Work Isn’t Confined to a Cubicle, Is Your Phone?

If you have remote employees, a hosted phone solution could make it easier for you to connect your employees to your system.

With Shoretel’s brilliantly simple cloud-based phone system, which Deerwood Technologies can implement for your company, all you need is an internet connection to give your employees unified communications.

The ShoreTel Sky Cloud Phone System offers many benefits for companies with remote employees:

  • Easily add remote sites and mobile employees to the phone system
  • Manage multiple phones in dozens of locations without a WAN
  • No need to worry about outages, when your building goes down, your phones stay up
  • Get real time metrics that you can leverage
  • Free up time for your IT staff to work on more valuable initiatives

Read the eBook “Becoming a Work From Home Hero, available for download below to explore an easier way to work:

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Amplify employee communication

Using email to conduct important business always starts with the best intentions – saving everyone time. Just think back to the last time you used email to solve a significant business issue or answer detailed questions from an important customer.

But sometimes email creates a disaster of miscommunication. Tone, intonation, and emotion get lost in translation. Messages and ideas are misunderstood. Nothing really gets accomplished.

So, what’s your obvious next step when email isn’t working? A meeting in person, or a quick conference call.

Unfortunately, those communication methods can create a whole new problem. In an increasingly mobile business world where teams, employees, and customers are spread out over multiple remote offices, work-from-home setups, or field operations, it can be nearly impossible to get everyone into the same place at the same time.

Tethering to the mothership: The lasting value of a virtual phone system

Web conferencing has helped mitigate the problem above. But the fact that many businesses lack the communication and collaborative tools their team’s need — regardless of where they work — is the bigger issue. For example, even with web conferencing, many remote or work-from-home employees still rely on personal cell phones that aren’t connected to the company’s main phone system.

That’s problematic for couple of key reasons:

  • With personal landlines and cell phones, it’s significantly more difficult for remote employees to access antiquated company systems for voicemail, call forwarding, and conferencing.
  • Without a true company-owned connection between the corporate office and the employee, the relationship between the two feels more like a contract gig than a full-time job — hurting employee engagement and stickiness.

Thankfully, there’s a relatively simple way to solve that problem: Implementing a new company-owned communication system that’s flexible, mobile, and collaborative.

The reality is that voice communication is still a far superior — and much more immediate — way for team members to connect with each other. It typically leads to richer, more sincere, and more empathetic communication, which in turn amplifies productivity.

Think of these tools like a tether to the corporate mothership. They’re a lifeline that allows everyone to feel connected to their colleagues and customers, but in a way that aligns with the mobility and functionality that today’s remote workers need.

Why many businesses are moving to the cloud

Of course, the image of a desktop phone doesn’t exactly convey a sense of mobility. And it certainly doesn’t solve the problem of being able to connect from any location.

That’s where cloud-based phone systems can help.

Cloud-based phone systems allow team members to receive company calls, access corporate voicemail, and setup virtual conferences from a basic Internet connection. When employees step out of the office, calls can be forwarded and certain features can be accessed from their cell phone.

Traditional phone systems, on the other hand, often hinder remote workers’ communication effectiveness because of their limited mobile capabilities.

This often results in lost money, lost productivity, and big headaches. Even worse, businesses often pay more for traditional phone systems in the form of equipment maintenance and outages.

Virtual communication systems create an overall communication experience that makes people feel like an effective part of the team, wherever they are. No more emotionless email exchanges. And no more awkward, disjointed conference calls. At the end of the day, that’s good for your team, your company, and, most importantly, your customers.

When Disaster Strikes: Looking to the Cloud for Business Continuity

It’s a Monday afternoon. Calls are rolling in, there are countless voicemails to respond to, and business is humming along. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, Courtney the sales manager knocks on your door with a perplexed look on her face.

“Do you know what’s wrong with the phone system?” Courtney asks. “There’s no dialtone, no access to voicemail, and no calls coming in.”

