For some users, it's like lightning

A lightning strike disables some features on this company's phone system, so IT people from a sister company are brought in for a highly accelerated process of conversion to VoIP, reports a pilot fish who's part of the visiting team.

"The new VoIP system uses a four-digit extension, and for this transition that's simply a 3 in front of the three-digit extension on the old phone system," fish says. "That's done to make the transition easier for the users.

"After a few weeks of swapping out switches and configuring phones and other devices, the rollout begins. The end of week 1 involves training all users on the new phones and delivering the phones to their desks. We encourage them to use the phones to make outgoing calls and to communicate with other users."

Go-live is Tuesday of week 2. But just before go-live, the VoIP contractor spends a few hours testing the redundancy features of the new system. That involves bringing down the connection to the VoIP server and making sure calls to emergency services can still be completed.

And while that final testing is going on, fish takes a few minutes to check email and voicemail in her office. That's when the guy next door sticks his head in to complain that neither phone system is allowing him to make calls -- they both give him busy signals.

Fish explains that the new system is temporarily unavailable but the old system should still be working. User goes back to his desk, but a few minutes later he returns. "The old phones still don't work," he says. "I just get a busy signal when I try to dial an extension."

Fish follows him to his office and watches as he pushes the speaker button of the old phone and dials. Sure enough, there's a fast busy signal after he dials.

"I ask him what number he dialed," says fish. "He rattles off a four-digit number. I wince, then explain to him that the old phone system still uses the same extensions that it always has, and that the new phone list is only for the new phone system.

"As I finish my sentence, he asks, 'So I still only use three digits on the old phone system?' I nod. He tries to dial again. This time the extension rings.

"I guess for some people the problem might be adapting too quickly."

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