Case study: Cloud phone system
Based in Teddington, Amazing Internet provides a range of professional, affordable and effective websites and designs to suit any budget, with special emphasis on photographers and all other types of artists.
Founder and owner of Amazing Internet, Andrew Skirrow, heads up a team of five co-workers, three based at the Teddington office and two who operate remotely. Communication between team members and clients is important, especially given the highly interactive and iterative nature of the work.
“Over the years our business model has changed,” says Andrew. “Previously we were all in the same office, were able to communicate face to face and just had one phone system serving the business. Now we have team members working remotely, from home, and there is greater flexibility in how we operate.”
When the business started up, Amazing Internet had a couple of BT ISDN lines as well as an analogue line, but Andrew moved the company from one location to another in Teddington, he decided to switch to a VoIP (Voice over IP) set up.
“The move forced our hand because we had at least one other person wishing to work from home,” he explains, “but it also aligned with our strategy of moving our main office infrastructure into the Cloud. A switch to VoIP meant that we could be more flexible, not just in terms of remote working, but we could avoid the pain and cost of getting new phones in for new people as the business grows. I also liked the idea that we could move and plug our phones as we liked.”
The company chose a Samsung OfficeServ system but Andrew found that it was too complicated to run. “I very much liked the concept of VoIP, but it had to be the right system and set up for us which the OfficeServ wasn’t,” says Andrew. “We did consider building a VoIP system ourselves as we have technical skills in-house, but ultimately our preference was to bring in experts and we decided to look for an alternative supplier who could provide the right system with the features we desired.”
Andrew undertook some research on the web and was keen on finding a VoIP provider that didn’t lock customers into proprietary systems. He explains: “The Open Source ethos was important and I liked the fact that Foehn had written its own system – that was a important consideration in our decision to go with Foehn.”
“We also had several other requirements,” he adds, “including the ability to reconfigure the system easily ourselves, re-route calls if a team member was out and also automatically switch calls to mobiles. And we also needed it to be expandable as we potentially have support staff working from home.”
Andrew contacted Foehn and talked through the process and his desired wish list with a member of the Foehn team. Foehn supplied a spreadsheet of requirements that were in line with the business and communications needs of Amazing Internet.
Within a week of agreeing the details of Amazing Internet’s new telephony system, the company was ready to make and receive calls following what was largely a trouble free installation by Foehn.
“The overriding reason for choosing a new VoIP system was the flexibility that it offered with members of staff working out of locations of their choice,” says Andrew. “We also benefit from low set up and running costs, which is important for a business such as ours working more and more in the cloud.”
Owning another business, Camden Music, Andrew has also been able to utilize the same phone system for that company, as he explains: “With two companies, it’s really useful to have the same system with one billing arrangement and also the ability to identify which business the caller is contacting. Small details like this can make a big difference.”