Ah, yes — the feared phone system failure. Whether caused by a clumsy utility worker, a big storm, or some other unpredictable problem, phone system issues can create enormous headaches. In fact, if your company hasn’t implemented any kind of disaster or redundancy plan, those failures significantly disrupt business continuity and productivity.

You can’t afford that kind of stagnation. So, you close your laptop, pull out your cell phone, and call your telecommunications provider. An hour later, you finally get someone on the line. Two hours later, you’ve diagnosed the problem. And, right around closing time, the phone system is finally working again. Problem is, you and your team have lost a day of productivity. And your customers aren’t happy.

A Simpler (and More Effective) Way to Manage Disaster Recovery

Until recently, the only way to ensure this scenario didn’t happen to you was to duplicate all of your systems and implement a complex disaster recovery plan. Both of those require significant investments in equipment and infrastructure, which is why many businesses have instead chosen to roll the dice and hope for the best.

Today, there’s another solution that is cheaper and much more efficient. Cloud-based phone systems have greatly advanced system recovery and business continuity in the face of an outage.

Because cloud systems are hosted virtually, there’s no need to worry about the types of disastrous scenarios that used to disrupt on-premise or landline phone services. If a phone line is cut, cloud-based systems are totally unaffected. If Internet service goes down, phone calls can be re-routed to backup cell phone numbers or other business offices.

Simply put, recovery and continuity is a non-issue.

3 Key Business Benefits of Switching to the Cloud

While that kind of peace of mind is pretty compelling on its own, there are a handful of ancillary benefits of the cloud to consider, as well. Here are three particularly important ones:

  1. Cloud-based phone systems are less expensive up-front than on-premise solutions — and that’s with built-in disaster recovery and redundancy planning.
  2. Unlike on-premise solutions, cloud-based phone systems are totally scalable. If you need to re-direct call flow from one site to another, it’s very easy to do without any disruption in call quality or service.
  3. If a total outage strikes, wiping out your office’s power and Internet service, cloud-based phone systems allow employees to connect from anywhere — their home, a coffee shop, or wherever they can tap into power and a data connection.

With these benefits in mind, the question, then, is why you wouldn’t switch to the cloud.

Truthfully, there are still compelling arguments for on-premise phone systems, and it’s important to consider your goals before making any major change. But if connectivity, business continuity, system redundancy and reliability are important to your company, employees and customers, you’d be wise to take a closer look at the benefits of the cloud. If nothing else, it will help you better plan for network disruptions you can’t possibly anticipate.

Virtual Reality: How to easily establish consistent communications with anyone, anywhere

When the London Business School hosted its annual Global Leadership Summit in June 2014, the school surveyed attendees about a variety of modern business issues and challenges. While the results of that survey covered a variety of topics, one of the really interesting findings was that respondents believed that half of their employees would be working remotely by 2020.


Think about that for a second. In just six years, 50% of your organization may be working from somewhere other than your business’ corporate or regional office. That figure may sound like a stretch, but a recent New York Times article revealed that telecommuting grew by 79% between 2005 and 2012 — and that number is expected to rise even more over the next decade.


So, what does this mean for the future of business?


For starters, it means that organizations must find ways to empower their employees to work effectively and efficiently from any location. Thankfully, cloud-based technology is making that a reality — allowing employees to access virtually any file, application, network, or communication service from any place with a secure Internet connection.


The challenges of modern communication with traditional equipment


Modern phone systems are critical to making sure remote communication operates functionally and effectively – be it an employee working from home and feeling connected to headquarters, or communication across multiple office locations. Imagine for a moment that you operate a healthcare system with teams of physicians who operate out of multiple offices and hospitals. In order to effectively manage patient care and billing, those physicians and their staff must be able to easily communicate with each other (and their “main” office), regardless of where they are or what equipment (landline, cell phone, etc.) they’re using.


With traditional on-site phone systems, creating that kind of network connectivity and flexibility would be incredibly challenging. And even if you managed to make it work, it’s very likely that you would still deal with a handful of other issues.


