Gamma Teams Direct Routing supports customer focus drive at RSM UK

RSM, a leading provider of audit, tax and business consulting services to UK middle-market businesses, is leveraging Gamma Teams Direct Routing to enable the roll-out of profound company-wide cultural and working-practice changes. In doing so, RSM aims to build on an already strong reputation for the quality of its client relationships and services by becoming still more open, accessible and customer focused.

The UK company employs some 3,663 staff at more than 30 offices across the UK, in 2021 reporting consolidated revenues of £376.4m, and profit of £10m before tax, after partner remuneration.

RSM UK IT Partner David Hilland heads the internal team tasked with selecting and deploying technology to support the change programme across the company’s estate. Even before the Covid pandemic struck, a key question being considered was what tools would be required to support a shift towards more flexible ways of working.

David and his colleagues had already identified Microsoft Teams as a likely key contender. While a trial deployment of Teams at two locations involving some 200 staff members and partners was judged successful, it nonetheless highlighted the key challenge of how the collaborative working environment could be integrated with RSM’s legacy 7,000 on-premises direct dial in (DDI) landlines, still a primary conduit by which clients chose to interact with the company.

Microsoft Teams

“We knew the future lay in integrating telephony with Teams and we initially contracted with Microsoft for a Calling Plans package, rolling it out to the two trial locations,” recalls David. “We’d begun discussions with a couple of vendors about converting more fixed end points to Teams telephony, but then the pandemic hit and with it the need to respond urgently to wide-scale home working.

“For the trial, our staff had been using Teams to call each other, but their desk phones were diverted to their mobiles. It was costly and cumbersome, and it became obvious that to scale up successfully we would need a different way of handling calls, as well as a very agile partner to help us use the opportunity. Call it a Covid dividend if you wish, but the cloud in this instance did have a silver lining. The potential cost savings looked very substantial, but migrating our entire UK staff to Teams calling was not a small task.”

Initially Gamma did not figure particularly strongly on RSM’s radar although David was aware of the company because he had sat through presentations by Gamma at the Accounting IT Directors’ Forum. He notes: “I am notoriously difficult for salespeople to get through to, but Gamma was nothing if not persistent. I was visiting a new office in Suffolk and had arrived early so was sitting outside in the car when the phone rang. I thought, I’ve got time, why not?”

The initial discussion centred on the three options facing RSM; expanding the Teams Calling Plans rollout, acquisition by RSM of direct routing technology and the recruitment of specialists to operate it. The other option was outsourcing the direct routing task to a third party such as Gamma. “What they told me was technically credible and commercially compelling. We engaged seriously with Gamma from that point.”


Project planning

David appointed an RSM project team to work with Gamma’s project planning and delivery specialists, creating a combination of multi-discipline expertise drawn from the two companies that he says proved to be truly collaborative and highly effective. Initially, the decision was made to opt for a pilot deployment to prove the concept and create the opportunity for ironing out any unforeseen wrinkles. This was to be followed by what David describes as ‘a relatively conservative’ site-by-site roll-out plan.

The intended pace was a pragmatic approach to what for the Gamma team – veterans of many such migrations – was business as usual, but for RSM a first-time event and not a moment to risk compounding the existential threat from Covid by rushing unfamiliar technology into the mix.

David recalls: “In the event, the first two sites were so successful that we had the confidence to compress the rest of the roll-out into just 10 weeks – all 7,000 DDI numbers 31 sites and 3,663 staff. The configuration required to set up the direct routing between Gamma and Teams is very straightforward and allows for a very controlled granular rollout.

“My people collated the office address, DDI ranges, and the name and addresses of the relevant suppliers. The Gamma porting team submitted and took care of the number ports from the incumbent supplier to Gamma. Overall, we experienced very little down time, and 99% of offices didn’t see any at all. Thanks to the work of the joint project teams, we succeeded on time and with no additional costs.

“I will add that the RSM UK training we provided via Teams live events and live Q&As helped here as it removed the fear factor for our users.”

With the success of the UK-wide Covid vaccination programme, RSM’s UK staff have been able to join in the great national return to the office. But, thanks to the deployment of Gamma Teams Direct Routing, ‘the office’ for RSM staff and partners now means something rather different. Not only has Teams telephony made remote and homeworking a wholly seamless experience – staff can speak with clients and colleagues just as efficiently and as reliably as they did when they were wholly office-based. When they and those clients actually visit a RSM office they will likely find that it too has changed.

The office, re-imagined

Walking in through the front door expecting to see a traditional waiting room seating area, they enter instead to an open-plan meeting space with relaxed, free-form seating and tables where they can meet and greet face-to-face, working collaboratively and creatively while the scent of barista-style coffee wafts in the air.

“It’s the office, but re-imagined,” says David. “Not at every RSM site yet – but as we take on new sites and refurbish existing ones it will become the norm. Moving to hybrid working of this type was something we had always planned to do, but the pandemic and the national lockdowns allowed us to accelerate. People are now so used to working remotely, using tools such as Teams, that they are ready for the change of culture, willing to readily embrace new ways of behaving.”

Moving to Gamma Teams Direct Routing is saving RSM in excess of £400,000 a year in telephony costs. While he notes that as a welcome gain, David is more positive still about the benefits of Teams telephony from a strategic business perspective.

“RSM is a relatively young, new brand. It’s our stated aim to be the advisor of choice for middle market business leaders. We know we will achieve this by focusing on the quality of the service that we provide to clients, and the quality of the relationships we have with them. We see Teams telephony and the cultural change that it is bringing as one of the key enablers that will allow us to achieve our goal.”

And talking of relationships, what of RSM’s partnership with Gamma? It speaks volumes that on the strength of its work with RSM UK, and a recommendation from David and his team, Gamma is now in the process of implementing Teams telephony for RSM International. Meanwhile, migration of the original two RSM UK Teams test sites to Gamma Teams Direct Routing telephony is also underway.

Says David: “It’s clear to us that Gamma and RSM share a common approach to quality both in terms of delivery and commercial relationships. Would we do it all again? Yes, of course we would. My team and I are more than happy that we have Gamma as a partner.”