Traditionally schools would have a single system on each site, even if schools are linked together. Each school site would have been responsible for their own contracts for the phone system support, line rental and call charges, engineering and software upgrades.
If you link up with a second or third school as part of a federation, that equates to two or three sets of telecoms bills that invariably do not line up in terms of contract dates. Each school could have different types of phone systems that cannot connect with one another and in addition, calls between schools will incur standard call rate charges.
These days, many schools are part of a federation or multi-academy trust (MAT), so is the single site solution still relevant? If you are trying to share resources as a group of schools, then surely the phone system is one more resource than can be shared to enjoy economies of scale per site or user cost?
The simple solution is to have one phone system that can be used by all your federated sites. However, individual schools worry they will lose their identities. That is not the case. Every school can have their own set of phone numbers, messaging and call handling schedules, but you will share and pay for a single system and set of phone lines.
Schools can also benefit from centralised management using hosted phone system technology. You can use one IT manager rather than four! Or benefit from the expertise of another IT manager when your school does not have one.
Inter-site calls are free of charge and users can be contacted via extension to extension dialling. You can identify who is available via presence functionality that is visible via PCs or handsets. Calls to UK landlines and mobile are free too.
In-built disaster recovery options mean other school sites can handle your calls if your site is inaccessible, or incoming calls can be diverted to mobile handsets. You can also change voicemail messages from a remote location to alert callers of a snow day, for example.
So, while schools retain their individuality, a hosted phone system is a resource that can be shared not only as a cost centre but also in terms of management and sharing of staff in times of need. For a four-school federation, there is no longer any need for four single phone systems.
But what if you’re not part of a federation or MAT?
As a single site, you will also benefit from a resilient system that is hosted in the cloud. There are no deployment costs and we can usually find ongoing cost savings too care of reduced line rental and call costs, especially if you have suitable connectivity in place already, such as a leased line.
You will benefit from constant evolution software upgrades to ensure your phone system is future proofed. Your support and engineering costs are built in too. You can manage your phone system and access useful call statistics from anywhere you have internet access. It is fully scalable in case you grow or do federate in the future.
We have deployed cloud-hosted phone systems for both MATs and single-site schools. You can read more about the Academy for Character and Excellence or Farnham Academy by clicking on the links.
If you are interested in progressing to a hosted phone system, please do not hesitate to contact me via LinkedIn or via firstname.lastname@example.org.