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Mississippi CPAs integrate companies and data/voice net.

The amalgamation of two leading Mississippi CPA firms appeared to be an easy task, at least with regard to the accounting end of the business. Vicksburgh-based May & Co. and Jackson-based Koury, Ready, Butler & Co. were staffed by expert certified public accountants. Continuity in client-related activities was assured.

Integrating voice and data communications, however, offered a challenge. Dissimilar systems would have to be made compatible, brought up to contemporary standards and expanded for future growth. The resulting installation not only satisfied those requirements, but also reduced the firm's monthly toll charges by more than $1,300.

Combining the two well-established firms made sense. Vicksburg's May & Co. also had an office in Jackson, the home of Koury, Ready, Butler & Co. Relocating the two Jackson operations into the newly renovated Bank of Mississippi Building brought about immediate efficiencies and economies of scale.

"Growth of both firms was steady," according to Ken Hicks, managing partner of May & Co./Koury, Ready, Butler & Co. "We viewed the combination as a logical next step to our continued growth and a natural progression in maintaining the highest standards of certified public accounting and service to our clients."

Yet, the 45-mile gap between the two cities had to be bridged to ensure that the firm reached its maximum potential.

Telecom solution

Although Jackson and Vicksburg are connected by an interstate highway, the ribbon of pavement was not enough to tie the two offices together completely. To share resources properly and make operations seamless, a telecomm solution was needed.

For this task, the firm called upon Experienced Telephone Service (ETS) in Jackson, one of the region's largest telephone equipment suppliers. Curt Barnes, president of the company, explains that a complete telecomm audit was needed.

Says Barnes, "This included more than just their hardware; we examined calling patterns, past phone bills and future requirements."

The analysis revealed that the Vicksburgh phone system, while strained, still had a future. The existing systems in Jackson, however, could not accommodate the combined operations. Additionally, toll charges between the two cities were excessive.

The ETS solution was to design a private telecomm network. At its heart would be a Telrad Symphony II digital system in Jackson connected to the existing hardware in Vicksburg. Today they are using four voice and two data channels. The rest of the 24 channels are open.

"We chose the Symphony II," says Barnes, "because it is software driven. It is so flexible and programmable that we could make it compatible with the existing equipment in Vicksburg. Among other things, the customer had to purchase just one, not two, systems."

Lower cost

"In terms of voice and data communications," says Managing Partner Ken Hicks, "our two cities became one by establishing our own private network. This will save us almost $16,000 a year in intercity toll charges alone. Additionally, the least-cost-routing feature in Telrad's Symphony II automatically selects the most cost-efficient path for long-distance calls."

Another cost-saving feature is the ability for a Jackson-based employee, for example, to access any Vicksburg phone number through the tie-line and have the call treated as local versus long distance.

Hicks says using the intercom to call from one city to the other is as simple and clear as calling the next office.

In addition to voice communications, the private trunk handles transfer of data over the firm's networked personal computers along with an increasing volume of facsimile traffic.

"The system accommodates up to 96 central office lines and 250 telephone instruments," he says, "allowing for future needs. Software upgrading will keep 'obsolescence' out of our hardware vocabularly for quite a while."

"Beyond the technological and cost-saving aspects," Hicks adds, "is our confidence that this system will enable our firm to continue to provide the highest degree of client service."
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Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:PBX/Key/ACD Systems; a merger of May & Co. and Koury, Ready, Butler & Co.; certified public accountants
Publication:Communications News
Date:Jul 1, 1992
Words:626
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