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Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust

About the project

Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust provides care services across four counties in southern England, Hampshire, Dorset, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire. It employs around 9,000 staff working from over 200 sites, including community hospitals, health centres, inpatient units and social care services. The Trust recently adopted a strategy to provide unified communications (UC) to staff. The intention being to improve services to patients and staff; enhance operational effectiveness; rationalise phone service provision and support; and save costs.


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The Requirement

The Trust required an independent expert to examine the marketplace, recommend vendor(s) and produce a conceptual design for UC services, which in turn would support the wider strategy.


  • host UC on the Trust’s own infrastructure
  • provide options for resilient 24*7 UC services
  • where possible, aim to maximise the use of existing equipment, software licences, technical skills and commercial relationships taking the most cost-effective approach
  • give options for a range of end points including conventional desktop phones and soft phones
  • give options for integration with mobile phone services
  • reduce the Trust’s ongoing telephone costs

Brief and Problem Statement

Forfusion drew on its considerable knowledge, capability and vendor agnostic approach to put in place a team, headed by Steven Forrest. As the deadlines were tight, Steven instigated two parallel work streams to cover the requirements gathering and conceptual design. Each work stream was undertaken by Steven, supported by other Forfusion team members that possessed technical and commercial skills specific to each work stream; tasks undertaken dovetailed with one another throughout the process – this allowed Forfusion to deliver a final recommendation on the back of thefollowing phases:

Business workshops - this comprised a series of workshops and interviews conducted across a range of disciplines to represent users and system administrators of the Trust. It included mediation of parties with different interests and steering of mind-sets to share common goalsand objectives.

Analysis - following business workshops and interviews, information collated was analysed, sorted and documented into definitive unified communications and collaboration categories (i.e. messaging, mobile duress and telephony), in order that requirements could be easily understood.

Functional requirements - the outcome of these workshops led to the development of business context and system use case scenarios with priority grading matrices. This deliverable was also used to inform the conceptual design including performance and service level requirements.

Conceptual design - design workshops were scheduled and details/ actions were recorded and subsequently used to inform the conceptual design. The design was reviewed for areas of convergence, integration opportunities, reuse of technologies, and to ensure solution compliance.

"Forfusion made this into a simple process in what is a complex delivery environment."

Phil Ballad, Head of ICT operations - Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust

Forfusion’s input and approach led to the Trust changing direction in respect of solution and vendor.

In order to align with the Trust’s business outcomes and overall strategy, it was determined that a Cisco unified communications solution would be deployed, and that it would be fully integrated with Microsoft Skype for Business – this allowed the Trust to capitalise on current investment as well as safeguard longer term operational and financial commitments.

"We engaged with Forfusion to help us identify suitable solutions to deliver against our UC Strategy and to make a recommendation on what we should choose as our preferred platform.

The work involved helping us to develop our requirements so that we could proceed to a procurement exercise, evaluating options, identifying solutions and then making recommendations based on our sites, existing legacy stand-alone solutions and the need to deliver in a phased approach.

Forfusion delivered against a tight timeframe in a very professional manor and provided all necessary documentation. The outcome was a recommendation we could accept without hesitation. All together Forfusion made this into a simple process in what is a complex delivery environment." 

Phil Ballad, Head of ICT operations - Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust

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