Advanced Phone System Rings Up Savings, Efficiency

By Ariella Brown  |  Posted 2016-04-01 Email Print this article Print
Phone System

What holds many firms back from migrating to a unified communications system is hesitation over leaving their familiar phone system … but that didn't stop ELSA.

Sometimes circumstances give a business the push it needs to take that leap to a new technology. That was the case with ELSA, an Elwood, Ind., automotive component manufacturer that specializes in fuel tanks, exhaust systems, and structural components for original equipment manufacturers.

As Bob Bakehorn, ELSA Information System Group leader, explained, his business was compelled to look into a new phone system after 17 years. Their provider warned them that their voicemail would stop working on the setup they had. However, the options offered by that provider were designed for larger corporations than their 430 employee outfit.

At that point ELSA was compelled to shop for a new provider with no frame of reference for expectations and current costs. As ELSA was not in the habit of switching providers every few years, Bakehorn said that they wanted to be sure their selection would be one they could live with for a decade or more.

In the course of shopping for the system—which took close to a year and involved researching many reviews of services, licenses and bids—Bakehorn found that many phone vendors offered very low upfront costs, but that didn't make them a sound value. For example, one offered a deal of no upfront costs at all, rolling everything into a monthly fee.

While that can appear attractive to a business that doesn't have a lot of capital to invest, a closer investigation showed that it would be false economy. Assessing what the cost would be over time for such a system reveals that the costs escalate, particularly in a package that requires additional licenses for each phone feature—such as one license for voicemail over the phone and another for access to voicemail over the computer.

Though other companies offered cheaper packages, ELSA'S management concluded that Digium's business phone system best met their needs—and did so at the best price. It offered "the best deal for everything we needed," Bakehorn recalled. He said that the reliability of the system and the simplicity of the licensing were particularly appealing.

The company transitioned to Digium over the course of a couple of months. It had the system run in parallel with its existing phone system from April to June 2015 and then completed the switchover in July.

Phone System Provides More Efficient Communications

As a result of the migration, ELSA now has more efficient communications. The identifying information on a call in the new system lets the recipient know which call is important and/or urgent, and it  provides direct access to new messages, Bakehorn explains.

In contrast, the old system didn't sort and prioritize the voicemails in the same way, forcing people to listen through all the old voicemails to get to the latest message. The improvement is important in a business in which employees and managers have to keep in touch and learn about a problem with a part right away.

Digium's system also costs less than the old system—even after factoring in the cost of network installation and fiber—because it eliminates the need for costly labor maintenance and repairs.

For the setup, ELSA opted for fiber to cover long distances, as they have 500- and 700-foot runs between cabinet locations. The fiber is protected and armored, which is reassuring in the automotive supply environment that has welding equipment, lift trucks and other potential hazards to delicate wires.

Overall, Bakehorn is very pleased with the performance of the new UC system. He's also satisfied with the outlook for the system, which meets their needs now and can grow with the company in the future.


As a professional blogger and Baseline contributor, Ariella Brown writes about analytics, marketing, branding, social media, big data, and the impact of the Internet on education and society, among other topics.


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