Willing to be the "skeely skipper" to nurse MicrosoftLync systems into Scottish private and public sectors, Exactive believes 'very significant' efficiency savings can be achieved by the technology that launched in 2010 and enables staff to work from home or at local bases, freeing up office space and buildings within council property portfolios.
"The technology is there to massively improve efficiency in the areas of telephones and IT. Councils can both save money and deliver improved services at a more local level," comments Exactive MD Scott Millar.
"By combining technologies that are now well-known and familiar to users, such as instant messaging, Voice-over-IP (VoIP) and remote working, councils will be able to deliver services to users at a more local level, and save money in the process.
" Exactive has installed Microsoft Lync systems, which integrate numerous communications applications with working systems such as Microsoft Office, within several clients operations in both private and public sectors, and reports significant cost reductions as a result.
Councils include Argyll & Bute, Scottish Borders and South Ayrshire. Full savings are still being assessed over a period of time following installation, but Exactive estimates individual councils could save around £2.3m in operating costs, depending on size and type of operation. On that basis savings for Scotland's 32 integrated local authorities could run at well over £60m, at a time of austerity budgets and staff cuts.
"There are immediate savings in terms of the cost of operating the new system," says Millar. "Then there are ongoing and new savings to be found as new work practices develop, such as home working, reductions in travel and so on. Ultimately many councils will be able to make much more efficient use of buildings, and even dispose of some facilities, as a result of the original investment.
" Working with Exactive, South Ayrshire Council is on track to have around 4,000 users on the system by the end of August one of the largest deployments of the system in the UK.
"Our starting point was to make more efficient use of our telephone system and to integrate it more with IT to create a comprehensive telecommunications network," comments council head of Policy, Performance and Communication, Claire Monaghan.
"However it is clear that a smart investment in IT can bring far greater benefits in terms of the way we work, the space we use, and the way we communicate.
"Feedback from our employees has been overwhelmingly positive and it really is transforming the way we work not just in terms of the financial benefits but also delivering carbon savings and giving our employees the flexibility to be more productive.
"The system was introduced with a minimum of disruption and we are seeing real benefits from the investment."