CT Pros Blog

Is it Your ShoreTel or is It Your Partner You Need to Change?

When you get poor advice from a Doctor do you keep going to that Doctor?  Or do you listen to that inner voice to go for a second opinion?  

The same thing applies when your ShoreTel deployment is not functioning flawlessly, it’s time to listen to that inner voice.  We receive on average of five calls a month from around the country regarding existing ShoreTel deployments that are providing a less than satisfactory experience for the business.

99.9% of the time it’s not the product.  It’s the partner not addressing the underlying issues properly and managing the account properly.  ShoreTel is a very powerful communication solution and when deployed properly it should be a leveraged and viewed as an important asset and one of the most valuable investments your organization has made.

Recently, we had a prospective existing ShoreTel client contact us.  As soon as the phone conversation began we were able to realize they were in rough shape.  The amount of pain and struggles they have been experiencing made me realize that not enough people get a second opinion soon enough when it comes to struggles w/ a ShoreTel VOIP deployment.

Here is a sample of what we ask for on our first interaction w/ an existing ShoreTel deployment looking for a second opinion.

  • Do you have Virtual VM environment?  

    • Follow up do you have dedicated NIC cards?

  • Do you have VLANS?

    • Follow up, CT-PROS best practices require them from 25 phones and up regardless of Premise or Cloud.

  • (Should there be connectivity issues for remote users) Do you have a VPN concentrator?

    • Although we are one of ShoreTel’s largest partners, we don’t blindly agree with every product they offer. There are better solutions for this legacy OEM product and we need to remove that and it should have never been sold.

  • Do you have SIP trunks?

    • CT-PROS does not support Siperators.  Others do and carriers will tell you “they work great”. Our best practices provide an environment where SIP can be utilized to capture the benefit of DR and cost savings w/o introducing a third party that creates finger pointing between your ShoreTel UC solution and your carrier.

  • What was your training experience like?

    • We take time in ensuring end users are trained properly not only on functionality but expectations. Perception is everything…

  • What version of Software are you on?

    • Just because the vendor releases new software does not mean it’s right for you.  We let other partners and clients be the Guinea pigs for our base.  When a new RX comes out I doubt you’re the first in line @ the pharmacy to try it out.  So why push to be bleeding edge w/ your ShoreTel deployment ask the vendor “can I talk w/ a client on this revision of code?”…

  • Have you experienced a long time for support response times?

    • The difference of a top ShoreTel partner and the rest is the response time.  If it is taking a day or more to get responses to tickets it’s probably best to start shopping for another partner that can alleviate the pains promptly.

That’s of course, just a sampling of where we start.  The reality is there are good Doctors and bad ones, and the same goes for ShoreTel partners.  You need to find one you trust and one that can explain why the best practices have developed to where they are.

  • Ask questions ask for references of clients who came to them in the same situation.
  • Ask what the SLA’s are for their support contracts for ticket resolution (not 1st response).

Did You Know?

ShoreTel monitors and rates how effective a partner’s support proficiency is? It’s a metric called TAC utilization. ShoreTel has deemed that a partner calling in 5% or less compared to its peers is considered to be best in class. Ask your partner to send you a screen capture of what their TAC utilization is, it looks like this. Yes, as of this post that’s our TAC utilization…

Tac utilization

ShoreTel has basically these tiers to rank partners:


This is the highest, meaning you’re not only at the top in all metrics including Sales and Support but you also have substantial investments in training to support the entire ShoreTel offering (including Sky/Hybrid). CT-PROS will have its Platinum status this October and will be the only privately held partner in the Midwest with this distinction.


This is the 2nd highest and again much like platinum it’s the cream of the crop.  Smaller revenue requirements and not as much technical staff is required to achieve this.  That being said this is not an easy certification to achieve.


This is the 3rd highest tier and meets standard qualifications with less revenue i.e. sales annually and less certifications required.  Although they are certified to sell support there is reason they are not at the level of Gold or Platinum


This is the minimum requirement to sell and support ShoreTel services.  Although they are certified to sell support there is reason they are not at the level of Silver, Gold or Platinum.


When choosing a partner make sure you do your research and if you are feeling pains currently, check to see what level of expertise you are truly dealing with by using these tools to measure competency.


About the Author:

Joe Rittenhouse is the President of Business Development and a managing partner of Converged Technology Professionals, Inc.  His expertise is in business consulting/therapy specializing specifically in VOIP, Cloud Services, and Contact Centers.  Joe’s experience in the IT demographic encompasses over two decades.  Outside of work, Joe is a husband and father of four.  Joe is also a self-proclaimed season tour veteran of the Grateful Dead.

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