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Multi-site Credit Union Simplifies with SIP-based IP PBX

October 2006, Volume 9/ Number 10


Dupaco Community Credit Union was state chartered in 1948 to initially serve the employees of the Dubuque Packing Company. Since then, Dupaco has become a full-service credit union serving a 21-county area. The credit union is headquartered in Dubuque, IA and has six branch offices. Together, Dupaco employs approximately 155 people.

The Challenge

By mid-2001, Dupaco Community Credit Union had outgrown its legacy PBX. While the PBX had basic automatic call distribution (ACD) capabilities, the credit union’s growing number of branch offices demanded a more feature-rich call routing system — one that could also be modified quickly and easily. In addition, the PBX’s desktop management and reporting capabilities were difficult to use, so the credit union wanted a system with an intuitive, graphic-based interface for tasks like administration and supervision.

An even more important objective for finding a replacement PBX was to help bring a unified front to Dupaco’s distributed operations by consolidating its multiple phone systems from multiple vendors at branch offices into a single system that could serve all locations.

The Solution

Dupaco initially considered upgrading its existing PBX to gain functionality. After careful research, however, the credit union realized that even adding minimal new functionality could lead to an exponential increase in complexity.

"We thought that, perhaps, we could solve our problem by upgrading, but all the additional servers and associated equipment necessary would’ve led to a maintenance nightmare,” said Steve Ervolino, Dupaco’s vice president of information services and technical support.

Dupaco also looked at add-on solutions from Cisco and Avaya (News - Alert), but came to the same conclusion. At the advice of computer telephony integrator, Chicago-based Adapt Telephony Services, Dupaco reviewed a Microsoft (News - Alert)-based IP communications system from Vonexus (News - Alert) called Enterprise Interaction Center (EIC).

Instead of a loosely integrated set of applications requiring multiple servers and interfaces, EIC is built on a Windows server that uses a single interaction engine to process all types of communications — from phone calls and faxes to e-mails and Web chats.

“We chose EIC because its single-platform architecture meant fewer devices to support,” Ervolino said. “It also meant centralized administration and fewer interfaces overall.”

While Dupaco had initially considered using EIC in conjunction with its existing PBX, it quickly scrapped the idea and decided to completely replace the old system in order to further simplify management. It also made this decision to take advantage of EIC’s session initiation protocol (SIP) support, the emerging standard for Voice over IP (VoIP).

“One of the major reasons we went with an IP-based system was because we could support our branch offices over an IP LAN-to-WAN connection via a centralized corporate location instead of having a separate phone system at each office,” Ervolino said. “We were confident that SIP would take VoIP to the next level, resulting in even simpler setup and maintenance, increased interoperability, and support of enhanced applications, such as instant messaging and video conferencing.”

Dupaco completed its EIC installation in July 2003, and today uses the product for SIP-based IP switching, voice mail, fax services, unified messaging, auto attendant, workgroup routing, reporting, and recording.

EIC supports all of the credit union’s 150-plus employees, and processes approximately 1,600 incoming calls daily. The product is configured for workgroup routing based on one of four credit union departments composed of about 25 total employees. Adapt helped Dupaco configure EIC for screen pop so the Member Services workgroup could have a data processing application “popped” onto their computer screen simultaneously with an incoming call. Adapt also helped Dupaco configure EIC to include a backup queue for use during periods of heavy call volume. The configuration also allows for callers to be transparently routed from one branch to another.

The Benefits

Prior to EIC, Dupaco employees had to page people constantly due to blind transfers. EIC’s presence management has enabled employees to view co-workers’ status — it lets them know when colleagues are “In a Meeting” or “Out to Lunch” — before transferring a call. Interestingly, Dupaco found that if a caller was told before transferring the call that an employee wasn’t immediately available, they usually agreed to be put into voice mail. If, however, the caller was blindly transferred and got voice mail, they would usually “zero out” and ask, instead, to page the employee.

“EIC’s presence management has reduced pages from about 10 an hour, to less than 10 a day,” Ervolino said. “This has translated into vastly improved productivity and happier members.”

EIC’s desktop softphone, Interaction Client, also gives employees full call control with the click of a mouse, including one-number dial capabilities, which has eliminated the need for employees to memorize long numbers, and enabled customers to get routed to the right person more quickly and more accurately.

Dupaco employees have also found productivity benefits by using EIC’s unified messaging. Employees, including those who are mobile and remote, can now access and manage all message types — voice mails, faxes, e-mails and Web chats — from a single inbox on their computer, or from a phone, e-mail client, or Web browser.

“As a VP of support, it’s a great thing to be able to completely replace a company’s communications system with something so much more feature-rich and sophisticated, yet not have to add a single additional IT person to manage it,” Ervolino said. “In fact, EIC requires less than a single full-time resource to keep it up and running smoothly.”

“As a result of our EIC deployment, we can say that VoIP and SIP are not just the wave of the future, but viable technologies today that can be used to generate real-world business benefits.,” he concluded. IT

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