SMU is currently implementing an updated phone system, replacing the current campus telephone system in service for the last 25 years.
Major Project Components
An extensive RFP process was conducted between November 2016 and June 2018 to select the product and the vendor for this project. Microsoft Skype for Business was selected as the Unified Communications platform. Contracts for the call center solution and e911 location services is pending.
Prior to converting phone service to Skype for Business, a number of activities are required to ensure our network is ready to deliver quality voice service. This includes network cabling upgrades in various building across campus, additional server installations and configurations, quality of service testing and adjustments, and several other behind the scenes activities. All infrastructure components must be completed prior to the deployment of handsets for all users. The cabling upgrades must be completed before anyone in the building receives new handsets.
A critical component of any phone service is the ability to provide location information when dialing 911. With the new phone solution, significant effort is required to map the network jacks to the exact building location and transmit that information to emergency personnel. This phase must be completed before any handsets are delivered and integrated with the new phone solution.
SMU currently supports several call trees for various service desks and departments. These call trees are configured in several different ways with various routing rules and schedules. The help desk will be the first group to migrate to the new solution to effectively guide the implementation of other call trees. Extensive testing for voice service reliability will be needed to ensure quality of service. When the quality of service is acceptable, the IT Help Desk call center will launch the first pilot group. After the pilot implementation, OIT will contact call center managers to determine the appropriate production schedule for each unit.
OIT personnel will serve as the pilot group for initial handset deployments. This phase allows OIT to streamline the implementation process for campus-wide deployment, prepare training materials, and manage communications. This pilot will also ensure the stability of our voice service and network performance before deployment for the Dallas campus.
Phones will be deployed by building. Additional details and the deployment schedule updates will be forthcoming.
Why New Phones?
Southern Methodist University's Office of Information Technology (OIT) supports the current phone system (in operation since the early ’90s). This system provides service to SMU's main campus and SMU-in-Plano locations, but does not support SMU-in-Taos. While this system is historically reliable and stable, it is also costly because of the steady rise in annual support and maintenance expenses. The need to lower overall operational costs is one of many factors driving system replacement.
This project aligns with the following SMU strategic goals:
- Improve and modernize aging campus infrastructure
- Consolidate operational and cost responsibilities for telephone service operations under OIT
- Promote responsible stewardship of resources by investing in sustainable new technology
- Enhance the academic stature of the University by providing improved resources to faculty, staff, and students
The timeline for completion of the Phone Replacement Project is approximately eighteen months from the time of contract execution. Our plan for implementation includes a phased approach. The SMU's main campus, SMU-in-Plano, and SMU-in-Taos are in scope of this project.
Skype for Business
Skype for Business is a comprehensive Unified Communications application. It is currently providing instant messaging, presence and desktop conferencing for faculty and staff. During this project, enterprise voice will be enabled providing voice services.
There have been a number of communication efforts as we secured funding for this project and throughout the RFP process including surveys, blog posts, and executive summaries and presentations. As the actual implementation progresses, our communication efforts will become more frequent! We will continue to provide updates to the project on this website as well as our blog (blog.smu.edu/itconnect) and newsletters. As we schedule each building for conversion, communications to employees within each area will be provided in addition to training and workshop opportunities. Regular updates to Governance and Executive Leaders will also be facilitated.
Frequently Asked Questions
This project will not take away phones from employees, and current handsets will be replaced.
Users will keep their current phone numbers.
All features currently available to users will be present in the new phone system.
To receive updates regarding the phone service you may subscribe to our listserve by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please note: The subject and body of the email should remain blank.
Headsets can be ordered from our technology purchasing portal. If you wish to purchase your own headset from another source, OIT only supports headsets that are Skype for Business certified.