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Breakthrough Breast Cancer

About the project

Breakthrough Breast Cancer is the leading breast cancer charity in the UK. It raises close to £20 million a year to support essential research, finding new treatments, discovering the causes, promoting early detection and ensuring the best possible care for women diagnosed with the disease. It is famed for its direct, mass participation fund raising events.

"A very positive experience as a customer"

Paul Goodwin, Head of ICT - Breakthrough Breast Cancer

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Why Forfusion?

Paul Goodwin, Head of IT at Breakthrough Breast Cancer had been driving the upgrade of IT infrastructure step by step over an 18 month period since joining the charity. Underpinning each change was the drive to improve performance with minimal disruption. This sat within a wider requirement to reduce the proportion of income spent on running the organisation versus funding research.


Breakthrough Break Cancer is based in two centres 400 miles apart - London and Edinburgh. With a people-centred culture, the organisation maintained a relatively high level of staff travel between the two offices, with associated costs.

The organisation has about 140 users on its systems, split between permanent staff (40%) and volunteers (60%). Those volunteers needed to be up and running as quickly as possible and the key to that was being connected to other people within the organisation.

Finally, Breakthrough Breast Cancer benefited from a benefactor meeting the costs of its phone bill, including the free provision of an old Siemens PBX system. Whilst not a direct cost, this arrangement increasingly lacked the flexibility that the organisation required to grow.

Bells and Whistles

Forfusion put together an ‘all bells and whistles’ proposal built around Skype for Business with the objective of replacing the PBX.

Whilst Forfusion understoodthis to be beyond the original brief of rolling out Instant Messaging (IM) and Desktop Collaboration tools, this approach was taken to demonstrate the wider potential of the system.

Further to more detailed discussions regarding budget and the timeframe that Breakthrough Breast Cancer needed to operate within, a revised proposal was agreed. The final solution included IM and Desktop Collaboration, as well as the ability to enable HD multi-party Video Conferencing.

The project was delivered in two back-to-back phases - design, followed by implementation. Microsoft Skype for Business was built into a virtualized environment (VMware) on existing servers sited in the London office. For additional security it was suggested that a firewall be configured; whilst out of scope, Forfusion absorbed this work into their delivery, thus ensuring a smooth and fast implementation.

Within a fortnight, 140 users were enabled across the two offices at a total cost of £11k - £8k for services plus around £3k for licenses. When set against existing internal travel costs, the move pays back within a single financial year – an important factor given the charity’s funding aims.

More Effective

However, more importantly, it has enabled staff to work together far more effectively than before in three key ways.

1. Finding people. Microsoft Skype for Business works with Active Directory, which from a user perspective means that anyone can look up anyone else on the system – a big boost for a company with 60% of its workforce changing intermittently.

2. Knowing availability. Busy/Free indicators of Presence linked to Calendars enable workers to see when is the best time to schedule meetings or just pick up the phone.

3. Direct communication. Instant messaging enables a rapid contact. Upgrading that to a person to person video conference can be done in a single click.

"Very professional in approach. Knowledge of subject and the ability to come up with solutions to problems very quickly was excellent.” 

Paul Goodwin, Head of ICT - Breakthrough Breast Cancer

User Uptake

Key to the success of any new roll-out is user-uptake and with a predominantly young workforce, schooled on MSN and Skype, this has been rapid. Facilitated by post-implementation user support direct from Forfusion, delivered across the same Lync enabled networks, any issues were resolved early, helping to ensure the success of this company wide move.

Future Proof

With an eye on the future, the Microsoft Skype for Business implementation has enabled Paul Goodwin to take the first steps towards resolving two other issues on the horizon.

1. The aging PBX phone system, that would undoubtedly make any major change quite difficult.

2. The increasing appetite of staff, especially volunteers, to use their own devices – smartphones, tablets or PCs – with the inherent security risks that accompany it.

To come back to the beginning, Breakthrough Breast Cancer, now has a people-centred communication and collaboration tool that better enables its many teams to deliver funding for breast cancer research. And it is one it can continue to build on.

"We provide robust, secure communications solutions. We listen, we develop, we deliver."

Team Forfusion comprises a compact and diverse team of professionals, who have joined forces tocreate an exciting, forward thinking and dynamic organisation. Collectively we exercise a ‘can-do’attitude and we promote a ‘keep it simple’ approach in all that we do.

Attention to detail is always top of our agenda, which is reflected in our internal processes, right through to our customer facing documentation sets. We truly believe our meticulous nature and pragmatic approach provides us with the necessary tools to assist even the most complex of organisations.

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