4-page Case Study - Posted 9/30/2009
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Medical Company Increases Efficiency, Looks to Reduce Travel and PBX Costs
DynaLIFEDx is a Canadian healthcare company that provides laboratory, consulting, and management services. Previously, employees relied on phone calls and e-mail for most communications and lacked conferencing tools. An ongoing transition to an IP Private Branch Exchange (PBX) system was expensive and slow. With help from Long View Systems, a Microsoft® Gold Certified Partner, DynaLIFEDx deployed Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 R2 and Microsoft Exchange Server 2007. Now, employees can access software-powered voice over IP and unified e-mail, voice-mail, presence, instant messaging, and conferencing tools. Employees communicate more efficiently, and in the future the company can increase its training offerings while spending less money and time on travel. DynaLIFEDx also has the option to eliminate the PBXs at its branch offices, which could save up to U.S.$55,000 annually.
DynaLIFEDx provides diagnostic laboratory testing to more than 2,000 physicians and companies throughout Canada, performing about 14 million tests annually. Headquartered in Edmonton, Alberta, and employing about 1,000 people, the company also operates 35 patient-care centers, some serving remote indigenous populations. In addition, DynaLIFEDx provides management and consulting services to regional health authorities, hospitals, and other public and private healthcare entities in Canada.
||With Office Communications Server 2007 R2, we have the option of eliminating the PBXs at our branch locations, which could save about $55,000 annually.
Director of IT
employees must communicate frequently with colleagues, external partners, and patients about test results and medical diagnoses; many of these communications are time-sensitive. Previously, the company used the telephone and e-mail as its main communications tools. It also used a third-party voice-mail service, but the service did not provide missed-call notifications, and users had to dial in to retrieve messages, which slowed response time. A limited number of employees used public instant messaging (IM) services, but DynaLIFEDx
restricted access to these services out of concern for network security and the confidentiality of medical records.
Because the company’s previous communications solution did not include video conferencing features, DynaLIFEDx incurred significant travel costs related to training and meetings for employees in the company’s numerous remote locations. Also, the solution’s proprietary telephone auto attendant required support from a third-party telephone company. As a result, it was cumbersome and time-consuming to make changes to listings or call routing.
In 2006, as the company’s call center expanded, DynaLIFEDx found that it was outgrowing its Mitel SX-200 Private Branch Exchange (PBX) telephone system. The company began transitioning to a Mitel 3300 IP-PBX for its approximately 350 telephone handsets.
Although the new PBX met the company’s basic telephony needs, purchasing compatible equipment for all 350 extensions would have been extremely expensive. “It costs about U.S.$1,000 to license and equip each new user with an IP handset,” says Matt Gillespie, Director of IT at DynaLIFEDx. “We were only budgeting $46,000 per year for the transition, so it was going to take several years to finish. In the meantime, we were experiencing downtime and other compatibility issues between the two PBXs and the voice-mail system. Once the transition was completed, all that this solution was going to provide was a dial tone—it wasn’t going to provide any new conferencing or other collaboration tools.”
DynaLIFEDx wanted a scalable solution that would provide software-powered voice over IP (VoIP) and video conferencing. The company was also interested in learning about additional communications tools that could enhance collaboration and streamline business processes. In addition, the new solution needed to integrate with the company’s two existing PBXs.
DynaLIFEDx decided to deploy a unified communications solution based on Microsoft® Office Communications Server 2007 and Microsoft Office Communicator 2007. For assistance with the deployment, the company selected Long View Systems, an Alberta-based Microsoft Gold Certified Partner specializing in unified communications solutions. Long View is also a Microsoft Large Account Reseller (LAR) and Enterprise Software Advisor.
Jason Shave, Lead for the Long View Systems Server Infrastructure Services Practice, was not surprised that DynaLIFEDx selected the Microsoft solution. “In my opinion, there is no other unified communications technology that can compete with Office Communications Server 2007, especially in the case of a company that is already using Microsoft Office applications, such as DynaLIFEDx.”
