The Stowe Valley Multi Academy Trust (MAT) was set up in April 2017 as a collaborative partnership between community primary and secondary schools in and around the Southam area. Central to the ethos of the Trust is a belief that all children should have the very best of chances to fulfill their potential through stimulating and memorable educational experiences.
The old system at Southam College was a Toshiba which was dated and clunky to use. With three outgoing ISDN lines and limited support, the IT team felt now was the time to change. Furthermore, with the establishment of the Trust it was a good opportunity to put in place a telephony platform capable of being rolled out to all of its constituent schools.
Key requirements then were for a modular system that could be phased across the schools as and when individual school contracts/leases came to an end. This would ensure the solution was cost-effective as possible and there would be no expensive settlements.
The Trust went out to market for a new system and obtained three quotes. HBT had previously spoken to Stephen Hardy, IT Director and therefore were invited to tender.
HBT Communications proposed a software-based solution for Stowe Valley Multi Academy Trust (MAT). The HBT solution is a centralised telephony platform that will be distributed to all schools within the MAT. A key aspect of the new system is the ability for staff to move across the sites without changing contact numbers, this will promote increased collaboration across the schools. The new system is being phased into the school to tie in with budgets and end of leases to ensure it is as cost-effective as possible.
HBT are now working with the MAT to unify their IT and Security.
The solutions proposed by the other two companies were traditional solutions. HBT proposed a VoIP solution which is software based, the system is both feature rich and because it is software based is future proof, there are no expensive update costs.
As part of the selection process the Trust had also considered Skype as an option but had decided to go with HBT’s solution due to its versatility Swyx was also the only solution proposed that had the ability to integrate into their existing network environment, therefore no requirement for expensive hardware.
The key features that differentiated HBT’s solution from the competition were:
- Call Recording – The call recording helps with the safeguarding of children and staff and is a real enabler in terms of training.
- Screen Dialling – with most people using their computer throughout the day, it is easy for staff to dial straight from the screen via the Swyx skin
- Mobile Integration – this gives users the ability to download an app so they can receive office calls on their mobile wherever they are. This has enabled staff to move around the trust and still be available to take important calls
- Fixed monthly costs – the solution implemented is on a monthly model, so the trust can budget effectively
- Concurrent licencing – enables licences to be shared across users and departments. Furthermore, users do not require a telephone extension and can still have voicemail, DDI and the ability to log onto any device to make calls
- Voice Mail to Email –this makes voice mail easily retrievable and not device dependant
- Implemented into a virtual environment – this also negated the need for any hardware investment, the Swyx was installed into their existing servers saving them money and time.
The final decision was made by the Trust Board. Once the decision was made, the solution was deployed within a month and scheduled over half-term to ensure the least disruption to the school.
Stephen Hardy, IT Director found the move went very smoothly, “the deployment was really quick as most of the system was set up remotely. It was then just a case of setting up the phones – physically unboxing them and putting them out.”
“It has really changed the way reception operates, they now have the ability to use the Swyx skin to see when users are available, away or busy without having to dial their number. Our monthly costs are less than what they were before, with far more functionality. “
Cost was not the key driver for the Trust, we liked the fact that HBT wouldn’t put something in they didn’t believe was the right solution for the school.