Institute of Public Finance
Public Sector Success
As reported in Comms Business Magazine
As public services become more customer-focused, there is an increasing emphasis on accountability, achieving value for money and ensuring continuous improvement; while at the same time dealing with the challenges of advances in technology, outsourcing and changes in work patterns.
Based in Croydon, Surrey, the Institute of Public Finance (IPF) is the management support services company of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA). They specialise in giving advice on financial management, governance, property and asset management solutions, the supply of information and expertise, and the provision of people with appropriate skills to help at the most senior level.
Colin Jenkins is Assistant Director of IT at the CIPFA Group of which IPF is a wholly owned subsidiary.
“Efficient communications is key to the success of organisations such as the IPF and whilst we had been using Panasonic key telephone systems for many years, when the time came to change out our system we looked around at what was on the market. In particular we examined IP and Voice over IP systems from other manufacturers such as Alcatel, Cisco and Siemens to see if there was any benefit in adopting this new technology immediately. We concluded, having established that 95% of our calls are not made on an inter-company basis, that the benefits to be gained by moving to VoIP were just not there. The size of investment we would have to make meant that we would not see a return on investment for years."
“We decided therefore to select the Panasonic KX-TDA600 system which is IP compatible and can be upgraded to IP working very simply at a time to suit ourselves.”
Colin Jenkins, “User acceptance is one of the key criteria in introducing new systems and the fact that our staff had been very happy with the style and functionality of the Panasonic handsets indicated to me that selecting the KX-TDA would be an easy decision to make. “ Together with Palebeck Telecomms, who had supplied and maintained our previous Panasonic systems, we had a visit from Panasonic’s Technical Manager who set up a system in our boardroom in order to demonstrate the features of the new system.
“The ability to ‘double up’ phones was a major selling point for IPF. On the back of each keyphone is a second port into which you can plug another phone, which can then be independently programmed for another user. This is a big benefit and meant we could add users very quickly without having to worry about the availability of spare phone sockets being next to a desk. Clearly this feature would reduce our ongoing wiring costs.
“Another feature we were impressed with was the Panasonic Computer Telephony Integration (CTI) application. This software based feature enabled users to associate their desk phone with their PC based contact application – in our case Microsoft Outlook, and just double click a contact to make a call to them.” IPF also took the opportunity to upgrade their voice mail system to the new Panasonic KXTVM200E model.
“The new voice mail system had the ability to email voice mail messages to staff in the form of standard Windows format WAV files for playback via their PCs so they just can’t miss their messages,” said Jenkins.
Implementation Prior to installation
Colin Jenkins sent all members of staff at IPF details of the new Panasonic KX-TDA600 system requesting their comment and feedback on the system and the type of features and phone model they wanted. Panasonic Reseller, Palebeck Telecomms carried out a number of pre-installation visits to ensure that programming of the system – such as group pick-ups and other user requirements, were accommodated in the system configuration.
“The actual installation of the system could not have gone smoother,” commented Colin Jenkins, “Palebeck carried out the installation of 110 extensions, the central equipment and the system programming in one evening – albeit a late evening as I recall.
“Palebeck Telecomms were excellent throughout and went the extra mile by installing the KX-TDA600 onto new patch panels in tandem with our existing system so that all they had to do at the end was switch over the master connection. “ Despite all the new applications we chose to deploy, the KX-TDA600 remains simple to use. This can best be exampled by the amount of training we undertook. Palebeck only had to organise 20 minute training sessions with groups of ten users at a time and we were off and running.”
IPF now has a communications platform on which they can not only accommodate future growth but also explore new applications and it is their intention to extend the functionality of their existing KX-TDA600 in the near future.
Colin Jenkins, “The ability to dial out from Microsoft Outlook is great and we will be integrating this CTI feature into our own IPF database so that we can dial from this as well. We have already updated our Outlook contact list to include user extensions. This means that instead of having to look up extension lists all the time to call internally we can now use the same CTI functionality to call a colleague.” Jenkins is also looking ahead to the time when he upgrades the telephony services at the CIPFA headquarters in London and believes this could afford the organisation the opportunity to upgrade to VoIP between the sites.
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Palebeck have been the leading Panasonic telephone systems dealers in London for more than 25 years. Trusted by trade and retail alike, we are one of the few telecom dealers to have focussed solely on Panasonic products over the years.
Palebeck Telecomms were excellent throughout and went the extra mile by installing the KX-TDA600 onto new patch panels in tandem with our existing system so that all they had to do at the end was switch over the master connection.