The project began in September 2008, and integration with the PBXs was completed in October. The project team also installed Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 and deployed its Unified Messaging server role and telephone auto-attendant feature. By December 2008, DynaLIFEDx had rolled out the solution’s communications and collaboration tools to a pilot group of about 150 employees. In January 2009, the company upgraded to Office Communications Server 2007 R2 and Office Communicator 2007 R2.
||In the future, by using Office Communications Server 2007 R2 conferencing tools, not only could we avoid the cost of sending employees somewhere, but we could also keep those employees engaged in productive work.
Director of IT
With the new solution, DynaLIFEDx
employees can view rich presence information about their coworkers, such as whether someone is on a call, in a meeting, or available to collaborate. Users can initiate IM conversations and phone calls—or escalate to video conferences—at the click of a button. And because the solution integrates with Office applications, DynaLIFEDx
employees can access these features from within the applications they use every day.
Integration with the company’s Active Directory® service provides users with “look up by name” functionality, and intelligent routing can connect calls to whatever device or devices a user specifies. Integration between Office Communications Server 2007 R2 and the Exchange Server 2007 auto-attendant feature extends this functionality to external callers as well. Users receive voice-mail messages and missed-call notifications in their e-mail inboxes, which they can access from their workstations, portable computers, and mobile phones.
DynaLIFEDx also deployed a Microsoft RoundTable™ conferencing and collaboration device. With a RoundTable device, which has a 360-degree camera, employees who join meetings remotely can see and hear other attendees as if they were in the same conference room. During Web conferences with RoundTable and Office Communications Server 2007 R2, participants can exchange documents and meeting notes, watch media files, view live whiteboard displays, share applications and desktops, and record the meeting for later review.
Gillespie says that Long View was a valuable partner on the deployment. “Long View consultants were very accommodating and meshed well with my own staff,” he says. “We worked as a team to come up with creative responses to any problems we encountered.”
DynaLIFEDx expects to deploy the solution to its remaining 200 users by September 2009. The company is also considering integrating the solution with its Microsoft Dynamics® CRM software to provide call-center employees with easy access to company records on callers.
By using the Microsoft unified communications solution, DynaLIFEDx employees are communicating more efficiently and improving their productivity. In the future, conferencing would make it possible for workers in remote offices to attend training without losing time or money on travel. The new collaboration tools also streamline help-desk support. In addition, the migration to IM with Office Communications Server 2007 R2 has reduced network security vulnerabilities. In addition, DynaLIFEDx has the option of eliminating the PBXs at its branch locations, which could save $55,000 annually.
More Efficient Communications
The presence awareness feature in Office Communications Server 2007 R2 simplifies locating collaboration partners, which saves time and reduces frustration. “Before, if someone’s door was closed, coworkers didn’t always know if that person was really busy or might be available to talk,” says Gillespie. “Now, with Office Communications Server 2007 R2, they can just check that person’s presence status without even leaving their desks.”
The fast communications that the new solution supports can help projects move forward, even when a collaboration partner’s presence status shows that he or she is busy. “When people are in a meeting or on the phone, they still might be able to answer quick questions over IM,” says Gillespie. “With the Office Communications Server 2007 R2 solution, work doesn’t have to be put on hold until someone’s meeting or call is over.”
The result, Gillespie explains, is an overall increase in productivity. “Sending an IM is much quicker than getting up and walking over to a coworker’s desk, especially someone who works in a different part of the building or at a far-off company location. With its fast, intuitive communications tools, Office Communications Server 2007 R2 helps our employees accomplish more.”
Reduced Travel Costs
With the new solution’s Web and video conferencing features, DynaLIFEDx can continue to provide high-quality training to its employees who work in remote locations—without the expenses of travel and lost time. “Employees spend up to two workdays traveling to and from some of our branch offices,” says Gillespie. “In the future, by using Office Communications Server 2007 R2 conferencing tools, not only could we avoid the cost of sending employees somewhere, but we could also keep those employees engaged in productive work.”
