Peer to Peer Magazine

March 2011

The quarterly publication of the International Legal Technology Association

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Page 108 of 111

LESSONSLEARNED Making the Right Calls for a Successful Phone System Upgrade by Kristy Costello, IT Manager at Chuhak & Tecson PC O ur phone system was the final remaining legacy passed down to me by the firm’s previous network administrator. Implemented about eight years ago, this was a digital system that had become one of the biggest thorns in my side as the firm’s IT manager. The list of issues spanned from problems with the contract and the service provider’s support to the software’s inability to stay current and the need to keep up with Microsoft service patches. The last year of the contract became so frustrating that we tried to get released early, but a few of the firm’s litigators were involved and they decided that the fight wasn’t worth it; we stuck it out for another year. RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH My firm’s dissatisfaction with the telephone system had me looking into options a full two years prior to the expiration of our contract, which gave me an excellent opportunity to immerse myself in the technology and options available. In hindsight, I would conclude that this was the single best decision made during this process, and my recommendation to others embarking on a similar project is to do the same. This extra time allowed me to educate myself on technology I was not familiar with, research what other firms were doing and gain knowledge about what my firm required the new phone system to accomplish. I sent users a survey for feedback on what they would like to see in a new phone system. I compared phone systems used in the industry to see what was working, what wasn’t and what functionality was missing entirely. I used all resources available to me through ILTA as well 110 Peer to Peer as other professional organizations and connections. I also met with vendors and peers to get their perspectives on what a firm our size might need. Many shared what struggles they had faced before, during and after implementation and what they had learned the hard way. After acquiring all of this data I was better able to narrow my choices down to three vendors who were very well respected, provided the features our firm was interested in and were within our budget. WE HAVE A VENDOR….NOW WHAT? When the choice was made to go to a pure VoIP system, “You just have to do a gut check and make the decisions that are best for your firm.” contract negotiations were complete and implementation was in sight, I was nervous, to say the least. I’ve done many different upgrades, software implementations and build-outs, and have even helped the firm move, but this was different. This was our phone system! As is still true in most firms, our

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