Higgs & Sons, one of the largest law firms in the West Midlands, has implemented a new unified communications system from ShoreTel in order to improve staff efficiency.

The firm wanted to make sure its partners were more easily contactable by clients at any given time whatever their location. After upgrading its WAN network, which was running at capacity before the upgrade, the firm evaluated different IP-based communication systems from Mitel, Cisco and ShoreTel.

The evaluation process led to the ShoreTel Unified Communications (UC) system being chosen. “We opted for ShoreTel as it not only proved to be the most scalable and easy to manage, but also offered all-inclusive cluster licensing,” said Stephen Brown, IT director at Higgs & Sons.

“Competing systems used modularised licensing, strapping additional costs on for features, whereas the ShoreTel licensing model bundled all features, necessary hardware and supporting costs together, and proved to be the most cost-effective system,” Brown said.

By standardising on the ShoreTel system Higgs & Sons consolidated communications across its offices to enhance remote access for partners and make it easier for their clients to contact them. Staff are using ShoreTel Communicator technology with mobile access. This gives mobile employees the same communications tools and integration with Microsoft Outlook as though they are at their deskphone.

They can now accept calls, view voicemails, and use Microsoft Outlook directories to identify phone numbers and make calls in a single click. And clients can now reach all employees quicker regardless of location. Staff can also now collaborate more easily and quickly to ensure fast responses to client and partner enquiries.

“We have witnessed increased productivity of our employees as a result of receiving full remote access to calls, voicemail and email services,” said Brown. “Staff are no longer afraid of missing important client calls if they step away from the office. Everyone has access to the same capabilities whether they are at their desk, at home or with a client.” ShoreTel partner Solar Communications installed the system.

The University of Wales Institute, Cardiff (UWIC) also recently installed a similar unified communications system. UWIC said it was able to handle more than 4,000 calls on the first day of the university clearing process last August, which its old system would not have coped with.