ShoreTel VoIP - providing simplicity and functionality at the best cost.
Bryant Bloedorn profile photo
Updated June 13, 2015

ShoreTel VoIP - providing simplicity and functionality at the best cost.

Score 10 out of 10
Vetted Review
Reseller
Review Source

Overall Satisfaction with ShoreTel VOIP

ConvergeData is a Certified ShoreTel reseller in Florida and Texas that also uses ShoreTel for our internal phone system.
  • Ease of deployment - we have installed 100-200 user deployments successfully in the course of a single weekend on numerous occasions.
  • Ease of management - management of the system is intuitive and admin training usually takes less than 4 hours to learn the bulk of what you need to know.
  • ROI - upfront system cost is almost always lower than Cisco, Avaya, Mitel. Over 5-7 years ShoreTel also provides a better ROI than hosted solutions as well.
  • ShoreTel recently stopped offering their phones in silver which I believe was a mistake based on the demand in the market for phones in that color.
  • There was talk of instant messaging being an included feature at some point, now it requires the purchase of the conference bridge and a Professional License which isn't usually a problem except for our small business customers who usually have budget constraints. 14.2 allows for the virtualization of the conference bridge so in a VM environment the cost of IM is now just the added Professional License.
  • From a business perspective we spend very little time having to administer our system and our clients have had the same experience. This frees up time to focus on other business goals and objectives. Since most IT organizations are understaffed this is a tremendous benefit.
  • From an end user perspective the phones and UC tools are easy to adopt and use and that is why companies that go with ShoreTel always get a greater ROI ( IMHO) - the investment is only worth it if the new technology is actually adopted at the user level.
  • Avaya,Mitel,ESI,Cisco,RingCentral,8x8, 5 9's, InContact and NEC,Samsung,Toshiba,Iwatsu,3COM,Siemens
ShoreTel beats the competition in several areas - ROI, TCO, end user adoption rate, ease of administration, ease of deployment, system up time, ability to scale easily and sound quality of each and every call.
ShoreTel has a distributed architecture and can scale from 5 to 20,000 users so it fits very well across all verticals and company sizes. ShoreTel also has a hosted offering called ShoreTel SKY so if there is a preference for a cloud based solution then ShoreTel can meet their needs as well. The issues we run across are usually related to the network not being VoIP ready - no MPLS/QoS on the WAN, no PoE on local switches, cabling issues, obsolete hardware and inside wiring.

Using ShoreTel VOIP

5 - Inside sales, outside sales, marketing, support and administrative. Remote users connect using a VPN Concentrator so they can be part of the system and have an extension on their phone at home. We are implementing ECC (Contact Center and Mobility internally soon so we will report back once that is completed).
1 - It takes very little time to support the system. We are constantly improving our skill set and adding new functionality to the system. Recent additions were the SA100 conference bridge and a VPN concentrator which were extremely easy to implement.We added SIP trunks from Etherspeak which provided a huge benefit of having DiD's from across the country in a single trunk group. We also increased our trunking from 3 analog to 15 SIP for the same monthly cost.
  • Inside sales - integration with Salesforce.com CRM gives us the ability to click to dial out of Salesforce and increased the average number of calls made per day by 100%.
  • Support - support calls will always find a support tech even when they are in the field.
  • Outside sales - 5 call handling modes ensure that our salespeople never miss a call.
  • Version 14.2 allows for native SIP so we easily added SIP trunks to our system which allowed us to use DiD's in other markets on the same trunk group (San Antonio and Orlando).
  • We integrated our LifeSize Video Conferencing system with the ShoreTel system to increase use of video by our users.
  • Contact Center for support. All calls, emails and chat will go into a queue so we can better support our customers and accurately keep track of requests.
Once the system is up and running there isn't much to do from an administrative or maintenance perspective. Version upgrades are easy to do, annual support is not outrageous, ShoreTel is always working on ways to improve the product, and the switches last 12+ years.

Evaluating ShoreTel VOIP and Competitors

No - I was in Telecom for over twenty years on the services side so I spent months researching the various phone systems out there before we chose to be a ShoreTel dealer.
  • Price
  • Product Features
  • Product Usability
  • Product Reputation
  • Prior Experience with the Product
  • Analyst Reports
  • Third-party Reviews
When we went into business we wanted to sell and support the best of breed products to our clients. After much research we decided that ShoreTel was what we considered best of breed for VoIP phone systems and that is the only system we offer.
We would not change anything since I am confident that our analysis was very thorough.

ShoreTel VOIP Implementation

If you have the right partner implementation should go relatively easy. If ECC is implemented then things can definitely get more challenging, especially if there is a need for integration that will need custom programming such as JD Edwards or SAP. We have taken over support for many clients who initially purchased from CDW, AT&T, CenturyLink and Windstream and were not happy with their initial installation and end user training.
Yes - 1. Phone system 2. Salesforce integration 3. SA100 Conference Bridge 4. VPN concentrator 5. SIP trunk implementation 6. Mobility
Change management was minimal
  • Before version 14 ShoreTel didn't give enough information on server set up.
  • Salesforce integration took a while and we needed to open a ticket with salesforce customer support.
  • SIP trunking was impossible using our first vendor Broadvox - we canned them and went with Etherspeak and SIP trunks were up working perfectly in 30 minutes.

ShoreTel VOIP Training

  • Online training
  • In-person training
  • Self-taught
I attended the first ShoreTel installer class in Austin,TX. It was a week of intensive study with a live lab and having hands on experience made the class worthwhile. I have taken all of the sales courses and remaining technical courses either online or self study to keep costs down. I send my techs to the first installer course in Austin as I feel it gives them a solid foundation and most of teh other courses they have taken have been online.
Content is good and teh course material fills in any areas the instructor doesn't cover. Only pet peeve is the tests always have questions for things you don't learn from the course or course materials....
The administrator course used to be 4 hours and instructor led only but is now offered as a self study course as well. We recommend that admins take the course since it is 4 hours max and gives most of the knowledge needed to do MACs.