  • Quality of service: While it might seem like on-premise phone systems would be more reliable, the issue is with the quality of the equipment and network across all remote offices. If the “pipe” from one remote office to the corporate headquarters isn’t big enough, it can lead to significant call and system quality issues.


  • Cost of service: Over the life of your phone system, on-site solutions cost just as much (if not more, when you factor in long-term maintenance costs) as cloud-based managed phone solutions. As a result, you often end up paying the same amount to set up a less flexible, less feature-rich network. Meanwhile, your competitor will be paying less to flip a switch and tap into a VoIP solution with much greater functionality and system integration. Scalability and flexibility of service: Every time you open or expand an office, onsite phone systems require significant investments in additional hardware and installation services. And if staffing levels change, traditional phone systems often aren’t flexible enough to adapt on the fly.


  • Scalability and flexibility of service: Every time you open or expand an office, onsite phone systems require significant investments in additional hardware and installation services. And if staffing levels change, traditional phone systems often aren’t flexible enough to adapt on the fly.


Traditional communication systems deliver fewer features and less flexibility, but can cost you more when you factor in the equipment needed for each remote office, and the support costs of setting up and managing each of those private networks.


Regardless of the vertical your business operates in, that math doesn’t makes much sense.


Cleaning up the way modern businesses communicate


From a data and communications infrastructure perspective, there’s little doubt that cloud-based phone systems can improve the speed and capability of your company’s remote offices. There is much less effort required, and, ultimately, much greater functionality available to your staff.


And while all of that will no doubt lead to greater organizational efficiency and effectiveness (not to mention fewer technical headaches), it’s important not to forget that 50% of your workforce could be remote in six years. To prepare for that possibility, your company’s systems, processes, and applications must be incredibly scalable, flexible, and reliable.

If those aren’t words you’d use to describe your existing phone and communications systems, then it might be time to consider making a change.

Remote Control: How your phone system may be stifling remote employee productivity

Imagine for a moment that you’re a sales manager at a growing company and you’ve just been tasked with building a remote team of 40 sales reps. Your company’s headquarters is in Boston, but these reps will primarily work out of their home offices and much of their time will be spent on the phone — either initiating conversations with prospective clients or engaging existing customers.

While most of your sales reps have personal smartphones they can use on the go, you know that business calls are better conducted on a private line that provides more reliable call quality. Your sales reps will appear more professional, while the features of a business phone system also allows them to be more productive.

But here’s the issue: How exactly are you going to set up each of those sales reps with their own phone lines and all the tools they need to be as productive as possible?

The challenges with remote workers and on-premise phone systems

With traditional onsite phone systems, business owners or in-house IT experts would need to take several laborious steps to get remote workers’ phones connected to the company’s internal network.

First, they’d have to purchase an expensive phone for each employee — typically through their TelCo provider. Next, they’d need to do some circuit work to ensure that the company’s on-premise system could manage the additional call load. And lastly, they’d have to perform regular monitoring and maintenance of the onsite equipment to ensure its ongoing reliability.

Then there’s the issue of system features and functionality.

Generally, the benefits of legacy onsite phone systems are limited to reliability, caller identification, and voicemail functionality. Modern VoIP systems, however, allow employees (including remote workers) to easily link their phone to CRM and ERP applications, leverage click-to-dial technology, and unleash powerful call analytics.

If your business can’t provide those tools to remote employees, then it’s likely limiting your remote staff’s efficiency and productivity.

Is a cloud-based phone system the answer?

The emergence of cloud-based VoIP technology has largely rendered each of the challenges and obstacles listed above moot. With a cloud-based phone system, getting a remote employee up and running with a phone system is as simple as purchasing a phone, connecting it to the Internet, and downloading some software.

There’s no added setup, maintenance, management costs, or headaches, and your remote employees can immediately tap into the same functionality that in-house employees have access to. Even better, cloud-based phone service providers ensure the system is constantly upgraded and protected, which improves uptime, call reliability, and customer experience.

In a word, a cloud-based phone system just makes things easier.

