Shoalhaven council ditches PABX for VoIP

Future-proofing drives upgrade, project ROI two to three years

Shoalhaven City Council has rolled out IP telephony after its 12-year-old PABX system was deemed unusable by council staff.

A spokesperson from the council's telecommunications department said the maturity of VoIP technology enabled the upgrade.

“Future-proofing our solution for the life of the system of eight to 12 years was a big consideration and VoIP was the only real alternative,” the spokesperson said.

Support for the aging hardware and software of the council's PABX system had degraded to the point that maintaining it "was no longer an acceptable business risk".

“Functionally, the old system did not allow us to do any of the systems integration we knew would be required over the next decade.”

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The council went to market, choosing to deploy with Interactive Intelligence.

Council staff conducted reviews of all systems on offer, including site visits and demonstrations. "The final decision to go with Interactive Intelligence lay primarily in its software focus.”

The rollout involved a steep learning curve for the IT team, with council staff members needing retraining as part of the upgrade.

“At the support level, data and voice staff have had to merge skill sets and relevant priorities,” the spokesperson said.

“End users have had to go deal with a policy shift and technology up-skilling to allow them to take full advantage of the potential efficiency gains of the systems through status visibility and more flexible call routing alternatives.”

ROI will be achieved across the council's 40 satellite sites over a two to three year period. “This is mainly through reductions in PSTN [public switched telephone network] and leased line carrier services and reduced call costs. The flexibility of the system to deal with outages also provides a level of business continuity that was impossible to provide before.”

The rollout has meant the team are now able to deliver consistent service to its ratepayers.

“Overall we are now able to better deliver on the specific call routing requirements of the individual groups of council whilst also delivering a far more consistent calling experience for our rate payers.”

During the next 12 months staff will focus on completing the rollout of VoIP to the remaining council sites, with the spokesperson saying that they hope to replace its main corporate operational applications in the process.

Follow Lisa Banks on Twitter: @CapricaStar

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAu

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