Investing In Unified Communications

Evaluating the Total Cost of Ownership for AVST CallXpress using case study examples..

.Investing in your communication infrastructure affects your business in three ways: employee productivity, customer service, and dollar cost. Like any IT investment, communication systems directly impact your bottom line.A unified communications system can provide quick and ongoing returns on your investment. Through improved message management and real-time call completion, a technology-based solution can be a competitive advantage to your organization. Benefits such as increased employee productivity and improved customer service support strategic goals of your organization, but at what cost? To fully understand the business value of an investment, you should understand the benefits, risks and costs.

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As defined by the Gartner, Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) is the total of IT costs over time. Costs associated with an IT investment include capital investment, license fees, leasing costs and service fees, as well as direct (budgeted) and indirect (unbudgeted) labour expenses. TCO attempts to capture all of the costs on an IT investment throughout the asset’s life. Then, costs are annualised to normalize labour and capital costs.When evaluating a new system purchase, total cost of ownership is an important factor, but due to complexity, it’s often hard to calculate and compare between vendors. The return on investment depends on the system’s increase to productivity and revenues, as well as its cost.

This white paper focuses on the total cost of ownership for AVST CallXpress®. We believe the information will be helpful to any organization looking to replace or purchase a new unified communications or voice messaging system. This paper will provide you with insight into the real costs of CallXpress, as well as specific factors for comparison to other solutions on the market.In order to provide you with concrete examples of the points in this white paper, we will reference the experiences of a real-life AVST customer throughout this document. The customer is Epicor Software Corporation (“Epicor”), a leader in ERP, CRM and SCM software solutions with more than 1,500 employees.

The quotations were provided by Arline Breslin, Director of Telecommunications at Epicor®. They currently have 12 CallXpress systems in offices throughout North America. Epicor has worked closely with Advanced Call Processing, an authorized AVST Reseller. UNIFIED COMMUNICATIONS FOR THE 21ST CENTURYAs you evaluate unified communication solutions, there are a number of important questions to answer regarding Total Cost of Ownership. For each key area listed below, the following questions will help in the development of a Total Cost of Ownership analysis.TODAY’S REQUIREMENTSWhat are your business communication needs now?How do vendors measure when it comes to basic call processing and voice messaging?Has investment protection been a priority for the vendor?There is an expectation of parity with your current voice messaging system.

You need a stable voice mail system that is easy to use and administer. Your organization is accustomed to high service levels, and your business cannot risk system downtime.AVST CallXpress has a strong history with voice messaging and call processing. CallXpress is a third-generation messaging system with over 20 years in the marketplace. Since 1982, AVST has provided an upgrade path for CallXpress customers. CallXpress has had one set of commands and user interface for the last 22 years.

Each major release of the base software code (in 1990 and 2001) was made to take advantage of new advances in operating systems. Each time, great care was taken to maintain the feature set currently supported, while adding significant capabilities. This allows the latest version of CallXpress to have the most extensive set of features and capabilities available anywhere, while maintaining its leadership and “freshness”. There is no competitive system available currently that supports the breadth and depth of features, applications and flexibility found in CallXpress.New Customer Expectations: Staying Responsive in a World of Increased CommunicationsCan the solution meet your company’s needs today and into the future? Fast, dependable communication is essential for your business to stay competitive.

Over the years, technology has introduced new ways for customers to communicate: e-mail, fax and voice messaging. However, all of these systems stand alone. Managing disparate systems impacts a company’s productivity. In any organization, workers spend an increasing amount of time just accessing messages. In addition, the pace of business has increased, and customers expect instant results or they may take their business elsewhere.CallXpress unified communication solutions permit real-time communications, which speeds response times and allows workers to remain accessible.

With CallXpress message management capabilities, your employees can use a single device to manage all message types: voice, fax, and e-mail messages. As a result, employees can reduce their time spent managing messages by 50%.”CallXpress has increased our employee productivity approximately 7-8% per business unit, because our employees can now manage voice, fax and e-mail messages at one time. CallXpress has also helped us speed our response time to our customers by 5-10%. But there’s a bigger issue, and that is customer service. CallXpress has helped us to save our customers time, which has increased our customer satisfaction.

” Arline Breslin, Epicor.Is the application flexible enough to meet user demands cost-effectively?AVST CallXpress allows user-by-user activation of the unified messaging feature set. Users on a single server can be activated with a different feature set. Some users can be designated for voice mail only, while others can use full unified messaging, while still others utilize some form of partial unified messaging. You can assign the services according to individual needs.Organizations using AVST CallXpress do not need additional servers for each different population of users.

