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Argyll and Bute Council adopts Microsoft Lync

March 2012 by Emmanuelle Lamandé

Argyll and Bute Council, covering the second largest land area in Scotland, has chosen Microsoft’s communication and collaboration technology, Lync 2010, to create and manage a flexible working programme. The council has introduced Microsoft Lync to 2,000 of its staff to help employees work flexibly across 60 separate sites, with IT services extended to another 350 locations and provide a more cost effective solution that will sync-up better with the council’s infrastructure and services.

This major transformation project has been driven by a change in culture and behaviour towards work and required a major upgrade to the technology in use. This new way of working was enabled by ensuring staff had access to IT systems and telephony from a variety of locations, including at home, providing them with the greatest amount of flexibility.

The council is no stranger to remote flexible working having previously adopted video conferencing to help cut the amount of time staff spent travelling to meetings. In the current economic environment the council required significant additional savings to be made. Gerry Wilson, IT Infrastructure Services Manager, Argyll and Bute Council, said, “We knew we’d be unable to achieve our workforce deployment targets using the existing communications platform so we had to find another solution.”

Before deciding to adopt Microsoft Lync, the council also looked at both IBM and Cisco technologies. However, after working with Microsoft Unified Communications Gold Partner and systems integrator, Exactive, Argyll and Bute decided the most cost-effective solution would be to replace its Cisco IP telephony system with Microsoft Lync 2010. The transformation project is a three year programme, which is due for completion in 2013. “The council had struggled for almost a year to get our old system to integrate more effectively with the rest of our software, including the desktops, collaboration technology, file and print, and security. In the end, it made more sense, both for financial and productivity reasons, to progress our workforce deployment programme with Lync 2010.” said Gerry Wilson.

Lync 2010 has been installed at the council’s two data centres and this has led to significant technical gains – for example, Lync 2010 is capable of serving network sites that were not previously accessible, resulting in significant rental savings. As part of the new architecture, the council is also upgrading to Windows 7, Microsoft Exchange Server 2010, Microsoft SQL Server 2008 data management software, Microsoft Office 2010, and Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010.

The principal benefits for the council are an improvement in staff communications, productivity and collaboration. Lync 2010’s presence function makes it easier to find the right person to engage with to take a voice call, instant message, share workloads or video call. Gerry Wilson continued, “With Lync 2010 fully rolled out and our workforce adopting new flexible work styles, we’re expecting each user to gain at least 20 minutes more productive time every working day. Unified communications has helped the council to meet budgetary targets – we reduced the number of offices, which has provided savings on maintenance and leasing costs; and the ability to meet virtually led to travel and subsistence costs falling by five per cent in the first year.”

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