A U of T Telecommunications Case Study
“We needed a new system that would meet the very unique requirements of our 500-plus faculty, staff, and students.”
James Fiege, Manager, Information and Instructional Technology Services (IITS), Faculty of Dentistry
The Faculty of Dentistry, located on Edward Street just east of University Ave, had been looking for a new phone system for some time to replace its aging, and frequently failing, PBX system. With business operations that include a busy reception and patient call-centre, 14 in-house clinics, students that need to be in touch with their patients, as well as the other telecom requirements common to schools running professional programs, Dentistry needed a robust, reliable, versatile, and secure solution.
Having never been a part of the university’s legacy Bell Centrex telecommunications infrastructure, Dentistry was considering a variety of solutions to replace its on-premise PBX system. Ultimately, the Faculty decided to migrate to the new enterprise VoIP service being implemented across the university by the ITS Telecommunications team.
“Working with the U of T Telecommunications team on this project has been an absolute pleasure. We were impressed with the professionalism of Will Hu, who was our Unified Communications Support Analyst from U of T’s Telecom department. The vendor, BCT, listened to, and was responsive to, our particular needs.”
One of Dentistry’s unique requirements was for students to be able to be in voice communication with their patients. Rather than provision a discrete phone line to each student, which would have been overkill, not to mention more costly, BCT created a new plan that provided each student with a shared phone number and an individual voicemail box. Students use an application on their mobile phone to listen to their voicemail message and call their patients back. This voicemail-only plan turned out to be the perfect solution for this unique situation.
Beth Hensler, Dentistry’s Manager of Administrative Services, discusses the importance of change management for the move to the new system.
“The Dentistry IITS team ensured a climate of open communication and thorough consultation during the implementation of the new system, ensuring all stakeholders at Dentistry were well prepared. They offered information sessions, distributed clear and regular email updates and offered lots of in-person consultation. This was very important for the roll out and a key reason why it was such a success.”
One of the ways Dentistry controlled costs in the implementation was by encouraging staff to use headsets with the VoIP software client for making and receiving calls. Says Beth, “Some people were resistant to change, so we had to work with them. Luckily, we have a great IT team who were always on hand—if a user had an issue, there were always two staff to provide hands-on help.”
The implementation at the Faculty of Dentistry was completed in late August. After a couple of months of using the new system, even those in the change-averse group have embraced it, citing as the primary benefits, better ergonomics and the ability to take notes and multitask as a result of wearing a headset instead of holding a phone. Using the phone has become a hands-free task. Other advantages of the system that staff have noted are: the ability to easily see the directory of the rest of the university, something that was not available to them previously; 5-digit dialing to the rest of the university—again, a new experience for them; and the ease of copying and pasting a phone number and then a single mouse click to connect the call.
Mary Choi, Assistant Dean, Administration at Dentistry, is very happy with the migration process and the resulting product:
“This was a good, collaborative implementation. The experience working with ITS Telecommunications has made us very positive about working with the university on other implementations in the future.”