Hampshire County Council
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SUPPORTING LOCAL GOVERNMENT TRANSFORMATION
Avaya IP Telephony Portfolio Gives Hampshire County Council Enhanced Flexibility for Its Voice Services
From helping Hampshire County Council roll out its flexible working strategy to enabling it to offer shared voice services to partner authorities, an Avaya IP telephony solution covering over 250 sites is proving a vital addition to the Hampshire Public Services Network. It’s also delivering substantial and crucial cost savings behind the scenes that help ensure it can protect frontline services.
Since 1999, Hampshire County Council had been running a hugely successful Public Services Network – delivering a range of reliable and cost-effective IT services to partner local authorities, services to partner local authorities, schools and other public sector organisations in the county. When it came to contract renewal in 2009, as one of a number of changes, Hampshire wanted to add voice services to the offering.
Savings and Strategic Gains
The Council’s corporate resources team had identified that there were significant opportunities for savings around voice, by using IP telephony to drive down internal call costs and mobile usage across its many sites – and its partners’ sites. It also recognised the potential of using IP telephony to help it deliver its flexible working strategy, which was integral to its wider modernisation and efficiency programme.
By moving to IP, staff would be able to log in to the network from any Council location: each member of staff would have their own extension number, so they could be easily contacted, but without having to sit at the same desk. That in turn would reduce travel costs and carbon emissions, free up space in offices to support estates consolidation, and support collaborative working, with staff from different local authorities and departments able to move and literally work alongside each other where necessary.
A Framework Agreement for Change
These considerations fed into Hampshire’s procurement strategy for the network – known as HPSN2 – which was to set up a framework agreement with a prime contractor for a range of telecoms services. This approach not only meant that each partner would be able to buy the specific services they wanted, but also protect the Council against technology change: instead of needing to acquire new hardware to enable new features, as had been the case in the previous contract, it would invest in managed services, making upgrades the responsibility of the contractor.
After a rigorous tender process, Virgin Media Business won the landmark contract. It had already consulted Avaya Business Partner Dimension Data about the IP telephony solution during the tender, and once the contract was in place, Dimension Data began to work closely with Hampshire County Council to finalise the design for the new core telephony network.
Trusting to SIP at the Core
Hampshire County Council already had an Avaya telephony system in place, and that – combined with Dimension Data’s expertise with the Avaya portfolio – made Avaya the obvious choice for the new voice services. However, as discussions continued around the design of the telephony architecture, a relatively untried option was put on the table: to use Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) trunking for the core. This would mean far fewer local gateways were needed, consolidating connections to the main PSTN network at a handful of sites. Server footprint and heat and power costs could be reduced further, and future integration between voice and data would be simpler.
After receiving formal confirmation from Avaya that this new solution would deliver the reliability and functionality it sought, Hampshire opted for the SIP-based infrastructure. This was a bold step for a local government organisation: most are typically wary when it comes to using leading-edge technology. It was built around the Avaya Aura® suite, featuring Communication Manager at its heart, working with Session Manager and System Manager to provide the range of features and management capability that Hampshire wanted.
Delivering the User Experience
With the core successfully in place, implementation of the individual sites became a straightforward process. A comprehensive project plan was put in place for migration of almost 10,000 users across more than 250 sites, and tightly managed by Dimension Data.
The main change, from the user perspective, was simply a new handset, with the introduction of the 9600 Series IP Deskphones. At the Council head office in Winchester, some 3000 handsets were installed: floor walkers and flashcards were provided to support positive take up of the new technology and the new IP Deskphones were a straightforward upgrade. Individual sites followed with the same process, though had a different handset: the 9608 SIP Deskphone.
Realising the Shared Service Opportunity
A year on, and the like-for-like savings on core telephony are already apparent, with substantial reductions on per-minute costs. But the bigger savings – and opportunities – are just beginning to emerge as partner organisations start to use the infrastructure too.
For example, the Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust – a public sector body in Hampshire – has elected to add 60 of its sites to the HPSN2 network and take advantage of lower voice costs and facilitate joint working between health and councilemployed social care teams. At the recently refurbished Public Service Plaza in Havant, hundreds of public sector staff from a range of different organisations including Havant Borough Council and a Hampshire County Council team all use HPSN2 for their voice (and data) needs; the core telephony and connectivity to support them is located across the county in Winchester. Other authorities including East Hampshire District Council have also chosen to migrate their voice traffic.
This growing usage helps drive down the overall unit costs for the core network still further, and also provides an incentive to add new services, including call recording and reporting using additional Avaya equipment. Both Avaya and Dimension Data are encouraged to propose new add-ons, via Virgin Media Business; different authorities can then invest in the service and charge their peers for usage in a true shared service model.
Contact Centre Excellence
One key extra solution has been Avaya Aura Call Center Elite, introduced at Hampshire County Council’s main contact centre, HantsDirect to replace an outdated system from a different provider. Implementation went without a hitch, and contact centre staff are very happy with the new environment. It also links in neatly to the core network.
The success of this implementation has meant a similar solution is now planned to underpin the forthcoming project to deliver a joint back office for Hampshire County Council, Hampshire Fire and Rescue Services and Hampshire Constabulary. The joint back office will cover HR, finance and payroll services for the three organisations, delivering valuable cost savings for all – and will have a single Avaya Aura contact centre to handle enquiries.
A Model Network
With the core network proving its value, and Hampshire County Council and its partners increasingly confident in adding services, Virgin Media Business has helped other local authorities introduce a PSN along similar lines. But it is Hampshire that remains the acknowledged model, providing input to the Cabinet Office on best practice in shared services – and saving an estimated £1m per year through HPSN2. The Avaya IP telephony network is an integral element of that saving.
Hampshire County Council provides services to 1.3 million people in England.
Hampshire County Council is one of largest and most forward-thinking local authorities in England. It provides services to 1.3 million people, and manages an annual spend of just under £1.9 billion. It has 35,000+ staff and works closely with a range of partner authorities including 11 borough and district councils. In 1999, it launched one of the first public service networks anywhere in the world.