Crosstalk with Select Telecom (Summer 2014)

With an 8-building campus supporting 890 students, faculty, and staff, Rye Country Day School’s communication systems can’t afford to be anything less than best-in-class.  But until recently, the school was making due with a decade-old system that just wasn’t making the grade.

As Director of Finance Bob Brody recalls, “Our old phone system had a number of inefficiencies.  Our business office moved across the street and had to get all new phone numbers, separate from our existing lines, which was a hassle for everyone who called our office.  And our old system lacked all the productivity features that come with the latest IP technology; basically, if you were away from your desk, you were out of touch.”

With faculty, administration, and staff at Rye Country Day School communicating on a daily basis not only with each other but with parents, students, trustees, prospective families, alumni, and colleagues at other institutions, the existing phone system left a serious gap in the staff’s connectivity and limited the school’s responsiveness.

“We knew we needed a new system,” Bob Brody explains, “so we contacted a consultant to help us look for the right company.  After evaluating our options, the consultant eventually knocked it down to two contenders, one that was more expensive and one that was cheaper.”  After inviting both vendors to make a proposal and demonstrate the benefits of their system, the school’s Building and Grounds Committee met with the consultant to make a final decision.  The choice was clear: Rye Country Day School went with a state-of-the-art ShoreTel IP unified communications system from Select Telecom.

Believe it or not, this was actually the more expensive option, but Rye Country Day School was thinking long-term.  Says Bob, “It was worth the extra money to get a robust system that’s up-to-date and would stay that way for years to come.  It quickly became apparent that the cheaper non-IP system we considered would be out of date within a couple years, but the ShoreTel would serve us well for at least 5-10 more years.  When you spread the investment out over that much time, you realize how much better of an investment it is.”

The full system installation – including 200 phones and a Phybridge data switch to connect the campus’s many buildings – was completed quickly during the summer with minimal interruptions to daily operations.  Select Telecom conducted a handful of training sessions for staff and faculty, and before long, Rye Country Day School was up and running.

Of course, as with any new phone system, there were a few bumps in the road.  As Bob recalls, “We realized during the installation that certain phones needed a different set of features, and we needed to make some changes.  And with a mix of PC and Mac computers, it took some time to make sure everyone had everything that they need in terms of software.”  But ultimately, every issue was addressed.  “We really appreciated that whenever there were problems, we always had someone at Select Telecom to talk to.  Danielle [Crawford, Account Manager at Select Telecom] got back to us quickly and was incredibly helpful.  She didn’t rest until we were happy.”

With the new system in place, it’s now much easier for Rye Country Day School’s staff and faculty to be connected.  “Our business office was finally merged back onto the same phone numbers as the rest of the school, and people can now get their messages even when not at their desks,” Bob praises.  “This system has made it infinitely easier to give better service to parents and to be more responsive.  Everyone is much happier – after 3 months, there have been very, very few complaints.”

Rye Country Day School also discovered that the ShoreTel system’s ease of administration was another big bonus.  Says Bob, “Our IT Director – who is in charge of the system – has saved a lot of time in terms of programming.  If we hire a new employee or someone changes locations, it’s simple and quick to get their phone set up, and we can do it all in-house.  That’s been a big plus.”

Moving to a new communication system is never 100% painless, but Bob feels that Rye Country Day School’s smooth transition can be attributed to a combination of finding the right vendor in Select Telecom and setting the right expectations with the school.  “You have to be patient when you’re implementing a new system,” he advises.  “Take the time to make sure that your expectations and timeline are on the same page with the vendor,” just as Rye Country Day School and Select Telecom did together.

All in all, if he could do it over, Bob Brody wouldn’t change a thing.  “I would definitely go with this system.”