RSPCA chooses IP to care for more animals more efficiently. The Solution improves communications, saved over £2 million over three to five years, and allows the RSPCA to make the most of its resources.
The charity has an estimated staff of 1,700, with 350 of them at headquarters and 500 mobile inspectors or animal collection officers. It has multiple regional headquarters, animal centres, animal clinics and hospitals. It also has 189 separately-run branches, which host 40 branch clinics and 47 animal welfare centres. Each year the charity fields upto 2 million calls on its National Cruelty and Advice Line thats about a call every 19 seconds.
Little wonder the operating budget is £71 million and that the RSPCA is keen to ensure the money goes as far as possible - like any other organisation trying to satisfy customer demands while controlling costs. The RSPCA had been running separate voice and data networks supporting a plethora of handsets, mobile phones, fax machines and messaging solutions, which were costly and complex to support.
This complexity of organisation, demand from customers and pressure on costs will be familiar to most businesses.
It decided that it would evaluate a merged voice and data network for the new headquarters. The RSPCA was keen to ensure the solution would cut up-front and continuing costs, as well as allowing it to make the most efficient use of its resources. A pilot project to create a unified communications solution that went through rigorous testing and proof of concept before any bleeding edge technology was proposed.
Once the RSPCA were satisfied with the pilot, they could apply the concept to the new headquarters. The headquarters system replaces the conventional analogue phone network and separate data network with a switched IP-enabled LAN enhanced with IP telephony and wireless options.
The physical infrastructure was provided by copper and fiber optic structured cabling. The pilot system also incorporates a unifed messaging server from TOPCALL a global unified communications company.
The TOPCALL server provides a unified messaging interface for voice, email and fax services into the existing corporate e-mail system or SAP. The network underpins a voice over IP (VoIP) strategy in which Cisco IP phones are linked directly to the building's LAN. A Cisco Call Manager routes calls to the handsets over the network. If calls are missed they are re-routed to the TOPCALL server, which records a voicemail and forwards it to the recipient's mailbox in the RSPCA's Group- Wise system.
Integrating Novell GroupWise and the TOPCALL system has also added facilities for voicemail, faxing and SMS to and from the desktop. Technical communications manager for the RSPCA, said:
"Effectively we'll halve the cost of the cabling infrastructure and halve the ammount of equipment required. The headquarters communication system will also provide a template for the rest of the RSPCA's sites countrywide. We're in a rapid process of trialling and testing the new technologies, and once we have a template for a remote site we will quite quickly roll that out around the remote sites. Network extends reach of key applications The remote sites will be linked to the headquarters by Cable & Wireless Frame Relay, a data connection service designed to link many sites together, using a Cable & Wireless Managed Router to control the traffic between sites.
Access to the RSPCA network will also introduce voice mail, fax to the desktop, Internet access and interactive voice response (IVR) facilities to the remote offices.
Wherever we can offer IP over the network we can offer these solutions,' potentially even on a van over a 3G wireless connection. The network will allow the RSPCA to make the most of its people, particularly in its call centres.
Using Cisco IPCC — a set of equipment, services, software and managed service options — the staff will handle customer phone calls, emails and web sessions. One service will help with managing the charity's heavy volume of phone calls. The RSPCA can now use Network IVR to enable callers to route themselves to an appropriate expert.
The charity is also using Network CTI (computer-telephony integration), which allows calls to be routed to any extension — so overflow calls can be routed to desktops anywhere in the organisation. Together these services will help the RSPCA meet its business target of prioritising every message it receives. By building applications into the ‘IP cloud' you unshackle the need to have bums on seats in a particular location, As long as they have connectivity and quality of service they could be sitting anywhere. They could even be people in other organisations. E-commerce saves animals and resources The RSPCA is using Web Based Solutions and content management services to handle a number of e-commerce initiatives. One is a database which tracks where rescued animals are being treated. Currently a collection officer who has rescued a sick animal has to call around RSPCA sites until they find one that has capacity to treat the animal.
Accessing the database over a mobile extension of the network would mean the officer could see immediately which facilities were available, saving time and improving efficiency."
The RSPCA needed its new communications infrastructure to save money and increase efficiency.