Skip to main content

You are here

The Recording Academy Case Study

Facebook Google plus Linkedin Twitter
Case Studies

GRAMMY awards Mitel best in Unified Communications solutions

Office move prompts opportunity for new telephony solution

When a move to a new building presented an ideal opportunity to upgrade to the featurerich, flexible, and cost-effective functionality of IP communications, The Recording Academy awarded the honor to Mitel.

Rapid and cost-effective deployment

When the vice president of IT, Rick Engdahl, first joined The Recording Academy, there was no plan or budget to replace its legacy PBX. But then The Recording Academy entered into a new lease in a state-of-the-art building, he saw the perfect opportunity to implement a new unified communications (UC) system with minimal disruption and expense. This was also consistent with The Recording Academy’s goal of “digitizing” to integrate and streamline its operations, and accommodate changing priorities and projects.

With an IT support staff of only five, The Recording Academy needed an IP communication system that could be quickly and cost-effectively deployed. Boosting end-user productivity was also a goal, so the organization wanted UC capabilities that could easily integrate with laptop and desktop PCs.

Based on a previous evaluation, Engdahl thought that Mitel was a good candidate for meeting The Recording Academy’s needs. The IT team was impressed by Mitel’s resilient architecture. Upon further analysis, Mitel was more costeffective than competitors’ when redundant servers and switches were added to the total cost of ownership equation.

“We would get more features — and the specific features we wanted — with Mitel, and the audio quality was second to none. That’s a really important benefit with so many fine-tuned ears in our business,” explains Engdahl.

Mitel’s management ease wins a standing ovation

Delivering increased functionality, with less effort, is one of the keys to the success of The Recording Academy’s Mitel implementation. “The system is intuitive at every level and requires minimal IT resources to support,” says Engdahl. “We can make routine updates — moves, adds, and changes — quickly in-house. To make changes to our previous system, we always had to have a technician come out. Because of cost and time involved, we often couldn’t accommodate users’ requests.”

Mitel portability and fax routing get star billing

The GRAMMY Awards are the most important event of the year for The Recording Academy. The Recording Academy sets up its own VPN for the event by installing multiple T1 lines from the Los Angeles STAPLES Center to its Santa Monica office, and also brings along Mitel.

“People simply unplug their phones and laptops in Santa Monica and plug them directly into our network at the STAPLES Center,” says Engdahl. “We could never do this before. And Mitel lets people work the way they’re accustomed to — using a SoftPhone or a handset tied into their desk or laptop systems.”

Mitel also streamlines ticket order processing. Instead of relying on faxed ticket orders printed out at the STAPLES Center, ticket orders are routed from the fax server to the Mitel system. Not only does this eliminate a tedious paperwork chore, The Recording Academy staff has immediate visibility of incoming orders to ensure timely processing.


Rick Engdahl, Vice President of IT
The Recording Academy

“Mitel improves the workflow,” says Engdahl. “We can route calls through departments in a particular sequence. We set up hunt groups in the awards department to ensure that calls are always answered. We have also set up hunt groups for human resources and the IT help desk. Phones ring on everyone’s desk until someone picks up the call, which ensures that all calls are answered and improves customer service.”

Flexible feature remix provides a higher level of professionalism

Mitel’s flexibility makes it easy to customize the system to meet the specific requirements of end-users and departments, as well as set up temporary operations and remote offices. Something as simple as the Mitel capability for “branding” each of The Recording Academy’s various initiatives, with its own name and main phone number, lends polish and professionalism to the organization’s image.

It’s also easy to integrate business applications with the Mitel system to leverage existing database applications. For instance, the IT group has integrated contacts in existing Filemaker Pro databases so users can call any of these contacts by clicking a button on their computer screens, automatically activating their Mitel telephone.

Mitel’s call clarity is the right sound for the GRAMMY Awards

The excellent sound quality of Mitel’s desk and speakerphones is also a big hit at the The Recording Academy — an important consideration in an organization where sound quality is central to the organization’s mission. “Sound quality is a priority in everything we do,” says Engdahl. “Our staff and customers are in the sound business, and will quickly notice when sound is excellent, and just as quickly when it’s poor. Mitel makes the grade for this environment.”

In addition, a single Mitel phone can support both conventional voice calls and video conferencing, which eliminates the costs of a duplicate set of dedicated video conferencing phones.

Award-winning savings make Mitel a profitable move for a nonprofit

The Mitel UC system began delivering bottomline benefits from the start. The organization saved more than $37,000 because separate phone system wiring wasn’t needed.

On location, the Mitel UC system further compounds those savings. “The cost of renting phones and phone lines to support the awards events at STAPLES Center and the Los Angeles Convention Center alone was close to $20,000,” says Engdahl. “Now the phone system just comes along with us, so we save a large portion of these costs.”


“Mitel is customer-focused,” adds Engdahl. “They actively include customers in their product and feature planning, and release cycles are much shorter. One feature we needed was included in a release a month after we installed our system.”

All in all, the transition proved remarkably profitable for this high-profile, not-for-profit company. “I was able to promise more productive and efficient operations plus dramatic savings, all without disrupting operations,” concludes Engdahl. “I was able to deliver it with Mitel.”


A move to a new building provided the opportunity for The Recording Academy to replace its out-ofdate analog PBX with an IP-based unified communications solution that fully supports its annual GRAMMY Awards telecast.


The organization deployed a Mitel Unified Communications (UC) system with full failover redundancy, 200 Mitel IP 265 color phones, two Mitel 220 T1, two model 90, and one model 24A voice switches.


  • Mobility to support off-site events
  • Superior sound quality
  • Cost-effective solution
  • Cost savings on telephony infrastructure

Type a keyword into the box above, then press Enter.