The Redhill Academy Trust consists of ten secondary schools and five primary schools, each of the schools in the Trust had historically procured their own telecoms and broadband contracts. As a result, more than 20 different suppliers provided services and products to their schools.
The pricing and contracts for broadband, mobiles, phone system maintenance, phone line rentals and call charges varied greatly across the schools.
No two schools had the same phone system installed and the majority were working on old technology. This led to problems communicating internally and with parents.
It was important to audit all the schools in the Trust to ascertain what products and services were in place and how much they were paying.
The audits established what phone systems were installed, how old they were, what type of phone lines they had connected to them and all contracts that were in place. Ongoing costs for maintenance, line rentals and call charges were also obtained.
Similar analysis was conducted for each school’s mobile and broadband contract. Once the data had been analysed, reports were prepared for each of the schools. The reports provided the foundation for advising the Trust on the different options available that would improve communications, streamline the number of suppliers and save money.
One of our recommendations was that the Trust should procure a single supplier for its broadband contracts as this would lead to cost reductions. In addition to this it would assist the Trust IT team, they would only have one supplier to deal with and the same firewall and web filtering solutions to manage across all the schools.
A similar recommendation was made for mobile contracts. Consolidating all mobiles onto a single contract would reduce costs, provide greater control of which staff are allocated mobiles through a centrally managed contract and cut down on accounting processes as only one invoice would need to be processed.
Our final recommendation was that the Trust should look at implementing a phone system solution that could be rolled out to all schools when their existing contracts came to an end. This would improve communications internally and with parents, reduce costs and ensure that all schools were prepared for the BT Network Switch Off.
Prior to starting the phone system procurement we entered a consultation period with the Trust, this involved advising them of the pro’s and con’s along with pricing for installing a centralised phone system, a hosted phone system, Microsoft Teams and individual networked systems that would be installed in each of the schools. Following the consultation period it was decided that the best solution for the Trust was to procure phone systems that would be installed into each of the schools that would be networked to provide one large Trust wide phone system. This solution provided the schools with greater resiliency, the lowest total cost of ownership and improved communications. It also enabled the schools to replace their phone systems at a time that suited them rather than all schools having to change at the same time.
To kick start the phone system procurement project, system design meetings were held with each school, this enabled us to advise on the features and benefits that the new solution would bring and then design a specification that was right for each school. Once the system designs were completed the tender documentation was written and issued to companies that could deliver a project of this nature.
We reviewed all the tender responses and prepared a detailed report including information on the companies, the products that they proposed and how they compared. Various pricing tables were included enabling the schools and the Trust to compare the initial system purchase and installation price, ongoing costs for line rentals, call charges and maintenance and the total cost of ownership over 5 years.
Our reports provided the basis for further consultation with the Trust to decide which companies should be shortlisted and finally which company should be awarded the contract.
The Trusts new centrally procured broadband contract delivers faster broadband speeds along with additional backup lines that provide improved resiliency at each school. The new firewall and web filtering solutions can also be managed centrally by the Trust ICT team.
The new phone system solution provides a trust wide extension number plan, enabling any member of staff to be contacted from any location by dialing their extension number. The addition of mobile apps enables key employees to make and receive calls through the phone system regardless of their location through a mobile app installed on their mobile phones.
A range of new features such as voicemail to email, call recording and lockdown paging has brought multiple benefits ranging from improving the way in which they communicate with parents to the safeguarding of pupils and staff.
The phone systems are all future-proofed against the BT Network Switch Off and can be managed centrally by the Trusts ICT team. As part of the phone system procurement, we consolidated our line rentals, calls and maintenance contracts resulting in annual savings of over £60,000.
ICT Strategy Manager
The Redhill Academy Trust