Voice mail and unified messaging users can reside on the same server, which reduces your overall capital costs and ongoing maintenance. In addition, the seat license cost is only for desktop unified messaging, and only those users requiring desktop messaging need to purchase the license. There is no additional cost for voice mailboxes with CallXpress.”Some of our users are designated for voice mail only, while others use full unified messaging. We don’t have to pay for those using voice mail.

” Arline Breslin, Epicor.Is the vendor focused on delivering enterprise communications?Can the system grow with my business?CallXpress is designed to meet customers’ current communications requirements with a clearly defined product roadmap for the future. Technology leadership in the enterprise communications market has been, and will continue to be, the core objective of AVST. Modular capabilities such as speech-driven menus, call completion, interactive voice response, and notification can be added or simply activated when the need arises in your organization.As your organization grows, CallXpress can scale to 144 voice ports and thousands of messaging users.

“When we were investigating alternative systems, we found they had limitations on port size. With CallXpress, when we add a new user, we don’t need to update systems. We have 12 systems, and a typical system for us is 12 ports.” Arline Breslin, Epicor.Identifying the Real Costs of Owning a Unified Messaging SystemThe easiest calculation in the cost of unified communications is the core upfront cost. However, some vendors’ packaging approach can make “apple-to-apple” comparisons difficult.

As you drill down into a solution, these questions will assist you in effectively comparing alternative solutions.How much will it cost for your network to support unified messaging?Does the system architecture economize server requirements, or does it require server farms to support the application?Are industry standards used?How much does it cost to add voicemail capacity or call routing menus?Are there additional charges for voice mailboxes?Can unified messaging be licensed to only those individuals requiring advanced functionality?Can a phased replacement approach be utilized without losing networking capabilities or must it be a “flash” cutover?”We now have 12 systems in offices all over North America, from Canada to the U.S. to Mexico. We took a phased approach to installation, cutting over the phone and unified messaging system at the same time. We tackled one or two locations per month over a six-month period.

” Arline Breslin, Epicor.InfrastructureA unified communications solution brings together systems that were once disparate. The CallXpress Telephony server is a network application interfacing with groupware applications and your phone system.There are a number of areas in which CallXpress provides higher functionality with a much lower impact within an enterprise’s environment when compared with competitive systems. These include:• CallXpress supports five different compression codecs for message storage. Each provides different file sizes and different voice quality for recorded messages.

This allows customers to select the file sizes that best fit into their unique environments.• As voice messages are received for unified messaging users, they are moved from the CallXpress server into the user’s e-mail inbox data store. As this happens, a non-indexed cached copy of the message is maintained on the CallXpress server. The total size of this cache is completely programmable from 1 – 500 MB. When a unified messaging user requests a voice message to be played over the telephone, the system first checks the on-server cache to determine if the message is still contained there. If it is, CallXpress plays the voice message from the cache rather than having to move it from the e-mail server to CallXpress to be played.

This attribute alone has been shown to reduce unified messaging LAN traffic by 50% or more. The maintenance of this message cache is an exclusive feature of CallXpress.”We have not had a single instance of LAN traffic from CallXpress slowing down the system.” Arline Breslin, Epicor.• While providing unmatched functionality, CallXpress is very non-invasive into the e-mail environment. CallXpress does not become another e-mail server joining the current e-mail domain.

There is not an instance of Microsoft® Exchange (or Lotus Domino®, Novell GroupWise®, etc.) installed on the CallXpress server. For implementations into an Exchange or Domino environment, a normal domain user account is created for the CallXpress server, and that account is given access to the users’ mailboxes. This allows CallXpress to open users’ e-mail mailboxes, process messages, move them to other folders, and send messages on behalf of the user. From the perspective of the e-mail server, CallXpress unified messaging is nothing more than a single, very active user.

For IMAP e-mail environments (such as GroupWise), the CallXpress server utilizes the subscriber’s normal e-mail account to access his inbox on the e-mail server. “Integration with Microsoft Exchange was one of our top requirements when we were searching for a solution, because we have so many mobile employees. CallXpress integrates nicely with Microsoft Outlook®. Now, our travelling sales and consulting staff don’t have to dial in for voice mail messages; they live on their laptops with e-mail open. Once we rolled it out to our internal support and external support centre, the Outlook integration has really helped us improve our internal communication and external customer service.

” Arline Breslin, Epicor.Core System CostsAVST CallXpress offers system architecture and software packaging that saves money up-front, and provides savings over the life of the system.Server PlatformCallXpress utilizes single-server architecture for many configurations. A multi-application architecture leveraging a single server saves significant dollars over the life of the system.The server platform recommended by AVST is industry standard, and we recommend that you source a server platform to secure the most competitive price.

