Ringwood School has worked with ITEC to put in place a new Mitel phone system that is significantly cheaper to run and maintain, much more flexible in terms of configuring changes and far easier for the Ringwood technical team to manage themselves. In 2016 ITEC had already been responsible for putting in place a Managed Print solution that in the space of 12 months dramatically impacted the school’s cost base.
Ringwood School in Hampshire is a large secondary Academy school with more than 1,600 students and 250 staff. Near to the New Forest National Park and the Dorset World Heritage Coastline, the school became an Academy in 2011.
In terms of its communications, the school used to rely on an analogue phone system running on ISDN lines. This was old and beginning to creak, making parts and maintenance increasingly difficult. There were simply too many points of failure – even as the bills mounted up.
Worse, the old phone system was inflexible. Every change to the system, no matter how small, incurred a minimum charge of £70 from the school’s supplier. When the school opened a new building, and requested four extensions for it, the supplier’s estimate for the work ran into thousands of pounds – which proved to be the death knell of the old system and the trigger for change.
The school’s leadership was initially unconvinced of the need to change, fearing that a modern system would incur considerable expense. Network Manager Stephen Loader quickly discovered that installing a new system versus maintaining the existing one was cost-neutral – with a new system bringing the potential to save substantially on call and maintenance costs into the future. So Stephen was able to put forward a compelling business case for change.
The school went out to tender to three different suppliers and took the decision to work with ITEC in June 2016. Ringwood opted for the Mitel MiVoice Office 250 system, bought on a 5-year lease including SIP trunking. This system was installed in August in under three days and thoroughly tested in good time for the start of the new school year.
ITEC ran training sessions for key staff so everyone felt confident and the new system proved particularly popular with reception. They were able to carry on using the same Bluetooth headsets and could make use of the Phone Manager application to see who was available. There have been other changes, too – for example, there is no longer a need to keep paper copies of the phone directory stuck to walls around the school.
ITEC recommended Mitel as the optimum technology for the new phone system and Stephen Loader was keen on this choice. In his words: “Mitel is the industry leader with a large customer base. There is a sizeable Mitel community on the Internet on whom to draw for tips and insights. It came as a pleasant surprise when the market leading product was also the most competitive in the tender process.”
A big advantage of the new ITEC-installed system is that Stephen and his team can make configuration changes themselves, using the Mitel administration portal. For example, they can alter someone’s extension or assign voicemail without needing to contact their supplier, wait for a response and rack up unnecessary costs. “ITEC is there to give us expert backup support, but we can take care of much of the day to day stuff ourselves,” says Stephen.
Stephen is positive in his view of ITEC’s role in the successful adoption of a new phone system: “The engineers have been expert, very professional and highly responsive. It has helped to make the transition to a new phone system exceptionally smooth and pain-free for everyone here at the school.”
The new system will support some interesting enhancements. One plan is to integrate it with the school’s MIS (management Information System) so that the phone system immediately recognises parents when they ring the school.
The new system also supports the recording of calls – which is potentially extremely useful in a school setting. It means a call can be easily recorded and converted into an MP3 file which is promptly sent to the appropriate email in-box.
Voicemail messages can also be forwarded to emails, which is particularly useful for those staff who move around the school a lot in the course of the day. Now, they can listen to voicemails wherever they happen to be in the school.
Ringwood’s relationship with ITEC dates back to the start of 2016 when ITEC was first brought in to help the school with its printing and photocopying challenges.
In 2015 the school had printed 8 million pages. With an ITEC Managed Print solution in place for 2016, this went down to 4.3 million pages the following year – leading to an estimated saving of at least £18,000 on paper and toner costs.
In the process Ringwood had moved on from a fleet of more than 80 printers that were old, prone to breaking down and causing immense frustration both for users and for the technical team. Today, printing is done via 18 MFPs Ricoh MFPs with Follow Me and PaperCut software installed. As well as driving cost savings, these have proved ultra-reliable and so made everyone’s life easier.
The transition to a new phone system was exceptionally smooth and pain-free for everyone here at the school.
When we wanted to make changes to the old phone system, we used to have to wait for our supplier to respond and incur expenses in the process. Now we can make many of the day to day changes ourselves, so it’s quicker, easier and cheaper to make changes. And we know that ITEC is there with superb support when we need it.