Housing charity the Peabody Trust has cut its annual communications bill by 70% by updating its telephone, fax and e-mail systems.
The Peabody Trust is one of London's largest charitable housing trusts and a registered housing association, providing over 19,500 homes across the capital. The trust's aim is to fight poverty in London by providing housing in the most disadvantaged areas. Unusually, it has its own act of Parliament, stipulating the trust's objectives to work solely within the London region for the relief of poverty.
Over recent years the trust has grown considerably and now covers all areas of Greater London. There are 330 staff working at the trust's head office, and a further 300 staff across 40 networked satellite offices in central London.
The majority of these are small offices employing only a handful of Peabody workers, each located within housing estates with different opening hours. These smaller offices serve as the trust's local contact points with residents.
Martin Paul, head of IT at the Peabody Trust, said, "Prior to late 2002 our existing technology infrastructure was ad hoc and consisted of several legacy systems. It was not integrated and not very efficient. We were wasting money by using the public network just to communicate within the organisation. This did not fit in with our obligations as a charity to be financially wise.
"We decided to upgrade our communications infrastructure with the aim of reducing costs while improving the level of service to our customers."
Peabody approached communications specialist Sabio, which recognised that the trust required a single, centralised communications platform that could support its multiple locations.
Sabio recommended a system with a hybrid approach, combining the latest Avaya Eclips and Multivantage converged communication system with the trust's existing Cisco data infrastructure.
Paul said, "As a charity, outlay cost and return on investment are critical. The Avaya Eclips and Multivantage/Cisco approach by Sabio takes advantage of our existing investment while also bringing IP telephony capabilities to the organisation, all on a single, seamlessly integrated platform.
"As a result, all voice, e-mail and fax communications in the trust now travel over the internal network without external transfer, bringing significant savings.
"With the new system we are already seeing a big drop in communication costs. We expect to save 70% in call costs over the next year and to see a return on investment after three years.
"It is important our residents can call their local Peabody office and have their query resolved directly, without being given more numbers to call.
"Before the new system, callers frequently had to dial an extra number to speak to specialised representatives when enquiring about maintenance, for example. This was frustrating for us and the callers.
"With the new system, we effectively have a virtual call centre. Callers can select options from a menu and are transferred to the relevant Peabody representative, regardless of their location across London.