The CallXpress server only requires Microsoft Windows® Server 2003. (Windows 2000 Server, Windows 2000 Professional and Windows XP are also supported in certain configurations.)A typical server configuration:• Xeon™ 3.2GHz CPU• 1 GB RAM• 18 GB hard drive• Color VGA-compliant graphics adapter and monitor• CD or DVD drive and 3.5 inch disk drive• Network Interface Card• Remote connectivity through TCP/IP or Windows 2000-compliant external modem and dedicated RS-232 serial (COM) port• One USB port• Microsoft Windows Server 2003There are four applications that may require a separate server: speech, fax, networking and Interactive Voice Response.

Server LicenseAVST CallXpress is packaged with a server license based upon ports. The server license includes voice mail, auto attendant, up to five languages enabled, 100 unified messaging seats, one text-to-speech channel, one channel of RightFax™, and one year of software upgrades. There is not an additional charge for voice mailboxes. Additional unified messaging seats can be purchased in packages of 25.With CallXpress, you will receive all new major and minor software releases in your first year of ownership included with the initial software license purchase.

Voice and Fax BoardsCall and fax processing utilizes industry-standard voice cards and fax boards. In addition, the resources of a single port are all that is required for a single call, regardless of call type. For example, when a fax call is received, it is moved to a single fax port on the fax server, freeing the port that originally received the call to handle other calls. CallXpress speech applications also only require a single port.”We did choose to add RightFax, and it’s been an excellent tool.

We have decreased the number of fax machines in the company by 60%, not to mention the cost for the calls for outgoing faxes. Employees appreciate receiving faxes right in e-mail.” Arline Breslin, Epicor.IntegrationsAVST offers customers a choice in integrations. AVST CallXpress integrates with over 250 PBX and IP switches.

There is no need to change out PBXs. For customers moving to IP or a new switch standard, CallXpress supports dual integrations. In addition, many of our IP integrations do not require hardware for voice or call processing.”Due to the many acquisitions and mergers of our company, we had 12 offices and only six of them had the phone system we had decided upon. With CallXpress, regardless of the PBX, the callers and users are greeted with a standard interface.

” Arline Breslin, Epicor.Cost of System Administration Can all systems be managed using a single interface? From a single location?What type of expertise is required to manage the system?Is there duplication in the management of mailboxes?Your organization may have multiple sites. With CallXpress Global User Administration, a single administrator can manage all sites from a single location. This allows organizations to manage multiple systems quickly and cost-effectively.CallXpress simplifies user administration.

CallXpress optionally leverages Active Directory® to create user mailboxes. Using an Active Directory snap-in, all users can be created from within Active Directory.Messaging is mission critical. AVST CallXpress does not require a different process for system notifications. Using SNMP, CallXpress leverages existing notification packages such as HP OpenView to receive notifications just like any other network application.”We have 12 CallXpress systems scattered around North America, and they are managed by myself and two technicians from the Irvine headquarters.

Since CallXpress is Windows-based, the network people are not afraid to touch it. Previously, with a proprietary system, or even OS/2, they were leery of working on the systems. ” Arline Breslin, Epicor.Cost of TrainingHow much time will be spent training new users?The CallXpress user interface offers a “Ready, Set, Go” user tutorial for new users. The tutorial guides a new user through the set-up process, which greatly reduces training and set-up time.

Unified Messaging at the desktop uses the familiar e-mail icons, commands, and “clicks” for all message types. Employees familiar with e-mail can now manage voice and fax messages with the same tool.CallXpress also offers PhoneManager™ from the desktop within an e-mail application, as a standalone application, or via a web interface. This intuitive, easy-to-use application makes managing user settings much easier than strictly relying on the telephone.The Telephone User Interface uses the same commands to handle a voice, fax, or e-mail message.

For users moving from an Octel® Aria system, AVST offers a telephone user interface emulation. The same commands used on the Octel Aria can be used on the CallXpress system.”Training is a piece of cake. The on-line tutorial walks users through how to set up their voice mail. For new hires, there is a one-page handout, and we never have to train them. I thought they’d be calling for help all the time, but they don’t.

The system is absolutely easy to use.” Arline Breslin, Epicor.The Cost of Supporting a Local LanguageDo you have to pay a premium to support different languages?Providing the same service level to users who don’t speak English often requires additional modules or development. CallXpress supports up to 5 different languages on a single system at no additional cost. Each CallXpress server license includes our comprehensive language CD, allowing the system administrator to select the available languages for the CallXpress system.

