Cisco SMB, Premier Partner Networld Helps Life Community Church Overcome Phone, Bandwidth Issues with Cisco Unified Communications & Cisco Wireless Network
International religious organization was suffering with a phone system lacking many of today's standard features and was paying a lot of money for phone lines and for DSL that did not deliver the necessary bandwidth.
Cisco Premier and SMB Partner Networld Consulting designs and deploys a Cisco Unified Communications solutions that offers powerful communications features at a price attractive for the organization.
January 1, 2007
Life Community Church (LCC) is headquartered in Durham, North Carolina and is an international, multi-cultural religious organization with more than 2,000 members, representing 50 nations.
Its main office was suffering the same pain points as any small and medium-sized business or organization. Its aging phone system lacked many of today's standard features, and it was paying a lot of money for expensive phone lines and slow DSL.
"We had added to our staff over the years, and the phone system wasn't keeping up," says Pamela Evans, director of operations for LCC. "The DSL couldn't handle all the people who needed to access the Internet, especially the employees in our graphics department who needed to send large files."
Life Community Church Goes On a Mission for a New Phone System
Pamela set out gathering quotes for a new phone system, including contacting the local phone company for a new PBX system. A church parishioner recommended she talk to Johnny Gorham, CEO of Networld Consulting. Networld, a Cisco Premier Certified Partner and SMB Select Partner, has a mission to make its customers more efficient and profitable by providing quality products, performing expert service and technology training that produce return on investment (ROI) and reducing operating cost.
"I am not a technical person, and this was going to be a major investment for the Church, so I asked a lot of questions," says Pamela. "Johnny was very patient in explaining his recommended solution and what it would do for us."
LCC was really looking hard for a new phone system, but in reviewing its business processes and assessing how it uses existing technology, Gorham found that the church's data network was also a big problem.
"While they were focused on replacing the PBX phone system, I felt their real pain point was their data network," says Gorham. "I thought a Cisco Unified Communications and wireless connectivity was the best option for them." The Church had 50 network users, and would need 30 phones with a new phone system. Their current phone system would not allow for direct dial calls, and they were using a hosted solution for their Web and email services. There was an international office involved, and they also needed security. Gorham also wanted to deploy a wireless solution needed for the 20 students of North Carolina Bible College, located within the main building, and for five-to-10 church employees who use laptop computers. A Cisco Unified Wireless IP Phone would also allow a staff member to roam throughout the building and stay connected.
Gorham recommended for Life Community Church a Cisco Unified Communications system, including Cisco Unified CallManager Express, Cisco Unity Express, and Cisco Unified IP Phones 7970G, 7940G and 7912G. A PIX firewall would help ensure network security. Gorham also recommended a Cisco Wireless Network so that students at North Carolina Bible College could bring their laptops from home and remain online while moving among classrooms and conference room without compromising the network security. And by utilizing a Cisco Wireless IP Phone, church staff could roam and be connected to the office seamlessly.
Her immediate trust in Gorham and the Networld team impressed Evans, and when she saw the Cisco Unified IP Phones, she was very excited by what they would offer her organization.
"We liked the style and function of the Cisco Unified IP Phones and what they would enable us to do," says Evans. "We would have direct in-bound dialing, so no one would have to go through a receptionist or be put on hold. The Cisco Wireless IP Phone would enable one of our staff to remain connected while taking care of business elsewhere in the office. And our bible college students would have wireless online access, which is an expected function at just about any college these days. It was amazing to me that our data and such a powerful phone system could be on the same network."
Flexible Financing Options Makes Dream Technology a Reality for Church
Of course, as with any not-for-profit organization, the budget was a concern.
"This was a big purchase for the church - we don't always have capital just lying around," says Evans. "But after researching it, we found the Cisco solution recommended by Networld was very reasonably priced given the features it would deliver, and the enormous productivity improvements we would gain. I talked everything through with our CFO and she also felt that we needed to upgrade to a system with greater capacity and trusted my decision to go with Networld and their Cisco solution."
In order to ease the church's concerns over large upfront costs, Gorham set up a leasing solution. Evans and the church's financial staff found the leasing option to be attractive, as it was at a good rate, and was flexible with a lot of options including an option buyout at the end of the lease terms.
"I wanted to deploy for Life Community Church a solution that would best leverage their investment," says Gorham. "I wanted to solve their bandwidth and communications problems today, and provide them with a platform for growth and additional applications in the future. The Cisco CallManager Express is a terrific solution; it caters to the needs of the SMB at an affordable cost."
From the time the Church approved the purchase, Gorham had just 30 days to deploy the new data and voice network. The wiring took about two weeks to install, and then Networld moved forward on the hardware installation. Wireless LAN access points were installed in areas of need within the building after Networld verified accessibility with wireless clients, and a Cisco Wireless Security Router was also deployed. Training was conducted prior to the install to help users feel comfortable with new phones and their features.
"Anytime you change phones and systems you expect that some people might not be comfortable with a new way of doing things, but that really wasn't an issue," says Evans. "Everyone was just really excited about the new features the phone system has and how quickly they'd be able to get onto the Internet."
Church, Staff Members and Bible College Students All Enjoying Improved Communications
With its converged network and Cisco Unified Communications and Cisco Wireless Network in place, Life Community Church today is enjoying instant Internet access and the ability to send and receive large files quickly. Incoming calls no longer go through a switchboard, each staff member receives their calls directly, and they like how the Cisco Unified IP Phones show missed calls so they can get back to those people immediately. Students at North Carolina Bible College can easily connect online and stay connected as they walk among classrooms and conference rooms. Networld also deployed a Cisco 7920 Wireless IP Phone so that if a staff member needs to travel to another facility, they are connected seamlessly with the church office. The Church used to distribute updated corporate directory lists, and those typed-up paper lists are things of the past.
"Now when they need to call someone, no matter what facility they're at, they just scroll down the directory on the phone and click on it," says Evans. "It's a huge time-saver and no one has to contend with outdated directory lists anymore. And it's so easy for our staff to change locations - they just bring their phones with them and plug it in." Evans says having just one, integrated network to manage is also a huge benefit. She no longer needs to hire an outside telephone expert to handle repairs or moves, adds, and changes which saves money and is so much more efficient.
Gorham says the situation Life Community Church had prior to its new Cisco solutions is typical of what he sees in the SMB world.
"Money is always a concern with small companies," he says. "Their investment in technology must deliver immediate results. They want the technology to enable them to do things faster and cheaper. They want easier and better communication and they want the network to support that communication. Cisco Unified Communications and a Cisco Wireless Network enables all of that and Cisco makes it affordable for SMBs."
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