Gillespie points out that, before the new solution, costs sometimes limited the number of training sessions or meetings that DynaLIFEDx could hold. “With Office Communications Server 2007 R2 conferencing tools, we will be able to increase the level of face-to-face interactions not only within our company but also with customers and partners―and at a fraction of the cost of actually traveling there,” he says. “We can also be sure that all of the right people are in attendance, not just the ones that we can afford to send on the trip.”
||The presence of public IM services in a network increases exposure to attack. Moving our users to IM with Office Communications Server 2007 R2 makes our environment more secure.
Director of IT
Easier IT Support and Telephony Administration
The new solution reduces workloads for DynaLIFEDx IT employees and offers tools that help them support users more easily, regardless of location. Gillespie explains that the desktop-sharing function in Office Communications Server 2007 R2 is particularly useful. “For example, if one user is new to setting up video conferences, another user who is more familiar with the process can use desktop sharing to show how it is done,” says Gillespie. “By providing tools that help users help each other, Office Communications Server 2007 R2 saves our IT support workers a lot of time.”
When users do need help from DynaLIFEDx IT staff, desktop sharing makes it easy for workers at the company’s head office to support users at other locations. “When employees have questions, it is much more efficient for us to use the desktop-sharing feature in Office Communications Server 2007 R2 than phone calls or e-mail messages,” says Gillespie. “Also, when we are able to show people how to do something, as opposed to just explaining it, they tend to retain it better. The results are increased user comfort with the technology and fewer repeat calls to the help desk.”
Also, the new solution’s telephone auto-attendant feature is easier to administer than the third-party auto attendant that DynaLIFEDx was using. “With our old auto attendant, changing listings or rerouting call paths required assistance from the telephone company that supports our PBX and was very time-consuming,” says Gillespie. “Now, with Office Communications Server 2007 R2 and Exchange Server 2007, we can make any necessary changes ourselves, quickly and easily.”
One change the company has already made was to combine the company’s three main incoming numbers into one and use the auto attendant to answer all calls. Gillespie expects that this will improve the satisfaction of customers or partners who are trying to reach employees in the DynaLIFEDx head office, where a receptionist used to route all incoming calls. “With Office Communications Server 2007 R2 and Exchange Server 2007,” says Gillespie, “callers can be connected right away instead of having to wait for a receptionist to connect them.”
Improved Network Security
Operational and security controls in Office Communications Server 2007 R2 make it easier for the IT Department to protect DynaLIFEDx from malicious code attacks in incoming messages. In addition to encryption of IM conversations, security features include the ability to block messages from specific domains or users, disable hyperlinks in IM messages, and block attachments with certain file extensions.
“The presence of public IM services in a network increases exposure to attack,” says Gillespie. “Moving our users to IM with Office Communications Server 2007 R2 makes our environment more secure.”
Cost Savings and Improved Flexibility
Although the new solution is currently deployed at only two company locations, Gillespie is considering further deployments at the company’s 35 patient-care centers. “With Office Communications Server 2007 R2, we have the option of eliminating the PBXs at our branch locations, which could save about U.S.$55,000 annually,” he says. Gillespie is also pleased that with software-powered VoIP DynaLIFEDx could be able to expand its call center without first securing a larger facility. “We’re considering using Office Communications Server 2007 R2 so that some of our call-center employees can work from home or from another company location,” he says. “That would give us a lot more flexibility than we had before.”
But Gillespie says the new solution is already proving its worth. “The most important benefit of the Microsoft solution is the way it streamlines our business processes and operations. Office Communications Server 2007 R2 makes it easy to get the information you need, when you need it, with whatever tools best fit the situation. It simplifies almost everything our company does.”
For More Information
For more information about Microsoft products and services, call the Microsoft Sales Information Center at (800) 426-9400. In Canada, call the Microsoft Canada Information Centre at (877) 568-2495. Customers in the United States and Canada who are deaf or hard-of-hearing can reach Microsoft text telephone (TTY/TDD) services at (800) 892-5234. Outside the 50 United States and Canada, please contact your local Microsoft subsidiary. To access information using the World Wide Web, go to:
For more information about Long View Systems products and services, call (403) 515-6900 or visit the Web site at:
For more information about DynaLIFEDx products and services, call (780) 451-3702 or visit the Web site at:
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Document published September 2009