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Request for Proposals # 210706-200 Unified Communications as a Service

Pender County is Requesting Proposals regarding replacement of our current on-premise Cisco Voice over IP (VoIP) system (the system) with a Cloud-Hosted Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) solution. The County has identified four (4) main reasons to move from an on-premise system to a Cloud-Hosted and Cloud-Managed system: Continuity of Operations, Mobility, Cost, and Functionality. We are seeking a business partner that can help Pender meet these needs by providing a reliable and cost effective UCaaS solution.

First, the current system provides for little redundancy, no continuity of operations, nor disaster recovery. Should the County be left without operating data centers after the wake of a natural or other disaster, we would have no means of communicating with our customers or business partners. By moving to a Cloud-Hosted/Cloud-Managed Solution, County staff can continue to make and receive calls from anywhere with an internet connection.

Second, the County wishes to provide for a mobile workforce. Our current system is on-premise and requires users to connect via VPN to use a softphone option. In addition, our system does not provide for mobile phone applications, nor can handsets be used outside of the County network. During the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, the County was challenged with continuing operations while allowing staff to Telework. Due to the lack of mobility, staff were required to forward desk phones to their mobile phones, which continuously posed challenges for both staff and ITS. The County wishes to provide users the ability to make and receive calls using smart phone applications, softphones, and handsets using any available internet connection without requiring a VPN or relying on County infrastructure.

Third, the County wishes to move from a Capital Expense model to an Operating Expense model for its Unified Communications; receiving a monthly bill, per user and/or device, rather than costly expenses to maintain an on-premise system. The County currently incurs monthly & annual costs for telco expenses (PRI and Long Distance), Hardware Support & Maintenance (Smartnet), and Software Support & Maintenance (Smartnet). In addition, upgrades to the system are costly, requires third party business partners, requires a great deal of ITS staff time, and causes downtime for end-users. Moving to the cloud would decrease required resources for our on-premise infrastructure and increase ITS staff efficiency.

Finally, the current VoIP system lacks features that the County has identified as a business need. The County’s Call Manager licenses does not include a Call Center ability. Due to the countless calls about the COVID-19 vaccination, the County sought a Call Center as a Service option. This service proved itself as a critical business need for many Departments in the County. In addition, other features such as Paging, Call Recording, and Office 365 Integration would be invaluable to County Operations.

Click here for the full RFP # 210706-200 and the UCaaS Requirements Workbook.  Proposals are due August 13th, 2021 by 5pm EST.  Pender County reserves the right to reject any or all proposals.

Update 7/23/2021:  Click here for all Questions and Answers compiled in Addendum 1.

Update 8/03/2021:  Click here for all Questions and Answers compiled in Addendum 2.

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