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La Poste is the national mail service of France. It operates postal services throughout continental France and its overseas departments and territories of Martinique, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, in addition to the nearby countries of Monaco and Andorra. France's postal service was founded several centuries ago with delivery of mail as its main charge. However, it has since added new business sectors to its mail service, including parcels and express courier deliveries, banking, and the La Poste retail brand. With over 300,000 employees, La Poste is the second largest employer in France.
La Poste needed a phone system to serve the 2,500 employees of their Human Resources department. This department uses its phone system frequently during the day to perform tasks related to its human resources activities and personnel matters, such as salaries, benefits, evaluation of performance, as well as career placement. The new phone system it needed had to be set up first to unify 800 users in two separate offices; one in Paris, the other in Nantes. Although La Poste wished to set up an open source VoIP phone system, it knew that it would face certain challenges because it had very little knowledge and experience with VoIP, and it would have to train its employees to use it in a relatively short period of time.
La Poste sent a call for public offering to contract for the phone system. Proformatique, a Digium reseller well-known in France for implementing Asterisk-based phone systems, responded to the call, and won the contract. According to La Poste, it selected the bid of Proformatique not only because the price it offered was slightly lower than that of other competitors, but, more importantly, because the Asterisk-based Proformatique system allowed more accuracy and flexibility than any other system.
It only took a few weeks for Proformatique to install and run the Asterisk-based system for the 800 users in the Human Resources department. It implemented software based on Asterisk, added a Digium TE122P, a TE 407P, and a server to support the phone system, and used SIP and IAX2 to connect to Asterisk. La Poste is particularly pleased with the system because it makes ample use of several features available in Asterisk, such as fax, MeetMe, ISDN, and call parking, to mention but a few. Additionally, Proformatique organized training sessions for the IT department of La Poste, in order to allow it to serve as level 1 support for employees of the Human Resources department.
The system has now been in place for over 18 months, and has been running very smoothly. La Poste is delighted with its new Asterisk-based phone system, because it has allowed its employees to do any and all the operations they require. When asked if he was pleased with the new telephone system, and if it responded to his entire department's needs. Olivier Lenoir, CIO of HR at La Poste, responded: "Indeed, Asterisk can do anything except serve coffee." Sylvain Boily, Founder and CTO of Proformatique, estimates that the Asterisk-based phone system his company installed has already saved La Poste about $ 400,000. According to Boily, La Poste plans to expand their phone system to include 23 external offices, with about 60 users each, and to connect the phone system to the network computer. They also plan eventually to integrate their phone system with OpenERP, an open source management software. Lenoir further states: "We are eager to see our phone system grow and provide even greater flexibility, simplicity, and interaction with the workstation. We have definitely made the right choice."