11 October 2016
Owning and managing over 27,000 London homes (and counting), for 80,000 residents is a mammoth task. It requires exceptional organisation, big budgets and vast numbers of staff. Yet for Peabody, one of the oldest and largest housing associations in the capital, that’s just where the requirements start. They also rely on first-class technology infrastructure and market-leading telecommunications to get their crucial job done.
However, in 2015 Peabody realised that they had a problem. Because of mass consolidation in the housing association sector, they required IT centralisation to bring the constituent parts of their technology infrastructure together in a single hub. That meant tackling a telecoms system dispersed in silos across the capital and beyond.
Peabody needed to make a change. Not only to drive efficiency, but to improve how they operate day-to-day and improve the lives of their tenants.
The drive to change
Budgetary cuts and changes to their sector meant that Peabody’s organisation expanded and developed in a very short space of time. Consolidation had brought several previously separate organisations together. And budget cuts coming down from central government had impressed upon Peabody the need to find savings and efficiencies, wherever they could.
Naturally, one of the areas Peabody looked at was telephony and tech. Their situation was that they had to manage a communications system spread out across multiple sites and locations, often with products from a variety of different providers.
The immediate goal was to bring everything together, reducing the confusion that can arise with a suite of IT products that vary in age, functionality and compatibility. As well as cutting back on admin that dealing with multiple providers requires, and giving a better front line service to everyone who deals with their association, on any level.
A new solution
At the time Gamma’s relationship with Peabody began (following a successful bid on the European Journal framework), they were working with multiple contact centres, a variety of fixed PBX telephony systems, and a separate mobile network.
With the goal of an integrated, holistic, end-to-end communications solution, Gamma got to work. We merged the contact centres into one central hub, and implemented improved mobile and conferencing solutions, enabling closer connections between premises across London. Then, by moving fixed and mobile communications into the cloud, Peabody not only enabled flexible working for its staff, but substantially cut down on maintenance needs through the removal of all physical telecommunications infrastructure.
Through a more rational and easily operated cloud service, Peabody vastly improved the cost and labour efficiency of their telecommunications solution. Call analysis and data insight allowed them to change how they managed their workforce, scheduling the right number of contact centre workers, at the right times of day to resolve tenant issues. And cloud-enabled remote working now means that staff could work from home if needed, or during times of travel or weather disruption.
However, the benefits for Peabody have not stopped there.
Making a difference
Part of Peabody’s remit as a public body is to improve the lives of the people who use its services. They do this by providing homes, creating communities and employing some of their tenants to create a sense of purpose and belonging.
By providing detailed on-site training to Peabody employees, Gamma empowered the association to own the management of its telecommunications systems. Those employees are now trainers in their own right, and are able to assist with the hiring and professional development of tenants, directly contributing to one of Peabody’s core aims. It’s a great way of showcasing how technology can make a difference in the public sector, in more ways than one.
11 October 2016 | Sam Winterbottom
The views in this article are the personal views of the author and are not necessarily endorsed by Gamma.