Worcestershire-based telecommunications firm Armstrong Bell has provided a feature-packed new telephone system to South Bromsgrove School, improving connectivity across the school and enabling it to exploit new technologies.

Replacing a costly and inflexible ISDN system, Armstrong Bell supplied and installed a modern, hosted VOIP solution complete with a package of features and benefits to support the school’s internal and external communications. With 150 staff and 1,300 students, the school required a local supplier that could provide a system that was easily adaptable, would provide advanced call handling features and one that would exploit the school’s existing high-speed broadband connection.

Armstrong Bell worked closely with the school’s IT manager to identify its requirements. A trial phone was also provided ahead of installation for training, to see how the system operated and to check firewall and security setup ahead of the rollout of 60 handsets across the school.

Janet Lines, facilities manager at South Bromsgrove School, said: “Phones are an important service that we have to have, and our old ISDN system was archaic. Every time we wanted to make a change, such as someone’s name on the system, we had to have people come in to do it - making maintenance of the system slow and expensive. We needed something that would allow us to make use of our high-speed internet connection, introduce voicemail for all staff and allow us to use headsets - something our previous system didn’t support.

“We also wanted to work with a local company for our new system. Armstrong Bell is based just down the road from us and provided us with a quote that was easy to understand and interpret, not 50 pages long. We also knew that a local supplier would be able to provide a better quality of support and pop in to fix any issues or deliver new products. We were also able to visit the company’s offices to see a demo of the system in operation.”

The system has put control of the phones back in the school’s hands through an online portal. The addition of an auto attendant allows messages to be put onto an automated system, passing information to pupils and parents when they call. Phones can also be moved across the site, allowing for a phone to be set up wherever there is access to a data point. Integration with Microsoft Outlook allows for users to make calls directly from their computers.

“The installation of the new system was done over the school holidays in around a day. Logistically, we had a challenge getting training on the new system done - we needed to install the system during the holidays but couldn’t get people in to train them. The handover from the old system to new took less than a day and we had almost no down time. An Armstrong Bell engineer was then on site on the first day back at school to provide training to staff at the coalface.

“The new system has already had an impact. Just a few days after the install we had a power cut. Normally this would leave us without phones, however because our new system is hosted off site, we could log in to the portal and divert calls to a mobile remotely,” Janet added.

William Copley, managing director at Armstrong Bell, said: “Being local to the school really gave us an edge. We were able to visit the school, provide training and support, and demonstrate the system to them before they committed.

“Our team worked closely with the school’s facilities and network managers to provide a smooth transition to the new system, keeping downtime to a minimum. A team of three Armstrong Bell engineers installed the system out of school time and we provided a full day of training for staff on the first day back."

Vikki Street, attendance office at South Bromsgrove School and Jamie Danvers, engineer at Armstrong Bell.

Vikki Street, attendance office at South Bromsgrove School and Jamie Danvers, engineer at Armstrong Bell.

For more information about Armstrong Bell, visit www.armstrongbell.co.uk

PR by Clive Reeves Public Relations Birmingham

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