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August 5, 2013

Case Study: Charity puts trust in Siemens’ unified communications platform

The Prince's Trust uses Siemens OpenScape Office LX to enable out-of-office work.

By Claire Vanner

The Prince’s Trust is a youth charity that offers practical and financial support to 13 to 30 year-olds who have struggled at school, been in care, are long-term unemployed or have been in trouble with the law.

The Trust, chaired by HRH The Prince of Wales, has helped more than 750,000 young people since it was established in 1976 and continues to support hundreds more.

Problems with out-of-office work

The charity uses many remote workers, meaning that these employees need to be able to remain visible to colleagues and be responsive to the young people they work with.

The Prince’s Trust needed flexibility, mobility and security in their communications systems between the office phone, emails and mobile phones to help them to work with maximum efficiency.

One problem described by Gordon Mead, deputy director of IT at The Prince’s Trust, was the issue of workers trying to contact young people from their mobile phones.

"Very often a young person will not answer their phone if they do not know who’s ringing," he says.

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Unified communications solution

The Prince’s Trust extended its eight-year relationship with Siemens Enterprise and used their OpenScape Office LX unified communications platform to integrate mobile, landline and computer communications.

The initial roll out will cater for the 300 strong team based at the London HQ with plans in place to implement the system to over 60 offices and 2000 Trust employees, volunteers, and partners.

The platform, which integrates voice capabilities into one platform, allows users to view communications and business data in a single location and launch conference calls from desktops.

Features including the myPortal user interface also help users to improve customer service by allocating calls to the appropriate person and linking relevant client information to incoming calls automatically.

Mead says: "We were impressed with the platform and also the fact that we could install it in a phased roll out with the present system and it wouldn’t effect it and that is what we’ve done, we’ve moved to a new head office early March this year and we took the opportunity to move to SiP trunking and install the new LX office unified communications sys from Siemens."

The OpenScape LX system has its own internal directory, so users can see when other users are on the phone and when they don’t want to be disturbed. It is also connected to Outlook and provides immediate updates to phone records.

Employees can dial in if they are out-of-office to change their voicemail as well as being able to dial into the system and then dial out again. This means that the office number is broadcast from the mobile number, helping people to work effectively from outside the office by enabling the young people they work with to identify the caller.

Choosing Siemens was a "natural progression"

Mead said that using Siemens as a provider of the UC platform was a natural progression, as The Prince’s Trust has used Siemens products for the past eight years and, including a high path VoiP system connection the charity’s 38 offices.

Mead says: "One of the key factors of this choice has been the communications to staff and the users as well as the training, which we’ve been very keen to do. We’ve worked with Active Voice and Data [Siemens’ representative] and their trainers to do official training."

Cost and efficiency benefits

Trevor Connell, managing director at Siemens Enterprise Communications in Northern Europe, comments: "An increasing number of The Trust’s staff are now required to be mobile throughout the day. They need to remain visible to colleagues and be responsive to the young people they work with.

"Our UC technology will greatly enhance their ability to work collaboratively while providing a service that will motivate and support the one in five young people in the UK not in work, education or training."

Mead adds: "The big thing of this is we’re giving the control of the phone system back to the user. The user can decide exactly what they want to do, when, where and how.

"The other thing is on the technical side, as we’re linked over 38 sites we had a BT line connection problem and we were able to route the calls immediately centrally through the head office out to that location, so they didn’t lose any incoming calls that were really important, from general calls and from the young people.

"The main driver for installing this Unified Communication system was to improve efficiency and therefore reduce wasted time and resource in everyday activities. Due to the support of Siemens we have estimated that there will be a return on investment in three years. It is always difficult to estimate this type of return but even in these early days we are seeing a reduction in costs of 12% in the last two months in our phone costs."

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