We at CDW pride ourselves on developing automation tools to make our collaboration deployment engineers’ jobs easier. We have created tools to automate just about everything there is to automate with Cisco on-premises products: Communications Manager, Unity Connections, Contact Center Express/Enterprise and Voice Gateways, to name a few.

Learn about CDW’s workplace communication services and online collaboration tools.

With the migration to more cloud-based solutions in the collaboration space, and coinciding with our new service of deploying the cloud voice platform RingCentral, it made sense to create an automation tool to quickly provision users and phones.

RingCentral provides an all-in-one solution with cloud phone, videoconferencing, team messaging, contact center and other features.

Our belief is we can build a tool to provision RingCentral sites quickly, efficiently and in a manner that aligns with our best practices.

Determining Minimum Viable Product

In order to build a RingCentral tool, the first step is to create a minimum viable product, or MVP. What this means is simple ― try to get beneficial features out quickly so that they can be tested in a production scenario.

According to technopedia, MVPs have three characteristics:

  1. The application has enough value that people are willing to use it initially.
  2. The application demonstrates enough future benefit to retain early adopters.
  3. They provide feedback loops to guide future development.

For our MVP, we built the following features:

  • Import users
  • Import IVR prompts
  • Import IVR menus

These three functions will save a significant amount of time deploying RingCentral sites. Once we have these core features validated as functional in a production environment, we’ll add even more features to make the engineers’ jobs easier.

For our feedback loop, we will utilize Cisco’s Webex Teams collaboration platform to collect feedback and provide a platform to grow a user community. We already use this platform with our other tools with great success.

Why Automation?

What, why, and when do we automate? The answers are different for every organization. At CDW, we seek to leverage automation where we can.

The benefits of automation for our engineers are many:

  • Increases speed to production cutover, thereby lowering labor costs
  • Removes the manual, tedious tasks involved with deploying voice platforms
  • Reduces the number of errors
  • Consistency

The concern that automation could take away jobs may be true in industries relying on robotics, but within the IT industry, automation is enhancing jobs instead of replacing them. Consider these five positive benefits of automation in the workplace.

Perhaps the best aspect of automation is the reduction of time spent on mundane tasks. When deploying systems, entering data manually into web forms is tedious. The time saved allows one to focus more on providing great service for the customer and going above and beyond in other areas.

For example, a customer recently needed a way to quickly update devices within Cisco’s Communications Manager to meet a change in naming conventions. Because our automation tools saved on deployment time, the engineers had enough time to build their own tool to bulk update the devices.

Wrap-Up

As we build our RingCentral practice, our tool will continue to evolve and provide even greater benefits for our engineers and customers. It is our goal to create as many tools as we can that allow us to focus on the customer and provide great service in a quick and efficient manner.

Our development team builds tools that provide significant time savings for our engineering team, but our customers ultimately see the biggest impact, with quality deployments and less labor costs than a manual install.

Automation within CDW is not limited to Cisco or RingCentral voice systems; our Microsoft practice, Managed Service practice, Software Solutions practice and others rely on automation every day. It is just one of the many benefits of working with CDW.

Collaboration and the cloud are evolving rapidly and CDW can assist with all your technology needs to help you rapidly deploy a cloud voice platform. Please contact your CDW account manager to learn more.