Burns & Levinson LLP is a Boston-based law firm with 135 attorneys, a handful of locations in the northeast, and an IT staff of seven. To help improve the cost-efficiency of IT operations, Burns & Levinson’s CIO Henry Chace was tasked with bringing the firm’s phone technology into the 21st century. The challenge for Chace’s team was to execute the transition to a new voice system without disrupting day-to-day operations.
Chace selected ShoreTel’s Voice over IP (VoIP) technology, a solution that was proposed and implemented by Harbor Networks.
“Voice over IP has been hitting the marketplace for a long time,” explains Chace. “But law firms have been very slow to change because they don’t like spending money. Law firms are cash-based businesses in the U.S. and the partners are extremely sensitive to the expenditure of cash. That’s just the nature of running the business. So I had been learning and training about Voice over IP since it first became a trend years ago. “
Harbor Networks was able to demonstrate significant cost-savings and ease of use with the ShoreTel system. But for Chace’s team, one of the most compelling differentiators was the system’s support for mobile technology.
“Lawyers are very mobile now and their clients expect 24×7 service,” says Chace. “It’s not the good old days of the 11×17 legal pad and scratching away with a Mount Blanc pen in a mahogany office any more. It’s really smart technology – iPhones, and iPads. It’s being on the road traveling all the time, but always being available for your clients.”
“The attraction of a Voice over IP phone is integration with your email, so you can see who called, you can hear the call, you can record the call, you can save the call, you can forward the call. You can manage your phone via your computer or your smart phone. I can make a few clicks in my Communicator icon and transfer you to my cell phone. And the attorneys love that.”
“They also like being able to manage the phone from anywhere. They can pretty much log in and do whatever they need to do with the phone. And they don’t need to rely on the IT staff in to manage the phones for them.”
Chace was introduced to Harbor through one of his technology integration partners. The company had worked with Harbor on a ShoreTel deployment at a Boston law firm that was similar in size to Burns & Levinson.
“After hearing about the project, I took my IT director colleague from the other firm out to lunch and interrogated her thoroughly,” laughs Chace. “How she thought it went, what she thought of the phones. She was extremely forthcoming with information.”
“Then I called Harbor’s other references, which were extremely positive. So I did all my due diligence.”
Chace says Harbor won his firm’s business by virtue of a compelling product demo. “By far those who attended the demonstrations were much more taken with the ShoreTel phone. There were many features they liked about it.”
“Harbor did an outstanding job with the demo. They walked through a process of picking up calls and managing the phones, to see how the phones actually operated. And that was extremely persuasive for a lot of the folks here.”
For Chace, it was critical to have no disruptions in service during the transition to the new phone system. “There was a requirement I had, which none of the vendors liked, but which Harbor and ShoreTel were willing to do. It was that I wanted the transition to be really smooth.”
“If you watch a senior partner work his or her phone, it’s almost like watching a virtuoso with a piece of equipment. They didn’t even have to look at the phone to use the features; it was like an extension of them. So I wanted to make sure they had a clean transition.”
Chace’s team and the Harbor Networks team came up with a clever transition strategy. “For two weeks, we had the ShoreTel phones and the [old] phones both on the desk together. They were all going to training and coming back to their desks so they could practice with the ShoreTel phone. And then once we felt that people were comfortable, we transitioned in a single night.”
“Harbor sent in people to help us go around and collect the [old] phones, re-test all the ShoreTel phones to make sure they were working properly, properly labeled, and everything was the way it was supposed to be.”
“So the day we went live on the ShoreTel phones, the Harbor folks came in and again walked the floor, making sure people were comfortable with the phones, answering any questions. They would literally go into people’s offices or to systems desks and say, do you have any questions for me, and how can I help you?”
The integrated Harbor Networks solution also included the ShoreTel Communicator call manager. “We did not try to roll out Communicator immediately,” explains Chace. “We wanted people to get used to using just the device and not confuse them with communicator. So we only trained reception and some of the assistants who had a large ratio of attorneys to cover that could really benefit from Communicator.”
“You have an assistant working for three, four and sometimes five different attorneys. And she’s expected to juggle the phones and manage the calls. So the assistants can manage the phones using the Communicator and also the phones directly to really efficiently manage the phone in an even bigger way than they were before with the old phone.”
“After the system went live, we went through the whole firm training everyone on Communicator. It was really frosting on the cake. By that point people were used to the phone and they absolutely loved having the Communicator piece. So it was one of the very best projects that I’ve ever done in terms of acceptance and immediate payback.”
Chace is quite pleased with the project’s outcome. “The new phones offer a whole load of functionality that the old phones did not,” he says.
According to Chace, Harbor Networks covered all the bases during the deployment phase. “They installed the new ShoreTel server and the phones, and they conducted all the training for the use of the phones. They trained my staff and me on how to use the ShoreWare Director, which is the management piece for the phones. They set up all the extensions and voice mailboxes for us and trained everyone in the firm including the receptionist and all of my team on how to manage the system.”
Asked to grade Harbor’s support, Chace says ”Harbor Networks left us self-sufficient. We manage the voice systems ourselves. We have a maintenance contract with them, so if we have problems we contact them. As a rule we do our own moves, adds, and changes.”
“We’ve actually had very little go wrong. Harbor has done a number of patches and upgrades for us as they become available from ShoreTel. They answer when we have help questions. It’s rare, but we do have them from time to time. We call them and they open a ticket and they respond to those.”
“Mainly my relationship with Harbor has been selling them to my colleagues because they did such a good job for us. The people call me for a reference and I rave about how wonderful Harbor is. And I invite people in to see our phones and how they work and why we like them.“
“The people at Harbor are very loyal, they work really hard,” says Chace. “And they get it about customer satisfaction. You know they really go the extra mile.”