflow for incoming calls to main receptions and departmental numbers, call center and softphone capabilities, as well as call logging and reporting.
Nine local resellers were short-listed for six product solutions – Alcatel, Avaya, Cisco, Mitel, Mitel, and Siemens. Mitel and its reseller partner were clear winners. “Although not the lowest quote initially,” says Burton, “Mitel was the only price that remained consistent once we had mapped out the full system requirements.”
Mitel makes the grade
The new solution comprised Mitel voice switches. These voice switches plug into the LAN via Ethernet, support both IP and analogue phones, and are deployed in an N+1 architecture, so that if a switch fails or is isolated by a network fault, the phones automatically failover to another voice switch at the site. The college also opted for Mitel IP telephones. These phones are configured automatically when added to the network.
The Mitel IP UC system was deployed within a week and a half, and configured for 600 users and 250 Mitel IP Phones. This has since been expanded to include the Design Academy, and a further 40 IP handsets.
Mitel passes the management test
This new distributed architecture has enabled the college to replace its multiple PBXs with a single centrally managed system. “Using Mitel’s browser-based Mitel Director, the system is extremely easy to manage – probably the easiest of all the products we looked at,” states Burton.
“We can add new users and locations, configure voicemail and essentially do all the things that were done previously by an external engineer,” Burton says. And on the odd occasion when there has been an issue, Burton says the response times have been fantastic. “When a potential fault is detected, system warning messages are automatically routed to our Mitel reseller, often before anyone at the college notices.”
The Mitel system’s integrated features such as voicemail, automated attendant, and automatic call distribution have enabled the college to realize substantial cost savings and productivity gains. “With the Mitel system, our call handling has improved 100%. Auto attendant deals with the majority of incoming traffic, allowing callers to select an extension, dial by name, or by department,” says Burton.
“PREVIOUS TO THE SHORETEL DEPLOYMENT, ROUTING CALLS FROM TROWBRIDGE TO THE CORRECT PERSON WAS TRICKY. UP TO 18 STAFF MEMBERS COULD BE SHARING ONE TELEPHONE NUMBER, AND SINCE MOST TEACHERS ARE GENERALLY UNAVAILABLE BY PHONE FOR THE MAJORITY OF THE DAY, VOICEMAILS WERE OFTEN LOST.”
Gareth Burton, IT Manager
Coleg Glan Hafren
Features such as hunt groups and automatic forwarding to mobile numbers ensure that staff can be contacted when needed – allowing the college to use its reception staff more efficiently. Burton says, “During our student enrollment period, a mini call center workgroup was set up, enabling us to handle some 30,000 calls over a month and a half. Previously, we had to employ temps or pull our staff away from other duties.”
Flexibility has been another big plus. With the Mitel IP UC system, any staff member can login to a phone using his or her personal extension to make a call or access voicemail. And with Mitel Personal Call Manager, which can be integrated with Microsoft Outlook, voicemail notifications are delivered direct to the user’s inbox.
Furthermore, the college has incorporated the Mitel system directory into its desktop Web application, enabling users to search for contacts and dial direct from their PCs.
Mitel inspires innovative solutions
The Mitel system has also led to some unexpected benefits. The college uses a swipe-card access control system for its car parks, and by plugging the internal modems directly into its IP network, found that it can operate the car park barriers remotely by dialing them, as well as running the intercom over the network.
Even the fashion-conscious of Cardiff are benefiting. With the Design Academy now linked in, customers can call the college directly to book their appointments and avoid any bad-hair days that might result from an unanswered call or erroneous voicemail.
“WITH THE SHORETEL SYSTEM, OUR CALL HANDLING HAS IMPROVED 100%. AUTO ATTENDANT DEALS WITH THE MAJORITY OF INCOMING TRAFFIC, ALLOWING CALLERS TO SELECT AN EXTENSION, DIAL BY NAME, OR BY DEPARTMENT.”
With four college sites and 600 staff served by an aging and inflexible managed voice system, communications were becoming strained. As the college expanded, moves, adds, and changes were costly; routing calls to the right extension was difficult; and voicemails were lost.
The college deployed Mitel Voice Switches and Mitel IP telephones to consolidate its four sites under a single, reliable, and centrally managed voice network.
- Significant cost savings and efficiency gains
- Greatly improved call handling
- Integration with Microsoft Outlook
- Direct dial from PCs