Cloud Phone System

Delivered by Foehn

The Customer

Situated near Manchester, Parrs Wood High is a large school that caters for nearly 2,000 students aged 11-18, including a thriving Sixth Form that has a proven record of academic excellence for A-level study.

Historically the school had built and managed its own IT infrastructure in-house, employing a team of internal technicians that was also responsible for the development and maintenance of its VoIP (Voice over IP) school telephone system.

The Challenge

When it came to changing and upgrading its IT system earlier this year, the school believed that it could rebuild its own telephone system but quickly realised that the level of complexity far outweighed the school’s in-house skills and capabilities.

The school’s examination results were due to be published in August and there was a danger that no phone system would be in place at potentially the busiest time of the year for making and receiving phone calls to and from parents, universities, other individuals and organisations.

“We had just a week to sort the situation out,” says Claire Wright, Deputy Headteacher at Parrs Wood. “As if that wasn’t stressful enough, I was also on holiday in the Lake District with a patchy mobile reception and my job was to try and get in place a fully functioning new telephone system by the end of the week!”

An Internet search revealed a number of potential telecoms suppliers, including independent managed communications provider Foehn.

“I called them and asked if it was possible to equip us with a phone system by Friday, really in hope more than expectation, especially as they are based in Richmond in Surrey,” recalls Claire. “At the same time, I was keen that any supplier wouldn’t take advantage of our situation, so I made it clear to their sales team that we also wanted a value for money solution, good service and a support contract that was in line with our needs.”

The Solution

“From the moment I called them, they were excellent,” explains Claire. “To begin with, their sales team was first class. They immediately gave me the confidence that they could actually provide us with a phone system against a very tight deadline. I set the targets and they said they could achieve them.”

Despite their confidence, Foehn had their work cut out. As well as contending with Claire’s patchy phone calls from the Lake District, they were required to capture data such as phone extensions and names from the school’s old phone system, which was no longer operational. Not to be deterred, they achieved these tasks and by Wednesday had one of their technical staff in situ at the school.

And by Friday – just four days after Claire’s plea for assistance – the school had in place a 90% finished brand new phone system. Some tweaks and changes were required subsequently, but overall the school had a reliable and robust phone system in place, ready to be used to receive and make calls.

“We were absolutely blown away by their service,” comments Claire. “During my calls with them, it was clear that there technical staff were completely on the ball and knew exactly what we needed and in what time frame.”

As well as instilling confidence that they could perform “mission impossible”, Foehn offered a solution that was also competitively priced against two other suppliers that Claire had reviewed. The school also took up a modest maintenance contract from Foehn initially, but has since upped the level of support because of its trust in the company based on its experiences.

“Within a week of contacting Foehn, we had our new phone system in place and were prepared to handle the exam results as we would at any normal time. That was a relief and I’m not sure that many companies could have achieved what they did.”

Claire Wright, Deputy Headteacher at Parrs Wood

The new telephone system is based on Asterisk, an open source framework for building communications applications. Asterisk turns an ordinary computer into a communications server and powers IP PBX systems, such as the one now used by Parrs Wood.

“Our new phone system provides us with all of the functionality that we currently require, but I can foresee a need to add in more features and functions in the future to take more advantage of it,” concludes Claire. “Right now we are still just happy to have a good telephone system in place.”

Claire Wright, Deputy Headteacher at Parrs Wood

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