SAS Global Communications helps international private equity firm improve comms and productivity

Posted on Thursday February 14, 2008

London - SAS Global Communications, an international provider of managed and professional network services, has completed the successful implementation of an international wide area network (WAN) and unified communications (UC) solution for BC Partners, a leading private equity firm. The installation, which supports 85 staff across seven offices in six countries worldwide, has dramatically boosted staff productivity whilst, at the same time, reducing international voice and video conferencing costs.

Previously, BC Partners relied on a BT international public VPN for its pan-European and transatlantic data communications, and standard ISDN lines for telephone and video conferencing calls. However, this system was complicated to manage and did not support the company’s productivity goals. It was also costly, with BC Partners spending around £3,000 every month on inter-site calls. The sheer volume and frequency of international voice and video conference calls, which are a crucial part of the firm’s day-to-day business, were simply proving too difficult and expensive to facilitate over ISDN, yet without quality of service (QoS), it was impossible to route these over the VPN. In addition, each office used its own communications equipment, and whilst some was capable of supporting video, most could only handle audio.

To enhance communications and to establish global standards that will ensure all customers receive a consistent level of service, regardless of the office they call, BC Partners turned to SAS, which had been acting as the firm’s strategic IT consultant for more than eight years. SAS worked with the BC Partners team to understand the business drivers for the project and complete a thorough review of the existing infrastructure to identify if and where it required upgrading.

Following the review, SAS designed and provisioned a BT international MPLS WAN with QoS to support voice, video and data traffic across all of BC Partners’ offices. This, combined with Avaya Communications Manager for IP telephony and an upgraded Polycom video conferencing system, capable of bridging all seven locations simultaneously, means that BC Partners can now make international voice and video conferencing calls over IP, reducing the need for staff travel between offices and to client sites. To reduce costs further, SAS configured the network for WAN call routing with in-country breakout, enabling international calls to be charged at local rates.

“The move to the new converged communications network has been seamless, and our employees have been able to get on with their jobs without interruption,” said Mike Twinning, financial director at BC Partners. “SAS was able to step in and effectively act as our CIO, and continues to do so. For a business like ours, with no dedicated IT staff, being able to put our trust in a company like SAS is a weight off our minds.”

The new system provides benefits for BC Partners in terms of productivity and environmental issues. Whilst the firm had a video conferencing system in place before, it was unreliable and prone to interference, resulting in staff not using it. The new QoS-enabled network has overcome this problem, stabilising the connectivity and reducing the need for staff to spend time on flights and sitting in airports in order to have face-to-face contact. This directly increases productivity, as employees no longer have to commit an entire day or more in order to attend a short meeting. Furthermore, with the company focused on reducing its carbon footprint, the ability to reduce the number of unnecessary air miles clocked up by staff was an attractive proposition.

“For businesses like BC Partners with sophisticated communications needs, a unified communications solution can make a lot of sense,” said Charles Davis, CEO of SAS Global Communications. “However, staff acceptance is the key to success with every UC project, and this will only happen if the system is 100 per cent correct and customised to meet an individual organisation’s specific business requirements. To guarantee this, it is crucial that firms take time at the outset to assess their needs, and if, like BC Partners, that don’t have technical expertise in-house, it is advisable to consult an expert third party to implement and manage the solution.”

To ensure the network continues to run as smoothly as possible, SAS also provides ongoing managed services, which deliver a total support and administration service for BC Partners’ new solution. In particular, SAS remotely monitors all of the company’s data and telecoms infrastructure and services, providing an holistic view of the entire solution, including the carrier infrastructure and BC Partners’ applications networks. This ensures that the root cause of any issue can be identified and resolved as quickly as possible, without impacting BC Partners’ business.

For businesses that need advice about their communications infrastructures, SAS has launched a series of online webcasts designed to address the practical requirements of installing and managing an IP network. These events are available free of charge at www.sas.co.uk/webevents.