January 2009 | Volume 12/ Number 1
TeleTracking Technologies: Using IP Communications to Manage Growth, Increase Efficiency and Reduce Costs
As almost any entrepreneur can attest, running a service-oriented business requires a unique blend of savvy, flexibility and fortitude to coordinate sales activities, keep a handle on operations, respond to customer needs and control costs.
And when a business operates from multiple sites, or relies on the services of mobile professionals and remote workers, managing the business can become a cumbersome and complicated process punctuated by high travel expenses, skyrocketing long distance and mobile communications costs, and the difficulty in ensuring that remote-based and mobile associates remain productive and effective while on-the-go.
Managing a remote business was a particular dilemma for TeleTracking Technologies, a leading provider of patient flow software solutions for the health care industry. Headquartered in Pittsburgh, TeleTracking’s solutions are utilized by some 700 health care facilities worldwide, all of which rely on the company’s offerings to help optimize bed turnover, patient placement and transport management processes. Managing patient flow has become a critical challenge for hospitals. According to recent industry studies, the average 300-bed hospital can generate an additional $10 million just by turning over a hospital bed an additional 12 times per year. TeleTracking’s solutions enable its customers to capture this added revenue, while ensuring that patients’ needs are met through the efficient allocation and management of bedding inventory.
“We are a true global business in every sense of the word,” explains Blair Freer, vice president of technical support for TeleTracking. “Not only do we serve customers worldwide, but we maintain sales and support resources throughout North America and in Europe. In the past, our remote employees relied on traditional means to communicate, such as long-distance trunks, mobile phones and a very pricey subscription-based conferencing solution. As we became busier, we noticed that our expenditures were growing out of control. We needed to find a solution that was scalable and robust, but was better suited to supporting our business requirements.”
As part of its process to replace its existing communications platform, TeleTracking met with a number of equipment vendors and partners to see how it could best leverage emerging communications technology in order to improve business performance. Among those they talked with was Prime Communications, a Pittsburgh-based Mitel (News - Alert) partner proficient in IP-powered applications, including unified communications and collaborations, as well as IP telephony.
According to Dan Carmody, Prime Communications’ vice president, it was apparent early in their discussions with TeleTracking that the new communications platform needed to address a number of key business issues.
“One of the biggest concerns for TeleTracking was scalability,” recalls Carmody. “The company has experienced exponential growth over the past three years, where it now boasts some 130 employees spread throughout the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. Its previous system, a popular VoIP solution that is positioned as a powerful solution for the small- and mid-size market, required too much programming and administrative time in order to scale up efficiently. We knew that our Mitel products would be much more efficient and user-friendly from this standpoint alone.”
Another primary area where TeleTracking needed help was in its internal operations, particularly in terms of communications between remote employees, mobile professionals and its headquarters in Pittsburgh. Maintaining seamless communications among its staff was an inefficient, inconsistent — and expensive — process. “From a managerial standpoint, our staff found it difficult and frustrating to reach the appropriate individual promptly if they needed a customer issue resolved, or required information for a proposal or technical training question,” explains Freer. “Many times, we could not locate the right internal associate at the right time, which only escalated the frustration.
“In addition,” Freer continues, “while our system at that time was also a VoIP solution, its inability to support intuitive conferencing, presence management and collaboration tools forced us to rely heavily on a very expensive subscription-based conferencing service in order for our sales team, management and operations professionals to communicate. As a result of these inefficiencies, our monthly conferencing costs skyrocketed to about $8,000 per month. Certainly, we knew that the right IP solution should drive our costs down, and that’s when we knew it was time to make a change.”
After evaluating TeleTracking’s current business processes and discussing how the company envisioned its future, Prime Communications recommended a solution that featured a flexible IP communications system coupled with powerful, embedded conferencing and collaboration tools that would increase productivity — and reduce expenses.
Scalable IP Communications
The centerpiece is the Mitel 5000, an IP solution that scales up to 250 users per location. The Mitel 5000 delivers robust voice communications over the data infrastructure, plus supports digital and analog voice traffic, allowing TeleTracking to leverage its legacy infrastructure where it makes business sense.
“From an ease-of-use perspective, we find the Mitel 5000 to be incredibly intuitive and user-friendly,” reports Freer. “We can easily add and change extensions on our own, without the assistance of a technician, which is a huge cost savings.
“In addition to its simplified administrative features, the Mitel 5000 platform can be easily expanded as our business needs change. This is a welcome departure compared to our previous system, which boxed us in, in terms of adding users to our network and integrating emerging features and applications into the system.”
Conferencing & Collaboration
The potential of using advanced applications to improve business performance was a major factor in TeleTracking’s decision to work with Prime Communications and Mitel. With its subscription-based conferencing solution approaching $8,000 per month, and an over-reliance on expensive cell phones for communicating with workers out in the field, TeleTracking needed to find remote communications applications that could drive costs down but bring productivity up.
Mitel’s Audio and Web Conferencing (AWC) proved to be the perfect solution. Integrated directly into the Mitel 5000 communications platform, AWC delivers a variety of unified communications and collaboration features to discerning businesses that rely on mobile employees and geographically disparate offices. Through AWC, users can launch and participate in voice and Web conferences with colleagues, customers and suppliers from any location with an Internet connection.
“By integrating Audio and Web Conferencing into our network, we’ve virtually eliminated the need for our subscription conferencing service,” explains Freer. “The savings from that alone approaches some $100,000 per year. On top of that, we have the comfort of using a solution that will grow alongside our business. As we say, flexibility to us is paramount, and that goes for applications in addition to infrastructure. Mitel’s technology gives us a comfort level that other vendors do not.”
More than Technology
While TeleTracking enjoys various business benefits through Mitel’s products and applications, having access to Mitel’s product management and engineering teams has been instrumental in its ability to successfully leverage these tools.
“Our partners at both Mitel and Prime Communications are sincerely interested in our experiences and take very seriously our feedback and suggestions,” says Freer. “We did not enjoy this level of cooperation with our previous vendor. It just reinforces the importance Mitel places on understanding the needs of its customers, and its willingness to go the extra mile to deliver a solution that will meet our business objectives today and tomorrow.” IT
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