- Enabling telework: Surry County’s government employees can now reliably call, message, text, video chat, and fax from anywhere, using any device.
- Improving service: With flexible, feature-rich communications across the organization, Surry County is better able to serve its residents than ever.
- Reducing costs: Replacing its previous VoIP system and costly mobile services deployed during COVID is saving Surry County tens of thousands of dollars annually.
Supporting thousands of rural, underserved residents every day
The government of Surry County, Virginia, faces two unusual challenges in providing its wide range of emergency and quality-of-life services to the area’s 7,000 citizens. The first challenge is simply reaching residents across the county’s vast physical territory — which is one of the least populated per square mile among all of Virginia’s 130 counties.
The second challenge — and the reason the county’s government officials went looking for a cloud communications solution — is technological. Because it is so rural, so removed from major population centers, and so geographically widespread, Surry County has always faced difficulty finding reliable, affordable telephony and has never had more than a couple of carriers offering service at any given time. In fact, the county has been deemed a broadband desert.
Cloud communications became a necessity during COVID
Just prior to the 2020 pandemic, Surry County migrated from its landline-based phone infrastructure to a VoIP system. Delon Brown, Director of IT for Surry County, notes that the system was serving the government’s telephony needs sufficiently — until an executive order from the governor forced all employees to vacate their offices and transition to remote work.
“Our Department of Social Services had to keep functioning,” explains Delon. “These are the people fielding child-care assistance requests and providing nutritional assistance to at-risk families.”
Delon’s team did their best to quickly set up home-based communications for employees using whatever services were available. “We had no choice but to build ad-hoc mobile services for everyone: cell phones, wireless plans, and hotspots. Those workarounds weren’t great, and they cost us about $45,000.”
As Delon recalls, “That solution didn’t scale — and I knew we could never again afford to be in a position like this, where our essential workers didn’t have the communication tools they needed to serve the people counting on them. We wanted to future-proof our communication systems so that our employees could work untethered from their office desks and ensure we continue to provide support to our communities no matter what the circumstances.”
That realization, Delon explains, led his team to engage Surry County’s trusted technology partner, IPC, to review cloud communication offerings. As a reseller of both Mitel and RingCentral solutions, IPC introduced Delon and his team to both options.
“Hearing about the Mitel + RingCentral partnership, we knew we would be moving towards a good direction considering RingCentral’s strong experience as a cloud communications provider and hearing the stories of other local governments who overcame similar situations like ours.”
Improving efficiencies and service
With RingCentral MVP (Message, Video, Phone), Surry County has been able to give its employees the ability to call, chat, SMS, meet, and even fax from anywhere, using any device equipped with the RingCentral softphone or mobile app. And these new capabilities have given the organization the flexibility to schedule hybrid working arrangements with employees working one or two days a week from home.
“When we went live with RingCentral, we could see the results almost immediately. I can say that the flexibility with RingCentral is unmatched. We can now run a workforce from any location, put a phone down virtually anywhere, and have it work without having to worry about it.”
He adds: “RingCentral’s cloud software simplifies our operational workflows as it provides our teams with the ability to set custom work hours, voice promptings, IVRs, and auto attendant, all from within the RingCentral web portal. The RingCentral MVP and Microsoft 365 integration has also improved our business continuity.” In fact, Delon adds, “this added efficiency and mobility means we’re able to deliver better service to the residents who need us.”
Benefiting from the RingCentral-Mitel partnership
The fact that RingCentral and Mitel are now working together, Delon explains — and that IPC is a partner to both companies — helped improve Surry County’s migration in ways that Delon didn’t even realize until after they had happened.
“Because IPC’s teams are tightly connected with both RingCentral and Mitel, we got the benefit of Mitel’s Migration Accelerator service for our switchover to RingCentral,” he says. “IPC used that process to port over our numbers so quickly that within a couple of days everyone our entire administration was running smoothly on our new RingCentral platform. I was expecting a little more turbulence during the migration, so that was a nice surprise.”
Saving money on telecom
Finally, Delon points out, the migration to RingCentral is also helping Surry County consolidate services — including video conferencing, SMS, and fax — onto a single unified platform from one vendor. And because RingCentral makes it so easy for county employees to access these communication services from any device using the RingCentral softphone and mobile apps, Surry County is also reducing its physical phone inventory by 80%.
These benefits, Delon notes, add up to a significant reduction in Surry County’s overall telecom costs.
“We’ve gained all of these amazing benefits — unified communications, mobile apps, intuitive user and admin portals, and an outstanding partner in RingCentral — and we’re spending less than we were for a service that wasn’t even meeting our needs. Just eliminating the mobile services we had to roll out during the pandemic is going to save us about $45,000 a year, all thanks to RingCentral.”
Originally published Feb 03, 2023