IT Central Station is now PeerSpot: Here's why

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Jon Le Roi - PeerSpot reviewer
Director of IT at Mendocino Forest Products
Real User
Top 20Leaderboard
Puts everyone in the company onto a common platform, making support very easy and provided quick gains
Pros and Cons
  • "We now eFax pretty much everything. I no longer have fax machines and have to deal with paper. We had a situation where one person, specifically, would come onto a floor for a fax machine. After restocking the fax machine with paper, so that it could finish all the faxes that they got over the weekend, They would then convert all those things into PDF documents. By going to eFax, they're getting them as emails and it's already a PDF document. This saves a step, a lot of time, and effort. We are also able to provide fax machines to individuals at their desktop by having eFax. In my case, I have my phone set up to be both a phone and a fax line, so it just shows up in my email."
  • "We just had one service interruption, which was due to an upstream carrier. They sent us hourly updates, letting us know what was going on and that it was being worked on. It was down for about half a day."

How has it helped my organization?

We have been very satisfied with the solution. It was very easy for people to migrate to it, then start using it. They use it to their advantage by taking advantage of some of the features that they didn't have before. 

At the end of the day, it's a phone. It rings, then I pick it up and get a good signal. I don't have issues with the call, and it also gives me the flexibility to be able to get an email from somebody who I don't even know what city they are in. From a support standpoint, I like that I can go to my directory search through it, getting their extension to call them.

My utilization is to go through the PBX on a regular basis and add people, change people, etc. When we are setting up a new site, which we don't do that often, to make some changes there, we are able to change the dial plans when people come and go. I have yet to find something that we need to do that I can't do.

What is most valuable?

There are probably two things that get used the most: 

  1. We now eFax pretty much everything. I no longer have fax machines and have to deal with paper. We had a situation where one person, specifically, would come onto a floor for a fax machine. After restocking the fax machine with paper, so that it could finish all the faxes that they got over the weekend, They would then convert all those things into PDF documents. By going to eFax, they're getting them as emails and it's already a PDF document. This saves a step, a lot of time, and effort. We are also able to provide fax machines to individuals at their desktop by having eFax. In my case, I have my phone set up to be both a phone and a fax line, so it just shows up in my email.
  2. We use the hot desk feature a lot. We have so many locations. I actually have an office in three different cities. So, when I go to another city, I just punch in my code and the entire phone becomes my phone. All my buttons are the same. My voicemail is there. It rings at that desk, just like it does at my main desk. I like this feature better than FindMe, where it forwards to my cell phone or something else. There are just a lot of little things that go on when you are forwarding calls to an outside system.

GoToConnect’s Dial Plan Editor enables us to visually set up and organize call routing configurations quite easily. This works out well for us because each site has different requirements. No site has an attendance; they are all automated attendance. For some sites, it is strictly that the call comes in and goes to a hunt group. Other calls and other sites have everything mapped out, where it is press "one" to get to HR, press "two" to get to sales, press "three", etc. Once you get to that, then you can drill down through individuals or functions. So, it's very nice to be able to go in, look at these things, see how they are done, and provide flexibility to it as well as being able to adjust scheduling. We are all in the United States, so we all have the same holiday schedule, but some of the hours are different. Depending on the location, they may work weekends or not. They may work from 5:00 AM until 11:00 PM or 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM. So, we are able to uniquely configure all those things at each site. It has to be very flexible to do these things. It is easy to see. Like anything else, they walked us through how to create one of the more complex ones. After that, we were able to do our own and kind of manipulate it to do what we wanted from there.

The Dial Plan Editor enables us to organize call routing configurations per site. We don't have the ability to see globally. However, from a single desktop, I can look at all our sites, one at a time, which is all I need.

What needs improvement?

We just had one service interruption, which was due to an upstream carrier. They sent us hourly updates, letting us know what was going on and that it was being worked on. It was down for about half a day.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using it for a year and a half to two years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The call quality and reliability are excellent. It uses very little bandwidth.

