How It'll Affect You — Fax Machines
Many of the fax machines on campus will not be compatible with the new PBX system, and continuing to provide services for them will be more expensive than replacing them. Thus, the Information Technology Steering Committee has approved a proposal that these old fax machines be phased out in favour of a centralised PC-based fax system.
This new fax system will be rolled out as a separate phase of the renewal project. Whilst the exact solution isn't yet know, the potential solutions are similar and well understood enough for us to make some basic predictions.
Any new centralised fax solution will offer many benefits to the University, including:
- Increased reliability — once a fax is sent from a PC it will be queued for delivery. This means you won't have to stand about waiting for busy numbers or to resend incomplete faxes.
- Higher quality — the outgoing faxes produced by centralised solutions like this are usually clearer and easier to read than those sent from traditional fax machines
- Better accounting — will help control departmental budgets
- Reduced costs — by eliminating dedicated consumables (fax rolls, paper, toner) and line rentals
- Better security/confidentiality — incoming faxes will no longer be left lying around in public areas. They'll instead be delivered to an e-mail mailbox, where a defined group of people can access them
- Better for the environment — faxes will normally be delivered as e-mail attachments and many of these won't ever need to be printed out. In the same way, you won't need to print a document simply to fax it — you can do so directly from your PC
This new system will fundamentally change the way faxes are sent and received at Rhodes. As a result, it'll take some getting used to — you'll no longer walk to the secretaries office to send or fetch a fax, you'll be able to do it from your PC. Therefore, one of the key considerations we'll be putting forward is the need for adequate training to ensure that you know how the new system will work.
One question we've been asked already is how people might fax documents that only exist in paper format. The simple answer to this is that the document will need to be scanned and then faxed from a PC. A survey we recently conducted indicates that a lot of departments already have scanning facilities in and existing photocopier or multi-function printer. The new fax system should enable documents to be scanned and faxed from these photocopiers/multi-function printers. In those departments which currently have a traditional fax machine but don't have a compatible photocopier or scanner, we'll do our best to arrange an alternative.
Fax machines on direct Telkom lines
Fax machines that have direct external numbers (i.e. not connected to the current PBX) were included in the proposal to the ITSC, and will form part of the new fax solution. It is intended that these fax lines also be phased out in favour of the new solution, largely because of the ongoing cost of renting individual telephone lines from Telkom to support them (the University currently spends about R19,000 per month on rentals for them alone), and because many of these lines are being misused to make private, unaccounted for calls.
This aspect of the change will result in fax numbers changing — they'll move from their current number to a number within the University's phone number range. We've already put together the basics of a transition plan to handle this, and this plan ensures that affected departments have adequate time to publish the new number, update their contacts, reprint stationery, etc (the new and old numbers will likely run in parallel for some time, perhaps well into 2011).