Non-Profit Organization Simplifies Its Communications with ShoreTel

Getting Vertical

Non-Profit Organization Simplifies Its Communications with ShoreTel

By Paula Bernier, Executive Editor, IP Communications Magazines  |  January 01, 2011

This article originally appeared in the January 2011 issue of INTERNET TELEPHONY Magazine.

Communications solutions are supposed to be about making out lives simpler. But in many cases they can be the source of complexity and management headaches. At one point not too long ago, that was the situation at The Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society – but no longer.

Rustan Williams, vice president and CIO of The Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society, says the charitable, non-profit long-term care organization – which provides more than 243 locations and 20,000 residents in 24 states with a variety of assistance including skilled nursing, assisted living, senior housing and home health – used to have a legacy telecommunications platform. But the telephone sets were not user friendly, and staff had a hard time transferring calls. Remote moves, adds and changes were slow due to modem download speeds. There was an inability to monitor users, stations, trunks, etc. The legacy platform also lacked interoperability – there was no five-digital dialing between locations, no toll bypass, and no global directory. And VoIP and UC were very difficult.

After testing a newer solution, The Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society found that it was too complex to install and maintain, and it would’ve required the addition of personnel to support. So it dropped that idea.

Then The Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society took a look at ShoreTel (News - Alert), which Williams says came into consideration later in the process. Williams indicated he pretty much had his mind made up that the other remaining contender would get the business, but after one of his people was able to install the ShoreTel system easily using just the directions in the box in which it came, he started to pay attention.

Today, the organization is a satisfied user of the ShoreTel solution.

Williams says the company’s telephones are user friendly and intuitive to use. The system is easier to administer for the entire enterprise using a single web-based browser application. The licensing model is simple to understand. It allows center locations to administer their music on hold in the same manner as in the past. And it’s easy to establish video calls in a point-to-point fashion for locations with adequate WAN bandwidth.

Kevin Gavin (News - Alert), vice president of marketing at ShoreTel, says helping customers get the features and functions they need while keeping it simple is a key goal at ShoreTel. He adds that recent research shows that $6 trillion worldwide is wasted each year due to IT complexity, so complexity is not just an IT problem, it’s a social issue.

There are two common paths to complexity, says Gavin. One happens when companies modify their legacy technology over time to address customer needs, but in the process pile on the complexity. The second path involves vendors that bolt together different solutions that they acquire along the way, which results in a mish mash of different code bases, user interfaces, and the like.

A perverse paradox of the issue is that the very vendors that create this complexity also benefit from it through vendor lock in, and the ability to generate new fees for stuff like additional customer support and training, says Gavin. Meanwhile, businesses buying their solutions suffer with gear that is expensive to install and maintain, and difficult to scale.

“It’s time to put an end to this complexity,” Gavin says. “It’s time to kick complexity to the curb.”

When complexity goes away, he notes, businesses can focus on their businesses while their total cost of ownership drops significantly.

That’s why ShoreTel is all about simplicity. And because it didn’t have legacy to bring forward, Gavin adds, ShoreTel doesn’t deliver kludged together solutions. Gavin challenges other vendors in the communications arena to make their solutions easier to deploy and easier to manage as well, and he urges buyers to demand simple and elegant solutions.

This case study was discussed at the last ITEXPO event. TMC (News - Alert) and INTERNET TELEPHONY welcome you to join us at the next ITEXPO, which will take place Feb. 2-4 at the Miami Beach Convention Center in Miami. For more information, visit

Edited by Stefania Viscusi


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