Cloud Telephony Dreams Comes True for Leading Children’s Charity

Make-A-Wish Nederland switch to the cloud banks more time and money to invest in giving precious experiences to life-threatened kids

Business Need

A major office relocation presented a golden chance to replace an old legacy PBX and revolutionise the way Make-A-Wish Nederland (MAW) uses business communications. As a charity, it was vital to choose a solution that could minimise capital and running costs while getting rid of cumbersome admin overheads.

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Business Results

  • Removes the need to maintain infrastructure while delivering lower running costs
  • Delivers higher reliability and easier scalability than the previous solution
  • Empowers users to self-serve and manage their own settings – reducing the strain on MAW’s limited IT resources
  • Enables new, more flexible and mobile working practices so that users can work and communicate from anywhere 

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Kids Charity’s Big Cloud Communications Adventure

Every child has a wish. Maybe one day they will achieve it, or maybe it will fade away as adulthood arrives.  

But when children’s lives are threatened by illness, these wishes become incredibly important. Their future becomes uncertain. Time may be running short.

Luckily there are those who work tirelessly to give these wishes a chance to come true.

Make-A-Wish (MAW) is a global organisation dedicated to realising the special hopes and dreams of children with life-threatening illnesses.

The Dutch chapter, Make-A-Wish Nederland, was established in 1989 and each year its staff and volunteers organise wishes to be fulfilled for 650 children using money raised from charitable donations.

“The wishes are very diverse and can happen anywhere in the world,” says Richard van der Vaart, Teamleider Financien.

“About 70 percent are fulfilled in the Netherlands, and the rest go abroad. It all depends on what the wish is. Recently we had a child travel to the States to see an NBA basketball game, and another who wanted to be a garbage collector for a day here in the Netherlands.”

The office moves, yet the legacy PBX stays behind

Having been based in the same office at Woerden near Utrecht for nearly 20 years, MAW recently moved to a new headquarters in nearby Hilversum.

MAW’s ICT partner, Zetacom, was invited to advise on which aspects of technology would need to move to the new premises and which should be replaced.

“Our previous switchboard system was a Siemens on-premise PBX, but it was outdated,” recalls Facilities Manager, Alie Snel. The system was also not flexible enough to integrate with the IP workstations planned for the new site.

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“We needed something else,” said Alie. “Zetacom then advised us to switch to a cloud solution with NFON and explained all the advantages we could expect.”

These included not only the desired communications and conferencing functionality and more affordable running costs, but also higher reliability and easier scalability.

Smooth implementation and fast results

The migration to the NFON Cloud Telephone System was a straightforward process, with users experiencing little - if any - temporary disruption during the switchover.

According to Alie, number porting and other planning arrangements went smoothly and there were no more than a few minutes of downtime on the day.  

Perhaps the single biggest benefit of the cloud telephone system is the cost saving. Gone is the requirement to maintain on-premise infrastructure or purchase upgrades, and MAW also enjoys low calling tariffs and free calls between users.

Crucially, MAW personnel now spend far less time on system management tasks.

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Another contributor to the cost equation is increased process efficiency, made possible by NFON’s extensive communications functionality. MAW Nederland has been enabled to significantly enhance many of its operations and empowered to embrace modern, more flexible ways of working.

All of this frees up valuable money and resources to be reinvested in the mission of MAW: making wishes come true.

“We save a lot of costs now that we have switched to NFON, and as a charity we have to pay a lot of attention to every penny, so this is good for us,” says Alie.

“Another advantage is it is very easy to scale. NFON has a user portal, which is very easy to set up and use. You can easily scale it up and, if you wanted to, you could change the number of users every day.”

Putting the users in control

Focusing maximum attention on organising wishes means MAW runs a streamlined IT department with just one full-time professional.

“The advantage of NFON is that I have time to spare,” explains Brian van Dorp, Medewerker ICT. In practice, this allows Brian to dedicate maximum attention to strategic IT projects – far more than with the previous legacy system.

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“My experience with legacy products in the past proved very bad. Since I've been working with NFON, I've enjoyed it. It's also very easy to do everything from home; for example, I don't have to come to the office to deploy a deskphone.”

According to Brian, using the system is so easy that much of the responsibility has been given over to users.

“The great advantage of NFON is that users can manage their phones themselves. We have flexible working spaces here, so users can easily disconnect a device and log in somewhere else to continue working. This saves a lot of time and cost.”

“And when they are out of office, they can redirect their numbers and have both their mobile phone and their landline ring simultaneously to alert an incoming call. They can therefore work wherever they please!”

A first step toward broader cloud migration

The move to NFON has also encouraged the organisation to extend the wider benefits of cloud IT to its 400 Dutch volunteers, explains Alie: "The switch to cloud telephony has worked so well for MAW that we have also migrated our project portal to the cloud. Hundreds of volunteers and fundraisers use this portal for materials to follow up on actions, information about suppliers they can turn to, and lots more.”

From the finance department to facilities management and IT, all 45 users employed at MAW Nederland have their own reasons to be happy with their NFON Cloud Telephone System.

Everyone, it seems, is having their wishes come true!