The acquisition of a Quebec-based micro-brewery has led Sleeman Breweries Ltd. to overhaul the communications architecture at what will now be its head office.

Sleeman on Monday said it is using Avaya IP Office, a voice and data convergence

product aimed at the small and medium-sized business market. The implementation follows the acquisition by Sleeman of Unibroue, which was completed in July of last year. Based in Laval, Unibroue since the acquisition has moved to a new location in Lachine, which is where an Avaya IP telephony system has been rolled out.

Sleeman systems adminstrator Robert Petrone said Sleeman decided that upgrading its former Norstar private branch exchange (PBX) system wouldn’t have been cost-effective, and the company wanted to provide better quality control at its call centre.

IP Office’s Call Center Manager, software, for example, will allow users to see if agents are all logged in and available for a call. Summer is usually the company’s busy season, and after it’s over Sleeman hopes to use the system’s reporting features to better forecast its hiring needs for 2006. Sleeman has so far limited its use of IP Office to its voice-centric functions, while data resides on its own servers.

“It’s not fully used at the moment,” he said. “After a move there are so many things going on. We don’t want to bring too many features on at the same time. Especially for a call centre, because it’s such an important piece of the package.”

The ability to monitor and identify peak call periods is critical to the brewery, said Sleeman senior director of strategic planning Sebastien Forest. Until IP Office, the company relied on an annual report on its call centre activity from its former phone provider, Bell Canada. “It takes, like, forever to dig in that report,” he said.

Sleeman only has one IT employee managing the Avaya network, which has helped reduce administration costs, according to Petrone. “Once the system is set up and running there’s not much to it,” he said. “Just day to day user interface type system stuff, users that should have been changed.” 

Avaya Canada SMBS group national sales director Jerry Gaëtant said IP Office, which was launched in 2002, is usually chosen by small and medium-sized businesses that want offer the same kind of customer service as larger organizations.

“They want to be able to use their facilities for remote users, for instance,” he said, “not only for sales force but some of the corporation want to leverage some of their part-time employees within their network and within their call centre.”

Sleeman has about 70 users on IP Office now, but probably won’t be rolling it out to the handful of warehouses it has around the province, Forest said, which only have small offices inside them. One of the product’s advantages is its scaleability, however, Gaëtant added, and since it supports multi-site networks it could grow with Sleeman/Unibroue as needed.


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