If your business has a legacy onsite phone system that’s failing to deliver that kind of connectivity to your remote staff, or if you just think there’s a more effective way to sync remote workers to your company’s network, then you may want to consider moving to the cloud. Your remote employees — and their customers — will thank you for it.

People Matter

Tech Talk

Jim-MBy Jim Mayne – Business/Technology Officer, Deerwood Technologies

The most important component of any business process is people – Employees and Customers!  Technology acquisition, depreciation, maintenance, support, education, change management, business disruption, retirement and decommission all have their hard dollar contributions to Total Cost of Ownership (TCO).

However, the impact of technology on your customers’ ability to engage and do business with you has significant and very real costs – AND benefits.  Likewise, your staff’s productivity and effectiveness can be enhanced or inhibited by technology.  Ideally you deploy, USE and then retire technology – minimizing or eliminating the need to service, maintain, upgrade or repair during its useful and economic life.  Service calls or touching technology often or at all during its useful life is an often unrecognized and large component of TCO.

Technology that is simple and intuitive to use significantly enhances both customer (revenue) and staff time/effectiveness (cost).  Contact your Deerwood Technologies account manager today to learn more about ensuring you realize and leverage technology benefits, in part by minimizing TCO and reducing complexity.

What Are Collaboration Solutions?

Tech Talk

with Amanda MacDonald – Deerwood Technologies

Collaboration solutions are tools for communication that enable workers to share knowledge, processes, ideas and information among each other and with customers and vendors effectively and efficiently. Collaboration tools have become commonplace amongst Deerwood’s customer base because of the synergies realized by joining efforts through seamless communication. The end results are a convergence of communications and applications through the integration of process and products that facilitate the use of multiple enterprise communication methods, including software, equipment and services.

While tools such as telephony and email are very commonplace within many organizations, most have been slow to onboard the full suite of collaborative tools available because of the ability to define the ROI behind collaboration solutions. Deerwood’s ability to do calculations behind staff productivity and response times are key elements toward this justification, and quantitatively scoping this will help cost justify collaboration solutions.

Improved communication and savings around telecom, meeting and travel costs are among the measureable and tangible returns for building a proof of concept for collaboration solutions.

Getting clients and their end users to start adopting collaboration tools into their daily workflow at first may be no easy task, but once the solutions are utilized the adoption rate is quick as end users start to see how easy they can access information, people, and crucial data.

How Do Deerwood’s Collaboration Solutions Benefit My Business?

Collaboration solutions can enable you to:

  • Eliminate duplicate efforts
  • Enable converged  access to      limited resources—anytime, anywhere
  • Increase workflow efficiency and effectiveness
  • Greatly reduce time of resolution of issues

If you are ready to explore the many ways Deerwood’s communications solutions can enhance your business productivity and efficiency, contact your Deerwood Technologies account rep today!

Mobile Device Security

Tech Talk with Jeramy Mercil, Enterprise Solutions Architect, Compliance Officer – Deerwood Technologies


When most people think of information technology and security, their cell phone isn’t the first thing that comes to mind.  Everybody has a smart phone these days and little effort is put in to secure them. From a hackers point of view though, what better target!  There is usually no antivirus or firewall.  They are online and connected to the internet 24/7.  In addition to all of that, they’re usually quite vulnerable as it takes so long to get a security update, that by the time it’s applied to your device, it’s already affected by a new set of vulnerabilities.

From a business owners point of view this could be a nightmare.  With everything that people do on their phones (email, banking, games, pictures, web browsing, and social networking) there is no separation of work activities from personal activities.  The permissions that you grant some of those games and funny little gadgets are sometimes quite startling.  Whoever reads those security or legal notices anyways, right?  Often you are giving these applications complete access to your phone and the network it connects to.  So when you mix personal activities on a phone that has your business emails or corporate application, you’re exposing your phone and increasing the risk of being exploited.

What can I do to mitigate these risks?  Throw your smartphone out the windows and go buy a dumb phone (one of those old style flip ones, with no internet access).  No, I don’t see everyone devolving or starting to wear fashionable metal hats, but I do see people becoming more aware of the risk and actually taking action it.  For starters make sure you lock screen pin and encrypt your SD card.  After that I would get an antivirus and firewall app.  For the extra paranoid user, install a log viewer app and see what your phone is doing.