“We have two languages enabled, Spanish and English. That way we can cover all our offices in North America.” Arline Breslin, Epicor.Cost of Supporting TelecommutersIs your liability increased by promoting cell phone communications?Are you deploying multiple devices to provide access to e-mail?Mobile employees work in automobiles, airports, customer locations and home offices. Each of these environments can be unpredictable: Is an Internet connection available? Are there time and space limitations? There are many new challenges when working outside the corporate office.

CallXpress provides an economical way to provide remote access to voice, fax, and e-mail messages. In all of these environments, the telephone is ubiquitous. Using a fixed or wireless telephone, users can listen to e-mail messages and forward fax or e-mail (with attachments) to any fax machine. A fax machine becomes a low-cost remote printer. If employees travel to areas with dial-up connections only, CallXpress becomes a fast, low-cost alternative to accessing and responding to all messages.Safety concerns and bans on cell phone use in cars are on the rise.

With CallXpress Speech, using only voice commands, users can access messages, place calls, respond to e-mail, and return calls. All done safely, in a hands-free environment.”CallXpress has saved us an astronomical amount of money in cellular airtime charges. Our sales consultants were calling in every 15-20 minutes to check messages, and now they don’t have to. They get all their messages via e-mail or automated notification.

” Arline Breslin, Epicor.Cost of DocumentationIs documentation provided on-line?How much will user documentation cost?Surprisingly, manuals and guides can add up to a substantial cost. Not only the physical cost of the documents, but also taking into account the cost of ordering and distributing them, and a support staff to understand them.AVST CallXpress reduces this cost in a number of ways. CallXpress includes comprehensive on-line help.

The manuals are provided on a documentation CD that can be printed on demand. In addition, AVST provides PDF versions of user guides and quick reference tools that can be posted to an Intranet.The Cost for Adds, Moves, and Changes.How many systems must be updated when a new user is added?In calculating the total cost of ownership, ongoing adds, moves, and changes should be figured into the calculation. Each year, a business will move, add, or change 5% of its users on average.

AVST CallXpress is designed to make these changes simple and efficient.CallXpress uses a single point of administration for all users, including voice mail only and unified messaging across multiple locations. Using a familiar Windows application, minimal training is required for the system administrator.”The daily maintenance, such as adds, moves, and changes are handled by two technicians and one telecom analyst here at the Irvine headquarters. Those three staff members and I administer all 12 systems.

” Arline Breslin, Epicor.In addition, several options are available for adding new users to CallXpress. Users can be added through Active Directory or through some PBX administration programs.There most likely will come a time when storage needs to be added. With CallXpress, you can simply add more storage by installing a larger hard drive.

There are no software fees or limitations when adding storage.The Cost of Software MaintenanceIs it easy to budget for ongoing software upgrades?How costly is it to stay compatible with groupware and fax applications?Do you receive local on-site support?The importance of software maintenance increases with a unified communications solution. Compatibility with other network applications is vital. You will also want to maintain your software so you can take advantage of performance-enhancing new functionality for users. How easy will it be to accurately budget for software upgrades? AVST CallXpress provides a unique offer. All CallXpress software includes one year of software upgrades and updates.

At point of sale, you will have the option of pre-purchasing software protection up to a total of three years. With CallXpress, it is easy to budget for subsequent years, and you are assured that you will stay within budget. There are no hidden costs and you know exactly what it will take to keep your system running at maximum efficiency.AVST sells through a channel of Authorized Resellers. Each reseller is required to maintain a staff of technicians certified by AVST.

Our program includes ongoing training for each product version. Working locally with a reseller provides you with responsive and knowledgeable support whenever you need it.”We specifically looked for a system to cut down on maintenance and service costs. CallXpress has definitely lowered them. We also have XpressCare™, which makes it easier to budget for software upgrades.

It’s nice to be able to pull up the actual payments and correctly forecast the future budget.” Arline Breslin, Epicor.Calculating your Total Cost of OwnershipIn preparing a Total Cost of Ownership analysis for a unified communications system, the following should be taken into consideration:1. Purchase and pre-installation designa. Software priceb. Hardware price c.

System designd. Data collection2. Installation and configurationa. Hardware installationb. Software installc. System configurationd.

Network addressing and set-upe. Training and support personnelf. Integration into existing directory system3. Ongoing operationsa. Help deskb. Data entryc.

System administrationd. System capacity and software upgradesUnderstanding the true cost of ownership of a unified communications system reveals vast differences between product offers on the market today. In your evaluation of a unified messaging solution, preparing a total cost of ownership analysis provides an effective comparison of the capital expenses, staffing, and application costs along with the benefits.”CallXpress has definitely helped us cut costs. We have experienced a 16-month payback period, so I believe the ROI would be around 70-80%, very high.” Arline Breslin, Epicor.AVST provides additional information to assist in developing your TCO analysis.