STRAIT Enhances Communications through
an Improved VoIP PBX
Building and maintaining pipelines throughout western Canada, STRAIT works to ensure the safe, environmentally friendly transport of oil and natural gas for their customers. Doing so successfully, however, requires full alignment of their team, both in their office and — more importantly — in the field, where construction and maintenance take place.
As the company developed, this alignment began to require further advancement in technology, especially regarding communication platforms.
“Our business has grown substantially over the past few years, so we’ve got upwards of six to eight hundred people in the field, plus a couple hundred pieces of equipment,” explained Terrence Boland, CFO of STRAIT. “We do have some offices, where we have a shop and an administration staff, but everything we do is field-related.
“As the evolution of our businesses advanced, we started leaning pretty heavily on the Office 365 suite,” Mr. Boland continued. “We utilize Office 365, Outlook and an associated field data capture system.”
As STRAIT implemented this suite of software, the company also became interested in making use of it for their communications, particularly through Microsoft Teams. Furthermore, STRAIT hoped to route as many communication channels as possible through Teams in order to consolidate, unify and consequently simplify their means of collaboration.
“We wanted to have all of that integrated within our current communication systems,” Mr. Boland emphasized. “We didn’t want to have separate landlines and phones and separate systems.
“Really, the goal was to integrate all of those for greater ease of use in the field and in our administrative offices.”
Complicating this desire, however, was the fact that STRAIT found the built-in VoIP capabilities for Teams as unable to support the company’s greater telephony needs. Furthermore, their existing telephone system, a Jive PBX utilizing traditional landline systems, could not integrate either with Teams or with field workers’ communication systems.
In order to actualize this goal of a fully unified communications system, it became necessary for STRAIT to install a new PBX that was not only effective as a VoIP system, but was also capable of interfacing well with the current Teams solution, resulting in minimal to no changes on the front end.
Able to bring a feasible solution to the table was Nutec Electro Tel, a Wildix Gold Partner.
According to Steve Grubbe, VP Operations and Solutions at Nutec, STRAIT’s primary interest was to install a PBX that would work in tandem with Teams in order to maximize ease of use for staff already familiar with that interface. The PBX would therefore work in the background, supplementing the functionality of Teams when used as a VoIP system.
“What prompted this switch was STRAIT’s inclination to use Teams, and they knew that Teams was not a good phone system,” Mr. Grubbe explained. “They didn’t want to muddy the waters by having to support their users with two different interfaces. Because this is a Teams system, it’s just for those users who understand and use Teams, and they don’t need to know that there’s a PBX in the background.”
Of the available options, Wildix was an optimal choice for the project because of its capability to neatly integrate with the Teams architecture.
“They didn’t like Teams voice, they knew it wasn’t a good PBX, so our proposal was a huge hit once we explained what Wildix can do in terms of calls and integrations” Mr. Grubbe elaborated.
Following through on this proposal, Nutec initiated an installation of a cloud hosted Wildix PBX for STRAIT. However, key to the installation process was the utilization of the Call2Teams plugin, which enabled the Wildix PBX to integrate seamlessly with the company’s existing Teams architecture. Consequently, all inbound and outbound calls could be placed, received and controlled through the Teams interface, yet the Wildix PBX would be handling the actual carrying of all 10-digit calls in the background.
Following the installation process, the Wildix PBX powered two offices, with 46 office staff members holding seats on the system. Any users within the company, in the office or out in the field, using the Teams app also have their calls routed through the same Wildix PBX, without any difference in experience or interface.
Following the integration of the Wildix PBX with the existing Teams system, STRAIT achieved a well functioning phone system with exactly the unified approach they sought.
“The big thing is it’s just all one integrated system,” Mr. Boland said. “We’ve got everything just on our desktop. When you’re sitting at your desk, it’s all integrated within the one system. Then on a mobile device, again, it’s all through one system, where you’re just utilizing the Teams app and messaging system and all of that. That makes it a lot easier to manage day-to-day information, so that part has been more useful for sure.”
In fact, enabling mobility through the Wildix PBX has proven especially useful for STRAIT, as this additional usability brought employees a simpler way to manage smart working.
As Nutec’s Steve Grubbe explained, “By putting Wildix in as the background PBX, it then enables Teams to be the company’s work-from-home solution, because they would have their 10-digit dialing and their PBX extensions wherever they are on their laptop or their Teams mobile client.”
But in terms of daily use, the ability of the Wildix system to integrate with Teams with nearly invisible adhesion, and thereby deliver both effective voice calls and a truly unified communications experience through Teams, is the most significant takeaway.
“It’s just one integrated solution — that would be our number one benefit,” Mr. Boland stressed. “As far as all of our communications going and running, that’s really the main driver.”
At time of writing, STRAIT is also undergoing a merger, wherein they will acquire the Alberta-based pipeline company IPAC Services. Once this merge is completed, the company expects to not only continue using the Wildix-powered Teams system, but to expand it. With further installation efforts from Nutec, STRAIT expects to take its number of Wildix-powered seats from 44 to 90.
While this alone speaks to a positive experience with Wildix and Nutec, Mr. Boland made his outlook on the installation perfectly clear when asked if he would recommend both.
“It’s been a good experience, with no issues so far,” he answered. “I‘d definitely make that recommendation.”