Based in Calgary, Alberta, Ridgeback Resources Inc. is a private petroleum and natural gas company engaged in the exploration, development, and production of petroleum and natural gas in Western Canada, mainly in Saskatchewan and Alberta. The company employs approximately 250 people and produces approximately 22,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day. Incorporated in 2016, Ridgeback acquired the assets and business of a producer undergoing a corporate restructuring. Led by a new executive with significant oil and gas experience, Ridgeback has quickly established itself as a winning energy venture.
Ridgeback’s dynamic executive team rapidly set about modernizing the legacy operations it inherited. They looked for every opportunity to maximize the company’s operational potential and productivity through best-in-class technology. As part of these modernization efforts, the Ridgeback information services (IS) team turned its attention to the company’s outdated telephone services and the high long-distance rates that came with them.
“It came down to cost. We had enough PRI lines for a company twice the size of Ridgeback. The long-distance rates were expensive, and based on an old contract that our telco was hesitant to help us right-size.” – Kyle Rudolph, Lead, Information Services, Ridgeback Resources
Anchored to an inflexible, one-sided contract with a traditional telco, Ridgeback’s IS team recognized the communication cost savings of modernizing its telephony as “low-hanging fruit.”Compared to other areas of digital transformation, the company could rapidly modernize its telephony system—with minimal risks and low/no disruption. Ridgeback turned to ThinkTel, a division of Distributel, Canada’s fastest-growing voice network.
“In our first meeting, we must have had four people on the call from ThinkTel alone, which was great. Their technical team outlined precisely what needed to be done in a very straightforward way.” – Naheed Visram, Team Lead, IT Infrastructure Services, Ridgeback Resources
ThinkTel accelerated the deployment process with its trademark approach to customer calls. With technical talent as well as relationship managers on the line, the ThinkTel team addressed any technical concerns and questions about the migration process. The Ridgeback team knew exactly what needed to happen before signing any contracts or making any commitments. ThinkTel’s helpful, low-pressure approach to discovery gave the Ridgeback IT team the confidence to proceed with a month-long pilot project.
“Within the first day or two of deployment, we engaged ThinkTel support to ensure that both our SIP trunks were being used for load balancing as well. They were happy to help us.” –Naheed Visram, Team Lead, IT Infrastructure Services, Ridgeback Resources
With a successful project pilot providing proof of concept for the SIP-trunking service, Ridgeback gave ThinkTel the green light to migrate all its legacy phone lines. From start to finish, the migration process took two and a half months and caused no disruption, as promised. ThinkTel assisted Ridgeback with technical configuration and the process of porting numbers over from the legacy provider, sharing best practices cost management techniques. ThinkTel’s migration team also recommended that Ridgeback leverage the on-premises infrastructure they own to provide an additional layer of failover redundancy.
“I’d say our biggest win was a head office phone bill reduction of between 75 and 80 percent.” – Kyle Rudolph, Lead, Information Services, Ridgeback Resources
To start, Ridgeback realized dramatic and immediate savings—reducing their main office phone bill by between 75 percent and 80 percent. Savings like these alone might justify the process, but the company has also made its telephony solution vastly more scalable. Ridgeback could double its size tomorrow—adding an additional 250 employees—and in a matter of seconds set up channels with ThinkTel. Instead of waiting for days or weeks and taking on the high costs of “making changes to their account,” Ridgeback can get the capacity it needs when it needs it.
“It’s great because we can monitor adoption and usage in real-time with ThinkTel’s uControl. We can also confirm that we’re right-sized and only paying for what we use.” – Kyle Rudolph, Lead, Information Services, Ridgeback Resources
ThinkTel uControl enables Ridgeback’s IS team to monitor and administer their service plus provision numbers themselves, 24/7/365, at no additional cost. Indeed, this new customer experience stands in stark contrast to the inconvenience and pace of the old one, which required calling in change requests to the traditional telco’s account managers and then coordinating field visits from technicians. In a business environment where every minute counts, the old provider’s inflexibility and lack of urgency are not missed.
“ThinkTel uControl is one of the best dashboards I've used from a telecom provider. It gives total visibility and is very straightforward and easy to use. The first time I used it, I had no trouble navigating it and it felt like I had been using it for years..” – Naheed Visram, Team Lead, IT Infrastructure Services, Ridgeback Resources
As Ridgeback’s employees were migrated incrementally, they reported no issues with their phone systems. In fact, many had no idea that their phone systems had changed at all. And why would they? Ridgeback employees continued to use the same handsets and phone numbers. With all the changes happening in the backend, the user experience stayed the same for them and required no additional training or change management. That means no disruption, delays, complaints, or adoption “push back.”
“At one time a lot of companies worried about swapping out a traditional phone service with a Voice Over IP service, worrying about quality. They don’t have to worry about any quality issues with ThinkTel.” – Kyle Rudolph, Lead, Information Services, Ridgeback Resources
The Ridgeback team reports that they did experience some migration “hiccups” on their side, which they attribute to having an incomplete list of phone number ranges that were accumulated over years. Having a better handle on their inventory—all the numbers they use and own, all in one place—could have made their migration 100 percent perfect. Even so, with the assistance of the ThinkTel migration team, Ridgeback resolved its issues quickly and never looked back.
“ThinkTel was great to work with, and the transitions team was very responsive. If we had any issues they responded right away, which is critical. We learned the importance, however, of having your inventory 100% locked down.” –Naheed Visram, Team Lead, IT Infrastructure Services, Ridgeback Resources
The Ridgeback story offers some very helpful insights for any organization considering a migration from traditional PRI lines to a modern digital voice solution.
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