Longhurst Group is a non-profit housing association providing social housing and care and support services across the Midlands and East of England. They own and manage more than 23,500 homes, have more than 80 care and support locations and employ around 1,200 people.
Longhurst is also developing a programme of affordable housing, which sees homes made available on several different tenures such as shared ownership, rent to buy and affordable rent. The Group also operates leasehold properties and provide specialist care for customers with varying needs.
The organisation has been transitioning from using Skype for Business to Microsoft Teams. Largely driven by the impact of Covid-19, which forced most of the workforce to work remotely, they knew they needed to upgrade their business communications technology.
Having traditionally operated their own telephony hardware on site, a decision was made to modernise the systems and move across to a cloud-based telephony platform. Jason Hanger, Cloud Solutions Engineer at Longhurst Group, explains more: “We needed a scalable and modern product to continue supporting our Unified Comms needs. As part of this move to Microsoft Teams, we needed to provide telephony services into it.”
They decided they needed to unify their business communications and turn Microsoft Teams into their all-in-one cloud-based PBX using Gradwell’s Microsoft Teams Direct Routing solution.
“Good communication is the backbone of our organisation. Allowing our customers to keep in touch with us and our colleagues, in turn, being able to keep in touch with them is particularly important to us as an organisation. If we didn’t employ a robust solution, our reputation could be damaged, and we could see our operational effectiveness suffer as a result.” Jason Hanger added.
The company had already looked at several options for providing telephony via Microsoft Teams. Once they found Gradwell, they went ahead with a trial of our Microsoft Teams Direct Routing solution, “Gradwell’s offering was cost-effective and, after trialling the solution, it seemed very robust.”
Microsoft Teams Direct Routing has proven to be an effective method of unifying communications and moving away from Skype for Business “All of our colleagues are now making use of Teams with Gradwell’s Direct Routing as a Service solution… We now have a highly available modern unified communications and telephony platform which requires little input from ICT technical staff.”
“All of our colleagues are now making use of Teams with Gradwell’s Direct Routing as a Service solution… We now have a highly available modern unified communications and telephony platform which requires little input from ICT technical staff.”
One of the major benefits of turning Teams into an organisation’s PBX is the cost savings that can be made. When compared to Microsoft’s own calling plans, Direct Routing is almost always the preferable way to get PBX functionality from Teams, and this is something that Longhurst Group has benefitted from. “From the get-go, Gradwell came across as a flexible and proactive organisation. Compared to other providers, Gradwell’s solution also provided us with great value for money. It also offered us significant savings in comparison to our existing telephony solution.”
The company Is gradually moving across all their colleagues to Microsoft Teams with the final cohort set to transition towards the end of the year. Bringing Longhurst Group into the 21st century via Teams Direct Routing has enabled the organisation to streamline its communications without the transition taking up the valuable time of staff.
Internal communication has improved as a result of Gradwell’s Microsoft Teams Direct Routing solution. The team now has a whole host of new features and options when it comes to communication and collaboration
In terms of the wider business, they anticipate being able to free up capital to continue developing ICT services for colleagues and customers when the whole organisation has transitioned to Microsoft Teams. Features such as video calling, Office 365 integration, file transfers, instant messaging, and the ability to smoothly work from anywhere have been invaluable to the business.
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