Case Study: Flexible Hosted PBX Fits Web Marketer

The JAR Group is a small business in a trendy, developing industry: online marketing. Specializing in search engine optimization, JAR helps companies drive up sales by increasing and improving their website traffic. The firm works out of a similarly trendy address. Of its 20 or so employees, 15 or so operate out of loft space in DUMBO, (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass), with panoramic views of the Brooklyn Bridge, multitenant conference space, sky-high ceilings and no walls. If any of its SEO analysts or Web marketers wants to move operations from their fixed workspaces, they simply take their laptops and stretch out on the corner couch.

Challenge. The JAR Group is the new-school digital workforce mobile, dispersed and free-range. Gen X and Y, these employees have never signed up for land lines, and theyre not about to start being tethered at work. Because of their mobile ways, having a fixed” phone system just didnt work for them. Additionally, they needed a phone system that would scale with them as they brought on consultants for larger projects and then just a few weeks or months later scaled back once again upon completion of the project.

Solution. The JAR Group decided to try out a new VoIP service OnSIP from Junction Networks. Melissa Koehler, JARs business development manager, set up the system more than a year ago. We had been using another VoIP service provider, but the service didnt scale,” she said. Melissa works from home one day a week. Calls to her extension ring through to the free eyeBeam softphone from Counterpath Corp. running on her laptop. Location independence also came in handy this winter, when New Jersey-based employees frequently were snowed in. Having one number to put on our business cards also gives a bigger business impression,” she noted.

With OnSIP, JAR Group employees now can take most of their office calls on the softphones on their laptops or the cell phones in their pockets. If they have smartphones, as most do, they might also use the mobile VoIP clients via Wi-Fi. All this helps the JAR Groups bottom line, as theres less desktop hardware to buy and with VoIP, few or no cell phone minutes to charge back to clients.

Cooler still, theyve got PBX, business-style phone service while being so mobile. This means you can reach them as extensions to one company phone number, including the two who work in a New Jersey office and those working from Scottsdale, Ariz.; Eugene, Ore.; Denver and Philadelphia. They can transfer calls between each other with four numbers or a few online clicks, retrieve and swap e-mails and do everything else that regular extensions do within a brick-and-mortar office. This is because all of their softphones and handhelds are attached virtually to the OnSIP hosted PBX service.

Josh Unseth, one of the JAR Groups SEO analysts, is the current OnSIP administrator. Im really not a technical person. My previous telecom experience consisted of buying a phone and plugging it into the wall,” he said. OnSIP is a very simple product to use for someone like me.” The OnSIP online knowledge base gave him all the expertise he needed to set up the phones, he said, and he sets up new extensions in a click or two, at no additional expense. The service doesnt charge by the extension or seat like most other hosted PBX services, only by minutes used and optional application add-ons.

We chose OnSIP for its ease of use, its flexibility and its price,” Unseth said. Any sort of enterprise phone system would have cost us tons of money to install, not to mention monthly expenses. Basically with OnSIP were paying $60 a month for the phone lines plus the off-network minutes we use. Interoffice, or on-net calls, are now free. It functions just like a normal office system, without giving us a lot of pain.”

Theres one main number and we run a number of other little silos of business, with other greetings, on other numbers that OnSIP allows us to run as well,” Unseth added, noting that in addition to soft phones from Counterpath, Fring and others, OnSIP works with any of the SIP hardware phones they happened to have a Linksys, a Polycom and, using IP adapters, even old-fashioned PSTN phones and conference phones.

Additional applications are also on the pay-per-use model. If employees need an audio conference bridge, we bring in a conference line number for two dollars a month,” Unseth said. The company then pays for minutes of use. OnSIPs conferencing line also conveys more business gravitas than a free conferencing service that welcomes callers with its own little commercial. JAR can insert a conference line greeting of its own.

Results. As a result of the implementation of OnSIP, JAR employees are saving on their cell phone charges by using a SIP client that runs on their smartphones, particularly when traveling. I can use my phone that way without using minutes,” Unseth said. And I can call into company extensions with four digits.”

AJ Lawrence, CEO of JAR Group, estimated a monthly savings of $500 to $1,000 in total telecom costs. He notes that OnSIP is all in keeping with the lean, software-as-a-service model of Internet startups; in fact, the services voice mail system even works with Gmail, delivering savable, forwardable voice mails through employees Gmail accounts. In addition to cost savings, JAR Group is pleased with OnSIPs ability to scale with them, as well as the option to add services, such as audio conference, on a pay-as-you-go basis, so it isnt locked into these services when it doesnt need them. The audio conference bridge is even available in HD at a minimal cost.

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