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Village of Gurnee and GW-Unify

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Posted: 30 Aug 2005
 

Background

Much like cities of larger population, the Village of Gurnee is an organization that requires a relationship between technology and administration in order to effectively manage its many departments. A major part of the successful administration of Gurnee's operations involves their management of voicemail.

The Village of Gurnee has been a Novell GroupWise and Cisco CallManager user for 10 years. It utilizes these technologies for 80 users in its city network of three major departments- Village Hall, Public Works, and the Fire Department.

Challenges

Prior to 2005, the Village of Gurnee managed their voicemail system through Cisco CallManager and a desktop application. The application was a traditional PBX with a computer based voicemail system and separate desktop client independent of GroupWise.

Although Gurnee was pleased with the services of CallManager, the PBX setup required users to learn how to use a separate desktop application to manage their voicemail; and prevented Gurnee from being able to manage voicemails seamlessly from within the more familiar GroupWise environment.

Their previous setup with the traditional PBX posed three obstacles that needed to be overcome as Gurnee began looking for a replacement solution:

  1. Voicemail retention. With the PBX, users found it very difficult to retain voicemail messages. This was primarily due to the difficulty of learning how to manage the voicemails on the phone and in the desktop application simultaneously. Many of the support phone calls fielded by Chris Velkover, IS Director for the Village of Gurnee, were directly related to lost voicemails. Velkover found that there was a very high incident of lost or deleted voicemails that he and his associates had to spend significant time recovering for city workers. The Village of Gurnee specifically needed a solution that made it easy and quick to manage and store voicemails.


  2. Voicemail forwarding & routing. With the difficulty of managing voicemails, Gurnee found that they were ineffective in sharing information stored in voicemail. Users were reluctant to forward voicemails internally and externally because of fear of losing or unsuccessfully transferring the information. Without proper flow of information, Gurnee workers found that they were taking extra time to annotate voicemails in email format, look for old notes, call an associate for information, and in some cases do without. Gurnee wanted a solution that would make forwarding and sharing voicemails just as easy as forwarding and sharing emails.


  3. Shorter learning curves & better productivity As stated above, the PBX and separate desktop application required users to learn a new application entirely different to the GroupWise client that they were used to using for email. This led to mismanagement of voicemails which in turn led to loss of time, productivity, ROI of the PBX, and voicemails. There was an obvious need for a solution that worked with both their Cisco CallManager and their GroupWise client transparently. In other words, Gurnee wanted a solution that did not require workers to relearn how to use CallManager and GroupWise.

Options

Gurnee found that they really only had three options to explore when looking for a solution.

Option 1: Their first option was to continue using the PBX and separate desktop application, adding training for the users. This was an option to be considered since they had already invested time and money in the system. All they would have to do is find time and resources to train the users on how to effectively use the PBX system.

Option 2: The second option was to look for a replacement for their PBX system that would work with the current Cisco setup.

Option 3: The third option was to use a new solution, GW-Unify from Advanced Logic Industries.

Solution

Gurnee chose to go with GW-Unify. Their dissatisfaction with the current PBX, but satisfaction with CallManager, contributed to their decision to go away from the PBX and move to an entirely new solution. Moreover, there was obvious discomfort with the idea of having to try and train the users, since many of them were very happy with the manageability of GroupWise and resistant to having to learn a new application.

Why GW-Unify

GW-Unify provides a seamless integration between Novell GroupWise and Cisco's Unified Messaging system without requiring a change in email platform.

Voice messages are made accessible and manageable to the user, regardless of their method of message access, including telephone, PC softphone, email (online, remote and web access modes) as well as via appropriately equipped PDA's. The message status (new vs. read) is synchronized regardless of whether the voicemail was accessed through voicemail, through email, or by other methods. Voice messages can also be combined with other electronic attachments including faxes, and forwarded to others via email.

By leveraging the GroupWise email system, GroupWise rules can also be established to automatically route and further customize the management of voice and fax messages to other folders, or forward them to other mailboxes.

Gurnee found that GW-Unify was their answer because it fulfilled their need in many ways.

First, GW-Unify gives users the ability to manage their voicemail message stores through their GroupWise email platform.

Users scan, prioritize and respond to all of their messages from their GroupWise inbox. A quick glance at their inbox shows users the Caller ID for each voice message - users don't have to wade through their entire voicemail inbox to retrieve specific messages. No more constant calls to their voicemail system to be sure they've heard every important message. Users organize voice messages the same way they do email, so all communication can be retrieved from a single location. With GW-Unify, users automatically copy voice messages to their choice of GroupWise folders, giving them more flexibility to handle the voicemails quickly and efficiently.