Configuring ShoreTel VOIP

The system can scale from 1 user all the way to 20000 so the flexibility is inherent. Integration with Outlook is included and most of the UC tools are easy to deploy and use. The only instances where I have seen complexity is when we have had clients need integration with legacy mainframe applications.
Yes - we have customized the interface extensively - ShoreTel communicator can be customized by the user and by the admin. You can add extra toolbars with extra features for individuals or user groups.
Yes - we have added extensive custom code - ShoreTel is ODBC compliant and has open API's so it is relatively easy to integrate with.

ShoreTel VOIP Support

We have found that there are very few issues that are extremely hard to solve. The majority of the issues are resolved on the first call and are able to be done remotely.
ProsCons
Quick Resolution
Good followup
Knowledgeable team
Problems get solved
Kept well informed
No escalation required
Immediate help available
Support understands my problem
Support cares about my success
Quick Initial Response
None
No - We are a ShoreTel dealer so we support our own system - 100% of our clients are on Partner Support and we have a high success rate resolving the majority of our clients issues on the first call.
Yes - Yes there are occasional issues when going from one version to the next - 14.2 had a few issues and ShoreTel was quick to resolve them.
We had a client's old Intertel die on a Friday and ShoreTel made sure we had their system key on Monday morning so they would have no downtime ( we worked all weekend doing everything else that was needed!)

Using ShoreTel VOIP

ShoreTel's slogan is "Brilliantly Simple" and I think they have done a great job keeping all aspects of the system simple
ProsCons
Like to use
Relatively simple
Easy to use
Technical support not required
Well integrated
Consistent
Quick to learn
Convenient
Feel confident using
Familiar
None
  • Director - the administrative portal.
  • The phones - excellent sound quality and easy to use.
  • ShoreTel Communicator - the end users desk top call control
  • If you are on a older version 11 or earlier and want to upgrade to the latest version 14 it can be cumbersome since Windows 2003 server is no longer supported.
Yes - Great but for now but it needs an additional appliance for Mobility.

ShoreTel VOIP Reliability

ShoreTel is based on a distributed architecture so adding new users and new sites is effortless.
Call control and set up is dependent on the ShoreGear switches with fail over available if there are available resources. Redundancy is accomplished by adding extra switches (N+1), no additional licenses are needed. With 14.2 switches can now be virtualized as well which further reduces the cost of having a disaster recovery plan in place.
Clients that follow best practices and use N+1 redundancy have extremely high availability of their phone system.

Integrating ShoreTel VOIP

ShoreTel integrates with Salesforce,Netsuite, Microsoft Dynamics, ACT, Sage, AMS 360 and many others already so there are only rare instances when professional services need to be involved.
  • Salesforce
  • Netsuite
  • JD Edwards
  • IBM mainframe integration
  • Nortel
Salesforce - easy, only needs an additional one time license.
Netsuite - easy, only needs an additional one time license.
JD Edwards - 60 hours of professional services. ShoreTel has open API but was still time intensive and needed a client side and server side app to accomplish screen pop with JDE data.
IBM Mainframe - 200 hours of professional services. Screen scrape for a bank IVR.
Nortel - We front ended a Nortel system to support a gradual migration of users onto the new system while keeping everyone on teh same dial plan and voicemail.
  • Netsuite
  • GE Centricity
ShoreTel integrates out of the box (with the purchase of an additional license) with NetSuite so we will integrate it with NetSuite soon. We have numerous clients in healthcare that are looking to us to integrate their new ShoreTel systems with GE Centricity for screen pops.
  • File import/export
  • Single Signon
  • API (e.g. SOAP or REST)
  • Javascript widgets
Be clear with your vendor on what you want to accomplish ( screen pop from your ERP, screen scrape from an AS400 in an IVR,etc.) and also be clear about your environment ( VM, hyper V, terminal server).

Relationship with ShoreTel

As a ShoreTel dealer we focus on delivering the best value at the best price. We get a thorough understanding of our clients business so our proposal includes everything they need to accomplish their goals when moving to VoIP. Our sales organization focuses on value selling and avoids any high pressure sales tactics.
Post sale we use Basecamp to make sure everyone has access to the installation information and where we are in the process. Key stakeholders from our side and the client know their roles and responsibilities.
We are very competitive and have had many other companies already using ShoreTel switch to ConvergeData because of our competitive rates on post sale support contracts and labor.
We have had many clients that originally bought their ShoreTel system from CDW, Black Box, AT&T, CenturyLink and Windstream move their support to ConvergeData after their initial purchase due to dissatisfaction with their initial installation, ongoing support and outstanding issues that were never resolved.

Upgrading ShoreTel VOIP

Yes - the first 15? releases of 14.2 were challenging to say the least. We avoided moving clients to 14.2 until late October 2014 when we felt that 14.2 was free of major issues or bugs that would impact our clients.
  • The ability to virtualize hardware is the biggest benefit - the mobility router, N+1 redundant switch and Conference Bridge are the biggest areas you can save money by using a virtual appliance vs. buying the hardware.
  • SIP trunks - we use Etherspeak with no Ingate SBC
  • New 400 series phones
  • More integration readily available for CRM's, ERP's and business tools.
  • Hybrid cloud - the ability to have cloud users and premise users all connected in the same system.
No - You buy a user license and then can add functionality like tying in to Salesforce with an additional license.
Yes - This question is only relevant for Small Business Edition customers that grow past 100 users and need to upgrade to Enterprise. There is no change in the system just an upgrade cost and a new system key.