A Birmingham prep school has swapped its outdated telephone system for a state-of-the-art, cloud-based one from Worcestershire firm Armstrong Bell - and is now saving hundreds of pounds a year as a result.

The Blue Coat School in the Edgbaston area of the city is the second-largest prep school in England, with 600 pupils aged 2-11 and 200 staff. It prides itself on offering a nurturing environment for its young students and providing a cutting-edge approach to learning.

However, its phone system was in desperate need of an update. Not only did it rely on a basic infrastructure, the handsets were no longer available on the market and therefore finding spare parts for repairs was proving difficult.

Frankie Paterson, IT manager at The Blue Coat School, explained: "We looked at upgrading our phone system a number of years ago but other projects had to take precedence. The infrastructure was incredibly basic. The 27 miles of fibre needed to be replaced and with that, new wifi had to be installed.

"We had transitioned to working in the cloud and I realised we would benefit massively from having our phone system on the cloud, too.”

The Blue Coat School asked three suppliers to submit tenders and Armstrong Bell’s proposal stood out, not just for the sophisticated system it had recommended, but also because of the support package and cost-saving potential.

Armstrong Bell recommended ‘Venture’, the latest generation of hosted Cloud-based systems. As a premium hosted IP telephony service, it has a wide range of features and benefits, including call park, pick-up and group calls, caller ID and anonymous caller blocking, automatic call back, do not disturb, programmable quick dial numbers, call groups, call and voicemail notification, forwarding by email and SMS, music on hold, and desktop CTI integration.

“When exploring our options we found that Armstrong Bell offered the best product for the best price,” said Frankie, who has worked at The Blue Coat School for seven years.

The all-inclusive costing meant that the Venture telephone system would come with a flat licence, so that everything - from voicemail, voice recording, phone data reports, and call forwarding - was included in the price.

The school ordered 77 handsets.

“The solution from Armstrong Bell meant that from just one subscription per handset we were able to incorporate all of the features,” said Frankie. “By comparison, other companies were looking to sell the additional features as 'add-ons', or in layers.”

The ultra-reliable Venture system means that as long as the school has internet access, the telephones will work.

The school will also benefit from significantly lower telephone bills. The old system cost the school an average of £400 a month just for calls. It also had to spend around £1,500 a year for support and maintenance, while further costings for a technician had to be factored in to deal with any system failures.

It now expects its bills to be slashed by around £800 per year because the Armstrong Bell Venture system has 3,000 minutes per handset included with the subscription cost of £8.90 a month per handset. In addition, there are no costly maintenance fees or hidden costs.

“To be honest, it wasn't about finding the cheapest price, though; we just needed to find the best value solution for the school,” added Frankie.

Armstrong Bell’s expert team migrated to the Venture system during the Easter holiday and it took just three days to complete. Key school staff received full training on how to use it and have been so pleased with the system’s performance, they added another six handsets.

“So far we've found the system brilliant; it’s just so flexible. Because everything works on the cloud, we're able to unplug handsets and move things around if we need to without worrying about setting it up - it just works,” said Frankie.

Will Copley, Managing Director of Armstrong Bell, said: "We've been working with The Blue Coat School for a number of months so by the time the school was ready to make a decision on the products and service they wanted, Frankie had full confidence in our business.

"It's always gratifying to work with a school and help save them money that they simply don't need to be spending."

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

PR by Clive Reeves PR in Birmingham

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