PCYC delivers community services across Queensland with resilient network transformation

PCYC Queensland needed a new network before an existing unreliable platform contract expired. During the COVID pandemic, Telstra and Entag delivered an SD-WAN rollout to a geographically widespread network of venues that transformed the organisation’s experience for staff and customers. Through careful attention to the needs of every location, the new network has achieved steadfast reliability and enabled a confident marketing stance for PCYC that delivered its highest ever gym membership figures. 

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Connectivity failures putting revenue at risk 

The technology team at PCYC Queensland deal with the challenge of vast distances every day. From inner city areas to remote regional locations and coastal islands, PCYC management is always concerned with keeping its 160 work locations running smoothly to serve local communities across a state seven times the size of Great Britain. 

“We are so geographically dispersed that we can’t get to the endpoint easily in many areas. If you have a hardware failure somewhere like Aurukun, flights are ridiculous and if you’re going to drive there you better hope it’s the dry season.” 

Mitch Ryder, Chief Operating Officer, PCYC Queensland 

Network reliability has been a tremendous challenge. The organisation faced consistent equipment failures and network outages, with even redundancy systems failing under existing agreements. The battle to keep systems operational was always reactive, with frustrated staff informing head office of problems that were difficult or impossible to triage remotely. 

In the context of running PCYC gym venues with 24/7 access as a selling point, if entry scanners and safety cameras go offline there is only one option available: close the gym until problems are resolved. The not-for-profit generates over 80% of its revenue through its commercial services, across out of school care programs and gym memberships. Ensuring these businesses serve paying customers effectively is essential to the organisation’s success. 

“We don’t take a hardline approach to contracts or joining fees like some of our competitors,” says Ryder. “We are solely reliant on member experience for retention. There is no barrier to exit. If they’re unhappy, they can just go join another gym or do something else.” 

In 2020, with its existing technology service contract ending, PCYC Queensland went to tender and chose Telstra and its partner Entag to upgrade technology operations to a more robust, reliable service to transform its operations for the future. 


Network transformation on a hard target deadline 

The deadline for the PCYC Queensland technology upgrade program was tight, with just four months from initiation to the cut-off date on its existing contract. Meeting the deadline was seen as mission critical, with significant costs if the organisation was not completely transitioned by the end date. 

Telstra and Entag worked carefully to understand the needs of the many diverse locations involved with the PCYC network. For some, NBN connections were well incorporated. For others in remote areas, wireless networking was the only available option. Ensuring the tolerance for variable backbone services would be important to the reliability of the new technology environment. 

“Together we looked at the speeds needed, we looked at the costs of connection options, and worked out the best way to affordably deliver a service to suit each location.”

Mitch Ryder, Chief Operating Officer, PCYC Queensland 

A new SD-WAN was designed for PCYC Queensland, which included a transition for phone services away from a traditional PABX onto a new Microsoft Teams based calling system. Together with a rollout of upgraded network hardware, the new infrastructure would make services more easily adaptable to the whatever broadband was being used at each local venue. 

The new Microsoft Teams calling system also offered PCYC a simple path away from deskbound telephony. With the technology rollout taking place in the midst of the COVID pandemic, this opportunity for hybrid operations for its office staff became an important feature to keep the organisation running smoothly. 

In PCYC venues around the state, traditional handsets that operated through Teams were also included to accommodate an easier cultural adjustment for PCYC volunteers. It was important to the PCYC technology team to make the transition as smooth as possible given years of poor experience under the previous supplier. 

Caring for the needs of each local PCYC team was seen as an important aspect of the new SD-WAN rollout. Ensuring each location was given individual attention was part of showing staff that the new network cared for their needs. With the addition of improved resilience of the network at each venue, the new infrastructure would also minimise the need to send technical staff on expensive trips to remote areas if anything went wrong in future. 


Strategic partnerships ensured on-time delivery 

Telstra and Entag planned the rollout based on Cisco Meraki hardware to deliver the SD-WAN to all PCYC Queensland clubs. Given the short timeframe for the entire installation and the extremely high demand on new technology hardware during 2021, this was only possible through Telstra’s relationship with Cisco. 

“The estimated lead time on some hardware was longer than the whole project needed to be,” says Ryder. “With Telstra and Entag as Diamond Partners of Cisco they were able to get priority access to deliver the job on time.” 

The new PCYC Telstra broadband network operates on the best available connectivity at each location. For well connected areas this means NBN fibre connections, while in more remote areas 4G and 5G provide the backbone. All connections are backed by redundancy options to ensure network reliability for 24/7 operations. 

“One of the key strengths of Entag was that they were local. They understood the geography, they understood the issues, they had the resources to throw at it,” says Ryder. “It was really running three concurrent projects at the one time. But for us it really was seamless.” 

The transformation project extended to two further projects for PCYC Queensland. The organisation quickly progressed a cloud migration that became easier thanks to the SD-WAN rollout, which in turn enabled the shutdown of its head office in favour of moving to satellite office arrangements across seven office locations. 

“I factored into our resourcing internally that there would be a period of time for troubleshooting issues, but we haven’t had to do any of that. We’ve been able to bring forward projects that we were not expecting to get to – things like cybersecurity.” 

Mitch Ryder, Chief Operating Officer, PCYC Queensland 

The new Microsoft services layer has also enhanced a range of PCYC technology operations. Microsoft Teams calling was integrated with a new Telstra IP Telephony (TIPT) system that offered PCYC maximum potential as a hybrid calling service. The new Microsoft Azure cloud data environment also enabled centralising payment systems for easier management as well as enhance data and network security for the whole organisation. 

“We now have a number of feeds come into our platform to give us real-time reporting and alerting on any network and security events so our team can act on them straight away,” says Ross Bloomfield, Operations Manager, Digital Solutions, PCYC Queensland. 

Watch the I.T. Deep Dive for PCYC Queensland here


Success drives new innovation and commercial growth 

Since its new network went live in 2021, PCYC has found its new SD-WAN infrastructure performance has been remarkable. 

“We saw massive improvements in terms of the speeds that we were providing,” says Bloomfield. “The bandwidth that we're providing to our remote sites is a huge boost in productivity.” 

The PCYC Queensland team reports the resilience of the new service has been near perfect and staff found the transition to be as seamless as they had hoped. 

“This is a 75-year-old organisation that has been through a lot of change and doesn’t really like change, but I can honestly say I didn’t get one complaint from any site or any employee in PCYC.” 

Mitch Ryder, Chief Operating Officer, PCYC Queensland 

“When there’s an issue at a site now we’re not getting frantic calls from staff, we’re contacting them to say that they’re on failover while we’re working on a solution,” says Ryder. “They don’t even know anything is wrong because the redundancy is working so well.” 

Most importantly for PCYC revenue, the organisation says that since the new SD-WAN rollout it has quickly grown to serve more gym customers than ever. 

“We bounced back from COVID faster than the industry average,” says Ryder. “The new network has given us confidence to truly sell the product as a go anywhere membership because we know the system will work the way customers expect it to now.” 


PCYC Queensland is a charity celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2023, delivering youth and community programs, services, and facilities across the state.

A team of staff and volunteers work to build safer, healthier communities through youth development through sports including gymnastics, boxing and martial arts. The charity’s revenue is primarily generated through its commercial out of school care and gymnasium programs. 

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