Fit for the future. That’s been the phrase on everybody’s lips at Longhurst Group over the last year. We’re confident that we’re fit-for-purpose but the challenge we’ve faced as an ICT team is how to also ensure that we’re ready for what is yet to come.
So how can you prepare for the unknown? In this instance, the right systems and telephony infrastructure will provide us with the flexible foundation we need to become the organisation we want to be. That’s why we started looking for telephony technology to make managing communications easier and give us options so that we can choose how we want to develop in the future.
We operate from across more than 15 sites throughout the Midlands and until this year, we managed our communications though a traditional ISDN architecture at each location. However, with an increasingly mobile workforce, a developing culture of total integration, and an ambition to increase the size of our group, we needed to make a change.
Since August 2016, we’ve been working through a session initiation protocol (SIP) configuration, with a single trunk now processing all communications for the whole group. This approach supports enhanced functionality and has enabled us to consolidate our communications service provider. The next stage is to migrate to Skype for Business, having already switched to Office 365 earlier this year.
Recognising our need for some specialist technical support, we put the contract out to tender. We are now working with Modality Systems to support the integration process which we hope to have completed by November. Over the coming weeks, we’ll start to replace our traditional telephony software and work with teams across the organisation to embed new ways of working.
Taking this approach to telephony gives us many benefits because the shift supports high-level organisational aims as well as providing increased day-to-day functionality for our staff. The new system supports far better DR processes as well as contributing to our eco-friendly targets. We’re also expecting to see significant reductions in the amount of ICT time spent setting-up new staff and supporting transfers between office locations. Quite simply, the whole project will reduce cost and increase efficiency, tipping the balance of value-for-money in the right direction.
Perhaps more importantly though, we’re now in a position where technology doesn’t have to sit at the heart of discussions around cultural development; instead those debates can focus on people, as they always should. We won’t have to define ourselves by the limitations of what our systems support because what we have now is the flexibility and the scope to support widespread, rapid change.
Darren Ryland is director of ICT at Longhurst Group.