During the initial implementation, there were a lot of questions that came up about things. My reaction to most of them was that they were very typical.

In the two years of utilizing the system, we have had one time when there was an issue with the phones. That was just recently, where the upstream carrier from GoToConnect had an issue, and it got resolved quickly. They communicated that to us quickly, letting us know, "Hey, we are seeing this problem with other customers. You may be having this problem as well." We did in some of our locations, but not all of them. Other than that, it's been extremely solid. 

We don't maintain our physical phones. They have been in place for about two years. We have had one or two that we've had to replace, but that is typically within our mills where it is kind of a harsh environment. Out of 400 phones, we may have had one or two that we had to RMA in the beginning, which is very minimal.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It is very scalable. 

We were able to roll this out to about 400 of our users, basically providing a phone everywhere that we needed one. For a company of our size, this was really easy to do without needing people onsite. It has also been extremely easy to support, even locations where we have 100 people.

People come and go, so we are not really growing the organization. We don't have any new locations or anything of that nature. We have one last site that we are in the process of putting onto the network, then that will be it. That is about 20 more phones.

How are customer service and support?

The customer support has been very responsive. If we call with a question, they are proactive in a lot of ways. For example, with the outage that we just went through, they communicated to us about what was going on and kept the communication going throughout the process.

It is important to us that we don’t have to call tech support to update our call flows. We are very self-serving in that regard. For almost anything that you want to do, if you type a question into their portal, it will take you to an excellent website that will answer the question, showing you exactly what to do step by step. That has worked out really well. There was only one time where we actually had to call and have somebody walk us through something. Like a lot of things, there were three ways to do it, and what we needed was really the best way to do something for what we wanted to accomplish. So, they were able to make a recommendation that worked for us. This has given us the ability to provide some functionality that we never had before.

How would you rate customer service and support?

Positive

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

Our experience was that we had a mixture of things. We have multiple locations. I had ShoreTel in about four or five locations, Cisco in one location, and NEC in about four locations. We had had a couple of others that were just kind of off-the-wall situations. So, we wanted to put them all onto a single solution and do everything voice over IP. We started looking at the process, as we were doing on-prem equipment prior to that. By going to GoToConnect, we determined that by dropping all the on-prem equipment and annual maintenance, getting rid of all our SIP trunks, and migrating all our lines, i.e., the expenses we were paying to AT&T and the various carriers, we saved about $150,000 that first year. That sustained going forward. The initial savings included some things that were a one-time deal, but going forward, it still equates to over six figures in savings annually.

How was the initial setup?

GoToConnect’s unified collaboration platform can be deployed in one day. Because we were deploying the phones to desktops and removing the old equipment, we did that all in one day at each location. The way that we did it was that we had everything prepped. The phones were all set up and we had them on the desk with the old phones. Then, when they would port the numbers, it was about a 15-minute process, which was super easy.

The process was low impact. Some of our locations don't have IT support. Quite frankly, I only have IT people physically in three out of a dozen locations. Unfortunately, none of us had to go to Hawaii to install the equipment there. We were able to set everything up, get it ready, and ship the equipment to them. They just plugged it in and away they went.

We have gone through implementing this solution in multiple sites. Everything has been very smooth and easy to do, even when all we have done is shift boxes of phones to people that are preconfigured. People plug them in and they work. So, we may have cheated by plugging them in first, then verifying they work, but I have no complaints and really no recommendations on how I would change it. 

We picked a medium-sized location and implemented it with them. Then, we walked through all the configuration things that we had with it, working all those out. There were a couple of things that didn't work, which took us just a few minutes to figure out. Some of them were as simple as the user had turned their phone on to "Do not disturb" and couldn't figure out why they weren't getting calls. We did that implementation with about 20 phones, letting it run for a couple of weeks without issue. We validated the call quality and quality of the phones, got user acceptance of it, and then we rolled it out from there.

