University of Wales Institute Cardiff boosts communications

The University of Wales Institute, Cardiff (UWIC) has installed a unified communications system which has enabled it to handle more phone calls.

After installing the system from ShoreTel, UWIC said it was able to handle more than 4,000 calls on the first day of the university clearing process in August, which its old system would not have coped with.

“The main thing with ShoreTel, as well as being cost effective, is its resilience. Because [it needs to cope with high demand] in certain times of the year, such as clearing and the advice line. We also wanted something that could scale up,” said Deryck Jones, systems and communications manager at UWIC.

The ShoreTel system was initially implemented in UWIC’s School of Management, where there are 250 phone extensions connected. The system has now been adopted by other university departments, including communications and marketing, the international office and the university’s student advice hub ‘iZone’, and around 420 extensions are on the ShoreTel system.

“We also wanted something that could scale up to the rest of the university,” said Jones, who expects the rollout to continue as budget becomes available.

As well as being resilient and scalable, Jones said that the ShoreTel’s system is so intuitive to use that if staff moving locations in the university, they can plug into it by themselves with the aid of a one-page instruction document.

“If staff moved from one place to another, we would need to go through a process of moving them [with the old system, which was supplied by Aastra] and there was a lot of admin work. With ShoreTel, they can move themselves – just plug in a network cord and log in themselves,” he said.

Staff at the university can also now be contacted more easily and directly via the system, instead of going through a secretary. Lecturers can access the ShoreTel system to retrieve messages via an iPhone or Android app on their smartphones.

“Sometimes [via a secretary] their message doesn’t get through. But [with ShoreTel] if they can’t get them on the phone, students can leave a voicemail, which the lecturers can access via their mobiles.”

Jones said that one particular incident demonstrated the ease of implementing the ShoreTel system.

The university was using a PC-based system, not from Aastra, on its helpdesk, which suddenly failed, causing a lot of problems that the supplier said could not be looked at for two or three days.

At the time, the university was running ShoreTel in evaluation mode, and when the failure occurred, it turned out to be an opportunity to put ShoreTel into service. The implementation took less than an hour, and “the whole thing was working again”, said Jones.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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