That’s a good start, but what if you’re running a business and are managing 10’s, 100’s, or even 1000’s of devices. That’s where mobile device management (MDM) comes into play;  by implementing an MDM solution you can force security features to be enabled or policies to be applied.  You can remotely wipe a lost device or install a new company supported app for the mass of phones that you manage.  Location tracking and remote log collection features could be enabled in more advanced systems. So whether you are ready to explore a full blown MDM environment or just want to learn more about ways to keep your or your staff’s mobile devices secure, take the next step and reach out to your Deerwood Technologies Account Executive for more information.

Workflow Technology

Tech Talk

with Jason Przymus, VP Business Development – Deerwood Technologies

Workflow technology first made its appearance known in the business world in the 1980’s when computers were all beige and paper was king. It was first incorporated in the insurance industry, where it drastically decreased the documentation involved in claims.  Since then, there have been several industries that have incorporated its services. Healthcare has recently joined the other industries by leading the way in incorporating the benefits of workflow technology; creating a more effective work environment; and increasing efficiencies across multiple practices. And more importantly – accurate and more effective billing and coding processes are realized. As the Government is mandating electronic workflow in healthcare the increases in revenue from proper coding is proving very fruitful for all involved.

Workflow deals with the responsibilities, triggers, and assets related with a defined process or procedure. Then it incorporates the computerization of these processes. Now you are able to manage, synchronize, supervise and report the various actions related with distinct procedures.

Certain procedures do not adapt very well to automation. An aging workforce resistant to technological change, people that love to print and outdated systems are all suspects. However processes that involve parallel steps, or sequential steps in their implementation are able to adjust rapidly to such computerization. These processes are also found to require automation at specific points, communicating the tasks as well as alerting systems.

Feel like you are ready to take a hard look at ways to improve efficiency through examining how technology enhances your workflow? Be ready to face some interesting results and push-back from staff. There is one key ingredient to increasing efficiency through technology, the human interaction. The human effect can be a major hitch in any giddy-up. Implementing technologies such as single sign-on can improve log-in times by multiple-seconds times 300 staff logging in 50-60 times a day. This adds up to some actual dollars. But if you have staff that refuses to accommodate change, you are dead-in-the-water. Positioning, buy-in and training are imperative elements to any efficiency process.

Streamlined workflow processes have been key to the productivity gains found at many of Deerwood’s most forward thinking clients, but there are many other benefits as well. Small things add up too. Like not having to worry about synching up staff smartphones so they have the most up-to-date contacts or schedules, or the function to collaborate on a document and immediately know when changes have been made. If you are ready to start creating a more streamlined approach to delivering results for your customers as well as allowing yourself the ability to refocus the lost time on growing your business, let us show you the way!

Technology Roadmap

By Jim Mayne – Business/Technology Officer, Deerwood Technologies

It’s that time of year – as leaders of businesses, organizations and departments – when many of us look ahead to set goals, priorities and plans for the future. Planning processes take many shapes and forms, but one way or another we attempt to assess our current state and place in the environment, determine our intended direction and velocity, and finally develop strategies and tactics for getting there – along with milestone and goals to hit along the way.

All organizations small and large are increasingly dependent on information technology. IT systems are critical to manage production, sales, the customer experience, and back-office administration. IT capabilities must be aligned to meet these needs.

Concurrently, the same organizations who are focused on optimizing IT benefits for their business are also concerned about IT’s life cycle costs. It is imperative that IT spending is controlled and ensure that IT investments are enabling the right capabilities – those that make a difference for their business.

A Technology Roadmap will help achieve both goals. It helps to see through the fog to the road ahead – a road where IT is aligned to meet the needs of your business.

Our experienced consultants can support and assist your organization’s existing planning efforts. Specifically, we can help you develop a strategic technology plan and roadmap for YOUR business. Call to engage us today!