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Ulster University: Driving Value from the Client / Consultant Relationship

The Client

 

Ulster University is relatively unusual for a UK university, with four well-sized campuses distributed around Northern Ireland. Because of this, effective communication is essential in order for the University to operate as a single cohesive entity across all four campuses. The University was faced with a need to renew its telephony platform due to a major estates project that required the demolition of the building that housed the main PABX at its largest site. The University recognised this as an opportunity for the complete transformation of its communications.

 

The Project

 

The University has a highly skilled IT and telecoms team, but identified the need to complement this team with external expertise in order to gain the following benefits:

 

  • Expertise from skilled business and technology consultants who had regularly undertaken similar projects.
  • Experience from other applicable organisations and sectors.
  • Resource to undertake specific project activity (e.g. business case development).
  • Resource to backfill BAU activity to release internal resources to work on the project (e.g. routine services re-procurements).

 

How 4C Helped

 

Following extensive stakeholder consultation and the approval of a comprehensive business case by the Department, the University chose to adopt a strategy based around migrating telephony and associated communications to a Lync (and subsequently Skype for Business) based solution. 4C Strategies assisted the University in the procurement of the applicable solutions (voice gateways) and a deployment partner to undertake the project. 4C Strategies was also able to advise the University’s team throughout implementation and provided specific additional resources where necessary, including device deployment.

 

Outcome / Benefits

 

The University successfully migrated all users to Skype for Business and is one of the first UK universities to make the decision to dispense with a traditional PABX.

 

The Benefit of the Partnership Approach

 

The consultancy was largely undertaken by 4C Strategies’ Principal Consultant Dave Mailer, complemented by additional 4C resources where appropriate.

 

“We always allocate resources that are best able to meet the customer’s requirements. In this case Dave was the best fit as he has extensive experience of delivering unified communications in the University sector whilst also being able to lead a larger team where applicable.”

 

– Gill Rowbotham, Head of Consultancy Operations at 4C Strategies

 

“Dave very quickly gained a solid understanding of our requirements, some of which are unique due to history and geography in Northern Ireland. He brought an unsurpassed level of market and technical knowledge relating to unified communications and demonstrated a unique ability to balance any business or technical challenges that arose as the project progressed. Dave worked as a genuine member of our team forming strong working relationships with, and most importantly gaining the trust of, all of our stakeholders, ranging from telecommunications staff, through senior academics, to our board directors.”

 

– Donna O’Kane, Ulster University

 

Where applicable, 4C Strategies assumed full responsibility for key deliverables, including strategy report, business case and procurement documentation. They also facilitated a team approach in some other areas, including tender evaluation and implementation activity, working closely with university staff.

 

4C Strategies quickly became a trusted advisor at all levels within the University and, following a further procurement process, was able to provide support with related projects that arose during the partnership, including a review of the University’s overall IT infrastructure and the development of the business case for a fully immersive video-conferencing solution across three of its campuses.

 

4C Strategies demonstrated a unique ability to empathise with university stakeholders, represented the University’s best interests in negotiations with third party suppliers, and always respected the client’s decision, whilst making it easy for decisions to be reached by setting out all information, options and recommendations in a clear and concise manner. 4C managed consultancy expenditure within the original estimates at all times, agreed all expenditure in advance and completed all activity within the agreed timeframes.

 

4C Strategies operated a flexible approach throughout the project, even when it was essential to deal with unforeseen events, including Microsoft’s replacement of Lync with Skype for Business.

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Ulster University: Driving Value from the Client / Consultant Relationship

Ulster University has four well-sized campuses distributed around Northern Ireland. Because of this, effective communication is essential in order for the University to operate as a single cohesive entity. The University was faced with a need to renew its telephony platform due to a major estates project that required the demolition of the building that housed the main PABX at its largest site. The University recognised this as an opportunity for the complete transformation of its communications.

WHAT DO OUR CLIENTS SAY?
Ulster University
Donna O'Kane

“Dave very quickly gained a solid understanding of our requirements, some of which are unique due to history and geography in Northern Ireland. He brought an unsurpassed level of market and technical knowledge relating to unified communications and demonstrated a unique ability to balance any business or technical challenges that arose as the project progressed. Dave worked as a genuine member of our team forming strong working relationships with, and most importantly gaining the trust of, all of our stakeholders, ranging from telecommunications staff, through senior academics, to our board directors.”

Cambridgeshire County Council
Sue Grace, Director Corporate and Customer Services

"4C became a valuable member of our project team by producing high quality documentation, helping us to understand the UK marketplace and playing a full and proactive role in the evaluation. The 4C procurement ‘tool-set’ fully captured our requirements and allowed the suppliers to clearly articulate their proposals at all stages of the Competitive Dialogue. If you have a need for an independent ICT consultancy we would have no hesitation in recommending 4C Strategies."

University of Oxford
Stuart Lee, Deputy Chief Information Officer
Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust
Steve Mattern, Associate Director of IM&T

“The project to replace the telephone systems in our three hospitals was always going to be a major challenge for the Trust. We retained 4C to help us to develop our strategy, go out to procurement and transition to the new solution in one coordinated step at all three sites.

West London Mental Health Trust
Trevor Nelms, Director of Business Technology

"4C Strategies has assisted in a range of complex ICT projects, from inception through to deployment, and demonstrate a rare ability to bring together technical expertise with business acumen and tight project management skills"

University of Edinburgh
Tony Weir, Director of IT Infrastructure

"We chose 4C as a strategic partner to help the University manage a large-scale project to modernise the University’s telephony service.  This project involved full upgrade to the University’s VoIP infrastructure and migrating over 5,000 analogue extensions to the new system.  4C where chosen for their expert skills in telephony, the quality of their strategic advice and their ability to manage a business-critical project, all of which have proved invaluable in assisting the University to deliver a successful project."

University of Westminster
Thierry Delaitre, Head of FST Technical Services Department

"4C has played a key role in defining and delivering this important Mobile Learning project for the Faculty of Science and Technology. Their technical skills, relationship with the wider University, sector knowledge and project & change management skills have significantly contributed to the success of this project and its transition to Business As Usual"

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