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VoIP Phone System Brings Exquisite Communications Makeover to MANA Products
By George Alexandrou, VP & CIO, Mana Products
I joined MANA Products, a New York City-based cosmetics manufacturing company, three years ago as the VP & CIO. MANA is one of the world’s leading contract and private label cosmetics manufacturers, creating color cosmetics, skincare, and hair care products for the prestige and mass markets for over 40 years.
With rapidly-growing workforce of over 1,000 employees, MANA had an old AVAYA Analog hosted-PBX phone system when I joined. Even though the system was working well at the time, it was an outdated system that was presenting numerous issues. It was expensive to maintain, and parts and components were often unavailable. Additionally, it lacked redundancy and offered no collaboration tools.
I knew I needed a phone system that offered first-rate call management and mobility, increased productivity, and low-cost scalability. However, our legacy Avaya Analog PBX did not provide any of these needs. Altogether, MANA was spending more than $100,000 per year for calls, T1 lines and maintenance.
I was determined to cut costs and implement the latest technologies to bring the company’s communications more in-line with the business’ rate of growth. I looked at Cisco, Avaya, and Verizon but found them all to be too expensive.
I chose 3CX’s Unified Communications solution for its superb value proposition, cheap maintenance, and rich feature set. Initially, since we did not have an immediate need for a new phone system, my team wanted a system that would help them learn more about VoIP technologies. We first deployed 3CX in January 2016 as a trial run after being convinced by a free evaluation as well as by the incredible ease of installation and management, affordability, and user-friendliness. For one of MANA’s Network Engineers, a day spent reviewing the 3CX product was all it took for him to be able to pass the 3CX Certification Exam.
Elegant Installation and Deployment
Installation was neat and simple, with the help of 3CX Partner. Since the solution is software-based and runs on standard operating systems no special training was required for administrators.
3CX provisioned Mana’s 200 SNOM desktop and Conference rooms phones automatically, and configured the company’s 6 lines in minutes.
We are currently evaluating an additional third location for a 3CX Failover system, for even greater redundancy
Plug-ins for Outlook and other business software were installed seamlessly. The 3CX PBX primary system was installed internally on the company’s existing VMware cloud, thus incurring no additional costs for implementation of additional infrastructure or machines. A 3CX Failover system was also installed in a different MANA location for the sake of redundancy. We are currently evaluating an additional third location for a 3CX Failover system, for even greater redundancy.
With no immediate need for a new phone system, we installed 3CX as a pilot for 18 months. During this period, my team continued to review various solutions from Cisco, Avaya, Verizon and others but found the cost difference too significant to consider these alternatives.
Moving to Production
We stretched our 3CX production delivery to the 18-month period because at the time we were working on installing a new multi-million-dollar ERP system (JDE EnterpriseOne) at the company, and most our resources and time were being spent working on the new ERP system implementation.
During the 18-month pilot run, we placed between 100 and 200 users on 3CX. In this period, the company did not experience any issues or setbacks with the PBX, so we decided to move the project to production. In addition, we were very impressed with its advance capabilities and support.
After our successful ERP implementation and delivery to MANA, we gradually migrated the company’s remaining 600 corporate users to the new 3CX system. The rollout was so seamless that many employees were only aware of the change once their old Avaya desk-phones were removed. The old Avaya Analog PBX was switched off.
MANA employees are now enjoying a major boost in mobility and productivity with 3CX—all at a sharply reduced cost. Each employee now has a single, portable extension so that calls can reach them at the office, at home, or anywhere else in the world. Most of our employees use the 3CX app on their smartphones to make calls instead of on their desktops. It is extremely reliable and it works anywhere around the globe as long as a network connection is available. Many love the idea that they don’t have any more share their personal mobile phone number, because of 3CX mobile capabilities.
Customer service and sales teams are using 3CX’s powerful Switchboard to easily managing incoming calls. Advanced call center features, including reporting and monitoring, have ensured that these teams are able to work more productively and increase customer satisfaction.
Employees enjoy unparalleled collaborative options, as they can call, message, chat, or hold web conferences whenever they need to, wherever they are. This is all at no additional cost thanks to 3CX’s Unified Communications features. The ability to integrate business software with the communications system so that information gets to where it is needed in real time has given productivity an additional boost.
Unlike the old Avaya analog system, the ability to use multiple SIP providers has enabled the company to avoid downtime and failures. MANA chose to use 3 separate providers so that in the event that one provider fails, the system automatically switches over to another. Using this in conjunction with 3CX’s Failover feature has meant that we have experienced problem-free communications.
My company has since seen a considerable reduction in national and international call costs and each employee is enjoying use of the free conference call bridges. I am planning to increase the number of VoIP Phones to 900 and the number of lines to 32. I can do this at no extra cost because 3CX is limitlessly scalable and so easy to run and maintain. MANA now fully supports the entire system in-house.
In conclusion, our new VoIP phone system was designed with business people in mind. On the road or at the office, it offers a plethora of features and tools for collaboration, productivity, and plug-ins for corporate systems. From an IT perspective, it is incredibly easy supporting and maintaining the system.