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Boston Ballet Case Study

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Case Studies

Boston Ballet keeps productions running smoothly with behind-the-scenes help from ShoreTel, and saves as much as $40,000

Boston Ballet

Outdated phone system too difficult and expensive to manage

The Boston Ballet’s aging phone system offered little flexibility for routing calls, managing voicemail, and adding extensions. Moreover, the outdated system consumed a significant part of its annual budget.

Need an IP phone system that offers flexibility during peak times

Ensuring that the ballet school and ballet company run smoothly, especially during The Nutcracker, depends on seamless communication with ballet patrons, and among staff, dancers, teachers, and parents. Boston Ballet’s phone system is a critical part of its behind-the-scenes efforts and its service to the public.

With an out-of-date telephony solution, the frustrated Boston Ballet began looking for another solution. The company’s longtime network vendor Guardian Information Technology introduced the company to the ShoreTel VoIP communications system.

As an IP telephony system, ShoreTel would reduce Boston Ballet’s monthly line charges and recurring maintenance costs by enabling the IT staff to easily handle changes. The browser-based interface would allow the in-house staff to take control of even major moves, adds, and changes to the various extensions, rather than relying on, and paying for, outside vendors each time.

ShoreTel reduces costs and complexity, while providing advanced features

The system consists of ShoreGear 60/12 and 120/24 voice switches, which run an embedded, real-time operating system, and one T1 interface unit. The T1 interface allows Boston Ballet to eliminate a significant number of individual POTS lines and consolidate service onto a single cost-effective, reliable circuit.

At the school, the Boston Ballet installed a switch connected to a 512K frame-relay circuit used to carry existing data traffic, which eliminated five $180-per-month OPX lines. With ShoreTel in both locations, Boston Ballet reduced its monthly phone bill by almost 50 percent by cutting the number of lines it needed.

About 150 staff members and dancers now use the ShoreTel system, with some on-phone extensions and others just taking advantage of voicemail capabilities. The company’s 60 dancers, who do not have individual phones, can dial in anytime, from any location, to access their voicemail messages.

With ShoreTel, IT staff easily configured various menus for the box office, ballet company, and school, giving callers options to quickly select and get to the right individual’s phone or voicemail. Over time, as staffing has shifted, Boston Ballet has found it no longer needs receptionists, saving at least $30,000 a year.

ShoreTel’s call handling features let Boston Ballet staff route calls to ring at another extension, such as an external number or cell phone. Out of the office, staff members can remotely redirect calls to their homes and keep communication flowing. Most of the staff also access voicemail messages on their PCs via integration with Microsoft Outlook. With a unified mailbox, they can retrieve their email and voicemail in a single location, and easily forward messages to co-workers.

Additional ShoreTel features further enhance the Ballet’s ability to communicate internally and externally. Conferencing enables the CEO to communicate easily with artistic directors and dancers around the country. Staff members use ShoreTel’s call history records to find a previous caller’s phone number, if they didn’t happen to record it previously.

“WORKGROUPS HAVE BEEN INFINITELY HELPFUL WITH ROUTING TRAFFIC. IN THE PAST, IT WAS VERY RARE THAT A CUSTOMER WOULD CALL IN AND IMMEDIATELY GET THE PERSON THEY NEEDED TO SPEAK TO.”

Michael Kernochan, IT Coordinator
Boston Ballet

Grace under production pressure

During productions, advanced features of the ShoreTel phone system allow Boston Ballet to handle an increasing number of calls and extensions, as well as easily forward calls to other phones as the crew moves among the school, offices, and theater.

The box office takes advantage of ShoreTel workgroup features to round-robin calls among the staff and ensure that patrons reach the next available customer service representative to purchase tickets.

“Workgroups have been infinitely helpful with routing traffic,” says Michael Kernochan, IT coordinator at Boston Ballet. “In the past, it was very rare that a customer would call in and immediately get the person they needed to speak to.”

During The Nutcracker season, Boston Ballet can easily configure the system with The Nutcracker information hotline. The children’s coordinator, responsible for managing the 260 young dancers
in the show, forwards her extension to ring at her office, her cell phone, or at the theater. While their children are rehearsing, parents have to remember only one number, instead of the multiple numbers in productions past.

“If there’s a snowstorm or cancellation, at a moment’s notice staff can remotely change their voicemail recording instantaneously from anywhere,” Kernochan explains. Likewise, the system supports the school in allowing teachers to route their calls to the theater, and record informative messages for parents on their voicemail, from off-site.

ShoreTel saves the Boston Ballet $30,000 to $40,000 annually

Without the need for outside help, the ballet company can respond to user needs more quickly, while reducing its costs for on-site technical support. ShoreTel’s distributed architecture offers exceptional reliability, which is critical during productions. “In my career so far, the ShoreTel phone system is easily the best I’ve seen. Administration and management of moves, adds, and changes is a breeze – all possible from a single graphical user interface,” says Kernochan.

Though the large nonprofit operates with a $20 million annual operating budget, with funding from donations, sponsors, and ticket sales, it must continuously keep a close eye on its operational efficiency. In total, the ShoreTel system saves Boston Ballet $30,000 to $40,000 annually.

“IN MY CAREER SO FAR, THE SHORETEL PHONE SYSTEM IS EASILY THE BEST I’VE SEEN. ADMINISTRATION AND MANAGEMENT OF MOVES, ADDS, AND CHANGES IS A BREEZE – ALL POSSIBLE FROM A SINGLE GRAPHICAL USER INTERFACE.”

CHALLENGE:

Boston Ballet needed a phone system that could keep up with employees and dancers constantly moving between the office and school during productions. Additionally, it hoped to ease the burden on IT staff, while reducing maintenance and support costs.

SOLUTION:

ShoreTel VoIP significantly eases management for Boston Ballet’s IT staff by delivering easy-to-use features that enhance communication, reduced line and maintenance costs, and unprecedented reliability.

BENEFITS:

  • Cost savings on support
  • Ease of management
  • Reduced line charges
  • Savings of as much as $40,000 annually