Public-sector and nonprofit organizations have different needs and procedures than those in the enterprise space. They operate with different challenges, rules, regulations, and budgets.
Migration to cloud-based IT and communications solutions represents one challenge, due to the often onerous and time-consuming bidding and vetting process. In addition, the conservative nature of state, local government, and educational (SLED) organizations can make such entities hesitant to adopt evolving technologies.
Streamlining the Process with the Right Partner
Organizations like Sourcewell and SHI ease the RFP process by doing the most difficult work upfront—the bidding and vetting of potential vendors—and then offering partners that already meet price and reliability requirements, known as “cooperative purchasing.” The process ensures that public-sector and educational organizations benefit from a financially sound manufacturer and their partners, dedicated to their needs for the long haul. They also need to know that their new systems will be stable, reliable, and secure, while meeting all audit requirements.
Cooperative purchasing allows member organizations to satisfy or minimize the need for competitive bids. Since every state, county, and municipality has its own procurement rules and regulations, these organizations need to work with companies that understand and can meet their unique requirements.
This is particularly important in the realm of IT and communication, where technology evolves so quickly. No one is ever happy about scrapping a decades-old internal communications network, even if it does interfere with modern operations.
Evolving Technology Forces Public-Sector Change
The RFP process is difficult enough for tangible equipment like loaders, vehicles, material, etc., but it can be even more difficult when the prospective solution is less tangible and may even have evolved beyond existing rules and regulations.
One prime example is the evolution of unified communications (UC) solutions, including cloud-based communications. With the advent of integrated networking, data storage, messaging, and conferencing, many organizations are adopting hybrid systems that combine Private Branch Exchange (PBX) systems with cloud-based communications. Nevertheless, many entities’ rules and regulations are still based on physical communications equipment, not cloud-based technology.
How does an organization make new technology fit old requirements? Public-sector and educational entities may need help bridging the gap between antiquated language and current solutions. Fortunately, some organizations are committed to fulfilling that need.
Easy Procurement Meets Easy Migration
Backed by five decades in the communications technology business, Mitel is Sourcewell’s preferred unified communications (UC) vendor, selected for three consecutive terms. As a leading Mitel partner, VOIP Networks has assisted numerous government and educational organizations, all of which have had different needs, different procurement checklists, and different levels of comfort with adopting new technology, to overcome whatever unique hurdles they face.
“Because of the RFP vetting process used by Sourcewell, public-sector end users get the most competitive pricing on a nationwide basis,” says Sue Anders, Director of Government and SLED accounts for Mitel. “With those partnerships and contracts in place, it’s a huge win and timesaver for public-sector and education entities. The heavy lifting has already been done for them.”
VOIP Networks recently helped the Middlesex Board of Social Services migrate from an on-premises phone system to the Cloud9 UCaaS solution. The new system not only provided the organization with all the features they needed, such as telephony, audio/video conferencing, and unified messaging, but it also added some innovative new features, including an advanced interactive voice response (IVR) solution. With the right partner, both hybrid and cloud-based communications can still meet audit requirements.
According to Anders, “VOIP Networks is committed to Mitel as a Sourcewell selling agent and the public-sector market. They put their staff through extensive vertical sales and technical training to learn how the needs of public-sector customers differ from the enterprise space. Through continuing education and collaboration with Mitel, the company is constantly investing in its relationship with Mitel and their customers.”
Reliability Is Key
One of biggest concerns held by public-sector and educational entities about cloud-based technology is system reliability—namely, the perception that a cloud solution is not as stable or as reliable as an on-premises system. The right partner can dispel those concerns with robust fail-safes and exemplary customer service.
VOIP Networks, for example, uses multi-instance architecture and geo-redundant data centers. Customers share their servers with no other users, unlike multi-tenant architecture, and each user’s dedicated hardware has numerous redundant sites in geographically diverse areas.
In addition, all VOIP Networks clients receive U.S.-based, white-glove support 24/7, starting even before the official engagement. When meeting with a prospective customer, VOIP Networks conducts focus groups and works with department heads to identify their specific needs. The company also offers a complimentary proof-of-concept installation, which allows organizations to try the equipment and software without obligation. Finally, to ensure that clients realize the maximum value from their communications investment, VOIP Networks provides full-system administrative and end-user training at no cost.
With more than 35 years of communications expertise, VOIP Networks designs, installs, and manages multi-instance systems to provide the highest quality and reliability. For more information, or to discuss your communication needs, please contact us.