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PhonepayPlus (formerly known as ICSTIS) is responsible for regulating premium rate services in the UK. These are the premium rate goods and services – such as calls to competition lines, directory enquiries, booking lines, text messaging and ‘red button’ services – consumers can buy by charging the cost to their phone bill and/or pre-pay account. The organisation investigates complaints and, if its rules have been broken, can fi ne the company responsible, bar access to the company’s services and even ban the individual behind the company from running other similar services.
Recognising that the failure of its IT or telephony systems could leave members of the public vulnerable, and cause inconvenience for providers and other stakeholders, PhonepayPlus embarked on the search for a true business continuity partner.
IS Manager Mark Bend explains, “I used to worry that, if our systems were to fail or there were problems with our offi ce, we would be letting down both members of the public who need our advice and providers and other stakeholders who depend on us. But having Sungard behind us gives me complete peace of mind.”
Although Ofcom was already a Sungard AS customer, PhonepayPlus explored several options before reaching its decision. IS Manager, Mark Bend, explains, “Sungard is the best in the market from what I can see. Business continuity is its core business, whereas for many of its competitors it’s just an add-on.”
PhonepayPlus contracted 30 seats at one of Sungard AS’s many Workplace Recovery Centres across London. In the event of a business interruption, these fully-equipped recovery suites provide an alternative workspace for key employees that allow business to continue as usual. Sungard AS’s Technology Recovery service would restore the PhonepayPlus servers, giving its staff access to the vital information they need to continue to work as normal.
The organisation conducted the first test of its complex IT infrastructure, which highlighted several technical issues. PhonepayPlus and Sungard AS worked closely together to resolve the problems. However, before it could perform its second test, PhonepayPlus experienced major diffi culties with its phone system and took the decision to invoke its Workplace Recovery contract.
“I used to worry that, if our systems were to fail or there were problems with our offi ce, we would be letting down both members of the public who need our advice and providers and other stakeholders who depend on us. But having Sungard behind us gives me complete peace of mind.” Mark Bend, Information Systems (IS) Manager, PhonepayPlus
Ten staff relocated to Sungard AS’s recovery facility nearby, while the remaining employees who were less dependent on the phone system continued to work from the PhonepayPlus premises.
PhonepayPlus stayed at the recovery site for two days until the problem – a corrupted disk on one of the phone system’s root servers – was identified and resolved. Mark Bend reports, “During a real-life crisis, our experience in working with Sungard proved that I could rely on them even more than I’d thought. Everyone from the Chief Executive down was impressed by their speed of response.”
As a result of lessons learned, PhonepayPlus simplified its approach to restoring its infrastructure while Sungard AS developed effective workarounds for the few issues that remained. Mark Bend comments, “Sungard has been open and honest with us from the start, investing time to get to the bottom of issues and communicating throughout. I would recommend them without a shadow of a doubt.”
By collaboratively working with the premium rate industry to pre-empt consumer harm before it happens, PhonepayPlus has cut the number of customer complaints about premium rate numbers by 77% over two years. Due to its success, PhonepayPlus is now regarded as a global centre of expertise, with similar organisations worldwide visiting to learn from its experience.
“During a real-life crisis, our experience in working with Sungard proved that I could rely on them even more than I’d thought. Everyone from the Chief Executive down was impressed by their speed of response.” Mark Bend, Information Systems (IS) Manager, PhonepayPlus
PhonepayPlus is the consumer protection body designated by Ofcom that regulates premium rate phone services, such as 09, 118 and 0871/2/3 numbers, as well as SMS text shortcodes in the UK. It ensures providers of premium rate services comply with a Code of Practice that stipulates, among other things, that pricing information must be clear and accurate, advertising must be honest, and promotions must be appropriately targeted. Recognising that failure of its service could leave members of the public vulnerable to disreputable premium rate providers, and could also cause inconvenience to providers and other stakeholders, PhonepayPlus needed a business continuity partner it could trust to provide both data backup and disaster recovery services.