Ombudsman Organisations Deliver Better Service for Less Cost since Moving Telecoms to the Cloud

Keen to improve service delivery and value for money, the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) and the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) have made significant productivity and efficiency gains since implementing a new cloud telephone system from Foehn.  Furthermore, since moving to the new system, PHSO is saving £50,000 per annum and the LGO is saving at least 30% on the phone and network system costs. 

Challenges faced by the public sector 

The majority of people contact an Ombudsman when they are unhappy with poor service. They do not want to have their frustrations compounded when their calls are greeted with complex processes or inefficient systems.  Equally, for all public sector bodies, funding new systems is always a financial challenge that has to deliver value to the tax payer. 

Generally, it is accepted that telephony systems which are over five years old incur a significant opportunity-cost arising from diminishing efficiency of aging features that do not provide the savings and flexibility of modern equivalents. In addition, the direct cost of maintaining and upgrading an old telephony system also increases over time whilst other resources, such as staff and management time, are incurred unnecessarily. 

Now, with cloud-based telephone systems proven to streamline working practices at a lower cost, public sector organisations are taking more than a passing interest in how they can save money and improve the efficiency of their operations. That includes the PHSO and the LGO, both keen to benefit from the modern technology available as their existing systems approached end of life. 

“The phone system is pivotal to the operation of the PHSO because we rely on it for incoming calls from people wishing to learn more about our service or to begin the process of making a complaint,” says Nicky Dowland, IT Manager Services Manager at the PHSO. 

Procurement: G-Cloud and the Digital Marketplace 

Both the PHSO and LGO were keen to avoid the lengthy, drawn out tendering process often associated with Public Sector procurement. Access to G-Cloud, one of the Crown Commercial frameworks, means that finding the right supplier and procuring a new system can be achieved and implemented in much less time. The Digital Marketplace provides a list of pre-qualified suppliers that can be filtered to match the exact criteria required to deliver a project at a competitive price. It was this process that led the PHSO and the LGO to select open source, cloud phone specialist Foehn to design and deliver their new telephony systems. 

Transformation and improvement of services 

Aside from the cost savings traditionally associated with maintenance and management of cloud technology, the ability to rethink services and how they can be delivered more effectively is a huge incentive for change. 

The PHSO’s Foehn telephony system has been running since the beginning of 2016. It comprises 500 seats, 300 at its London Millbank office and 200 in Manchester, as well as two call centres with 24 and 9 seats, respectively. A key transformation is the PHSO’s ability to integrate the new phone system with its case management system, providing call recording and accurate call reporting and analysis. 

“Overall the new phone system has enabled us to improve productivity, increase efficiencies and deliver a more reliable and better service to people,” explains Nicky Dowland, IT Services Manager at the PHSO. 

The LGO’s call centre team takes calls from members of the public, as well as other advisory bodies, supported by a full IVR system, call recording, call queuing and call management system, all aimed at giving employees the flexibility to work in a more agile way.

“The new Foehn system supports the changes that we’ve made to the organisation and, going forward, will continue to help us improve the critical services that we provide,” says Adrian Beaumont, LGO IT Manager. 

Financial benefits

Modern, cloud-based communications systems are uniquely placed to deliver a better, more efficient and effective technology for less money. This was a driving factor for change at the LGO and PHSO, each recognising that it could make significant cost savings without impairing service delivery. 

PHSO is now saving in the region of £50,000 per annum with a new phone system that still has a lot more productivity-boosting features than its predecessor. Overall, the LGO is now saving at least 30% on the phone and network system costs and yet has 50% faster network connections than before. 

Read the full case studies for both Ombudsman organisations and watch the video of Adrian Beaumont, IT manager at LGO discuss their new system here


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