Working transparently with GroupWise, GW-Unify users are allowed to continue with an application that they were familiar with. This alone solves the three major problems that Gurnee wanted resolved with a new application. Users don't have to learn a new application, fewer messages are lost because voicemail can be managed easily in GroupWise, and forwarding and sharing voicemail information is just as easy as forwarding and sharing email.

Chris Velkover found that GW-Unify was attractive for the convenience factor as well. GW-Unify offers users the convenience of managing both email and voicemail in their GroupWise as opposed to using two separate programs. The mobility of GroupWise is carried over into the mobility of GW-Unify, making it easy for users to retrieve and manage voicemails on laptops, PDA's, and other mobile devices while away from the desktop.

Another area that made GW-Unify appropriate for Gurnee was that it was a time saving application. Since users manage voicemails more effectively through GW-Unify, Chris Velkover and others spend less time answering support calls dealing with lost or deleted voicemails. GW-Unify gives Gurnee the options to realize the benefits of unified messaging coordinated with their existing GroupWise installation. Gurnee saves time because there is no need for re-training their support staff or users on a new or existing application. GW-Unify is easy to install and requires little management. Because GW-Unify provides users with the ability to manage voicemails in the GroupWise clients, users save time having to manually sort through voicemails, annotate, compose an email, and then send the email. The overall ease of voicemail management provided by GW-Unify saves Gurnee precious time.

Ultimately, Chris Velkover felt that GW-Unify was the answer because it increases overall productivity of users. The time saving, ease of use, and convenience offered by GW-Unify made it the correct choice regarding unified messaging and the Village of Gurnee.

Deployment

Chris Velkover and the Village of Gurnee began their deployment of GW-Unify with a trial version. The trial version was initially set up for a few users, including IT personal and a few ranking officials that had the background to give appropriate feedback. Gurnee's trial experience coupled with the quick and accurate response of GW-Unify support for support inquiries that came up, convinced Gurnee executives to purchase GW-Unify.

The migration to GW-Unify was done transparently without any loss of time or resources. Within a short period of time, all 80 users were able to receive and manage their voicemails through GW-Unify on their GroupWise client. Any instruction on how to use GW-Unify was simply done through a few emails. Chris Velkover states that only a few questions relating to read and unread voicemails have been sent to him by users. Overall, the migration has been quick, easy and problem free.

Current Attitudes and Changes

Currently, the attitudes of users towards voicemail have changed dramatically. Chris Velkover says that he has noticed that the vast majority of users have expressed their desire to see that GW-Unify is deployed and used indefinitely.

Before GW-Unify, there was an apparent reluctance to try and manage voicemail through the PBX setup. Velkover says that today there is a much better flow of messages between users and externally to those outside Gurnee. This has led to increases in productivity. Users are finding that they are able to dedicate time and resources to more important areas as they now manage voicemail in a fraction of the time. Users are also happy to be able to manage voicemails while away from the desktop. In one case, firefighters have found that during their shifts offsite, they are able to complete work because they have access to the information in their voicemails.

Better voicemail management through GW-Unify has also saved time for Velkover and his support staff. There has been almost a complete drought of calls for lost or deleted voicemails. They also recognize that there is very little management of GW-Unify which allows them to dedicate time to other areas. When they have run across a problem or question, they have found that the GW-Unify support is responsive and knowledgeable in correcting the problem

Overall, the Village of Gurnee is very delighted with the productivity and success that they have seen since deploying GW-Unify

Moving Forward

Moving forward, Gurnee is still very pleased with the current setup. CallManager, GroupWise, and GW-Unify together provide Gurnee with the tools that they need to successfully manage voicemails. Velkover and Gurnee are pleased with the productivity and success of the integration of the three products. They look forward to implementing more administrative functions and taking full advantage of what GW-Unify has to offer. They have found that their investment has returned productivity and time and because of this they will continue to run GW-Unify.

For More Information

For more information about GW unify, or to request an evaluation for your organization, please visit www.gwunify.com

GW-Unify 2.01 has tested compatible with Cisco Unity Version 4. The Cisco Compatible logo signifies that ALIIP's product has undergone interoperability testing by ALIIP together with Cisco based on testing criteria set by Cisco. ALIIP is solely responsible for the support and warranty of its product. Cisco makes no warranties, express or implied, with respect to ALIIP's product or its interoperation with the listed Cisco product(s) and disclaims any implied warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular use or against infringement.


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