Cloud-based number management equals efficient office moves and flexible working
Countless numbers of businesses relocate every year: they move to bigger premises – even smaller premises, choose to share office space with an associated business, or move to new working practices like hot-desking and flexible working. But whether it’s expanding, relocating, adding branch offices, consolidating or flexible working, it’s a transition that means a challenge for the organisation’s IT and telecoms managers who have to keep the business running without incident throughout.
The IT and telecoms systems need to be integrated quickly and effectively when a business moves, and changes made without any disruption to services that could have an adverse impact on either customers or business operations. The maintenance of an organisation’s telephone system is fundamental throughout if the business is to carry on as if nothing is happening, says James Foley, VP customer experience at BT smartnumbers.
Staff need to know that they can keep the same public-facing numbers and that they can remain contactable at all times. Calls still need to reach the right people – customers, partners and staff still need to speak to each other. In short, a business transition like relocation can become a scheduling and coordination nightmare for the staff responsible.
There’s currently a public sector initiative that IT managers in the private sector might do well to study. “One Public Estate” is seeing a number of the UK’s public sector organisations come together to make better use of available space and assets, and to change the way they operate. Delivered jointly by the LGA and the Cabinet Office’s Government Property Unit (GPU), its aim is to drive efficiency and deliver value for money for the taxpayer.
In the three years since its launch, 100 councils in 24 partnerships across the UK have become part of One Public Estate, and the Government’s spending review last November allocated another £31m ($40.35m) to expand it further. Councils are being invited to apply for up to £500,000 ($650,885) towards rationalisation work, with the goal of having every council in the UK involved in One Public Estate projects in the next two years.
The advent of community ‘hubs’ that combine several public services under one roof promises to make life more convenient for the people that use them and should aid a more joined-up approach to the provision of services, as well as breathing new life into local communities by generating upwards of 20,000 jobs within the next five years.
While estate rationalisation can present significant challenges, it’s obviously a valuable opportunity to assess and modernise both technology and working practices. Unsurprisingly one of the biggest areas of focus for the public bodies going through the One Public Estate initiative is to create a public sector culture that is more agile and responsive to customers.
Public sector bodies like local councils, NHS Trusts and other vital services, need to avoid changing telephone numbers – the last thing they want to do is educate the public around a change of numbers or worse still miss a critical call because of confusion over what number to call.
Northampton Borough Council, for instance, delivers Callcare – a community alarm service that provides a critical lifeline round-the-clock, 365 days a year for elderly and vulnerable people. When the organisation decided to close one of its sites as part of an estate rationalisation, it was imperative that disruption to the Callcare service was kept to an absolute minimum during the relocation.
The council used BT smartnumbers’ cloud-based number management service – being cloud-based, it needs no additional hardware or software – to route calls to any location: BT smartnumbers provides DDI by DDI number management, so it bypasses the PBX, local PSTN or SIP exchange and eliminates the risk of missing calls. And crucially, Callcare didn’t need to change its telephone numbers, nor was there any discernible change in service for the people who depend on it. So calls made to existing numbers were delivered to staff who were best placed to receive them, to any dialable number, including mobiles and home numbers.
Such cloud-based services offer greater levels of control than solutions like SIP trunking and other call diversion alternatives, which can only direct all numbers to one location. And with such cloud-based services in place, organisations can continue to realise the benefits of flexible number management long after their period of transition is over, allowing them to break free of their geographical location and respond wherever they are needed.
The author of this blog is James Foley, VP customer experience, BT smartnumbers.
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