After the initial implementation, the big issue that caused us to do one site per month had everything to do with the fact that a lot of them were with a single carrier, and the carrier would not allow you to do multiple sites at the same time. So, if we were coming from AT&T, I couldn't do three different AT&T locations at once when we did the implementation. We did do a couple in one month that were from other carriers, but it was mostly just about our comfort level with being able to get the phones, get them on people's desks, and prepare them for the migration, then pick a day, if there was an issue, that wouldn't bring everything to its knees. We typically did the implementations on a Wednesday morning.

What about the implementation team?

We had a really good support team as we rolled it out. We did it by choosing one location at a time, doing kind of a proof of concept for about three weeks, and then rolling it out to all the other locations. We did all our locations, except for one, within the first eight to nine months. The only reason that we held off on the last location was because we only had T1 equipment in that location. It took two and a half years to get fiber in there. We are just now moving them to GoToConnect.

We had a dedicated account manager and team who assisted us with everything that we needed to do, which for the most part was really just coordinating the porting of the numbers and making sure that the phones that we wanted arrived on location in a timely fashion so we could assemble them. We elected to do the work ourselves, assembling the phones and making sure that we had power over Ethernet switches in place to provide power to the phones. Or, in a handful of locations, we provided power bricks to the phones.

The team was excellent to work with. They provided wonderful communication, making sure that we were successful in getting each site up and running as planned.

Typically, one to two people were involved in the deployment process. One person onsite and another person remotely available to assist with any kind of technical issues. These were not necessarily IT people who were on site. It was just somebody that you could count on who could follow instructions on how to plug a cable into the back of a phone and get it into the right ports that you have identified. GoToConnect provided all the right pictures so we could show them how to do it.

What was our ROI?

We are no longer supporting four separate disparate systems that are out of date.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

In our case, pricing was all about being able to justify it easily. We showed that going from what we had in place with on-premises to a hosted voice over IP would save us quite a bit of money. So, we negotiated hard. They tossed in equipment and some other things to sweeten the pot for us. On an ongoing basis, it is an expense, but it is a cheaper expense than what we were paying monthly for what we had. We have better quality, and more importantly, we have everyone on the same system.

There are just a number of things that we use on a regular basis that we just didn't have before. What we do is not overly complex, because we don't have massive call routing, huge call centers, etc. The way that we use the system, it does everything that we need it to do. It also does it at a very affordable price with good quality.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

RingCentral was the big one. AT&T offered their own version of RingCentral, so we were looking at their solution as well. Most of them tried to come up with different combinations of, "Well, we can lease you the equipment and we won't charge you the lease fee for the first three years." However, from a price standpoint, the GoToConnect solution made more sense to us. It provided bigger savings. They had a really solid team that impressed us with the migration process of porting numbers and installing the equipment.

They sweetened the pot for us by throwing in all of the phones, whether they were desk phones or conference room phones, at no charge. As we were comparing other solutions, like RingCentral, this made it a little easier to go with their solution. It also additionally included GoToMeeting. Those things added to the decision to move forward with them.

What other advice do I have?

Spend the time up front, working with your implementation team and support team, to identify how you expect to utilize the system and the advantages that you will get out of it, then go from there. It is all planning, then communicating to your team about scheduling and how it will work. Identify the handful of benefits of going to this system, as people are reluctant for change. 

The way that we have our network configured, pretty much every site has a redundant ISP. So, our routers handle that for us. If the service is either very poor or drops all together, then it automatically routes us to the better servers that we have.

We have yet to find something that we needed to do and the solution couldn't handle it. GoToConnect is a very solid product. Going into the administration, adding people, configuring eFax, configuring dial plans, and setting up new hardware is all very solid from a management perspective. I don't really have an issue with any of it.

I rate it a 10 out of 10, because it puts us all onto a common platform. It made the support very easy and provided quick gains.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

Public Cloud

If public cloud, private cloud, or hybrid cloud, which cloud provider do you use?

Other
Disclosure: PeerSpot contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
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