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Architectural Firm Has Designs on More Growth Aided by PBX System.

Five years ago, Atlanta-based Smallwood, Reynolds, Stewart, Stewart & Associates started business with two standard two-line, six-button phones, 600 square feet, two drawing boards, four people and no immediate business prospects.

Today, SRSS&A is one of the Southeast's most successful and progressive architectural and interior-design firms, with a large suite of offices, more than 100 employees, an impressove client list and a telecommunications system that has shared in this rapid growth.

Among the company's current architectural and design projects are Atlanta's two Ritz Carlton hotels, the Atlanta Financial Center, Chick-Fil-A's national headquarters, New Orleans' 500,000-square-foot Poydras Center, the Fireman's Fund regional headquarters, the Vantage Companies, One Atlanta Plaza and Atlanta Galleria, a 2.5-million-square-foot retail, office, hotel project of Trammell Crow of Dallas.

President Phillip Smallwood explains how SRSS&S grew and how its telephone system evolved from its modest beginnings to a digital PBX with 144 ports handling nearly 600 incoming calls per day and more than 100 phones! "As we began to grow, we first went to a 10-button phone. Soon we outgrew that, so we began investigating buying our own telephone system. We started with an ITT key system, but by the time we grew to 35 to 40 people and the system needed expanding, it became both too expensive and impractical to keep adding on to the system."

Smallwood adds, "We began to shop around for a new system, and chose the ITT 3100 system. It did everything we needed it to do and it was affordable. Quick installation, maintenance and service are what we were most interested in, and we haven't been disappointed. But the main thing that interested us about the system was the ease with which it could accommodate expansion. The way it could handle incremental expansion was very important."

The company started with a 65-port system, and has since expanded it to 144-port capacity. (The System 3100 starts with a few as 24 ports and can be easily expanded in modules of 48 to 288 ports. Although primarily a voice, system, data-handling capabilities are to become available early next year.)

The SRSS&A system was installed in 1981. Late in 1982, another module was added, and two additional modules were cut over last year, one early in the year and one in December. The system currently has 14 local trunks, and there are approximately 90 single-line phones, a dozen 10-button direct-station-selection units plus the console. An applications processor with least-cost-routing and SMDR features was installed last year. Better Call Details

In the architectural business, long-distance calls are a directly reimbursable expense that is charged to clients monthly. So it's vital that long-distance calls are tallied quickly and accurately. SRSS&A had been detailing one or two employees to pour over the monthly bills--a laborious, inefficient process, recalls Smallwood.

The firm decided to add ITT's LCR and SMDR features to the system. "It has been an excellent investment," says Smallwood. "The system prints out the long-distance charges by job numbers. We submit these with our monthly bills and are paid the following month. The labor savings alone will pay for that portion of the system in two years. In addition, the feature has taken some of the least-desirable tasks out of the billing process."

Being a service business, Smallwood, Reynolds, Stewart, Stewart & Associates depends on the telephone as one of its principal marketing tools. One of the features of the system that Phil Smallwood particularly likes is the conference-call and paging system. "I can do my own conference calls for out-of-the-office conferences and I have the ability to communicate within the office."

Aside from the flexibility of the system, Smallwood says that one of the prime virtues is that "it always works; we take it for granted. ITT presented us a system that would take expansion 10 lines at a time or 40 lines at a time. That's the way it's happened and they didn't bog us down in technical jargon as to how it happened."

While the firm currently doesn't plan to add appreciably to its staff, it does expect to add other offices and sees the addition of data-handling capabilities to the system as a distinct possibility.

SRSS&A's internal data processing-communications systems consist of two IBM Personal Computers and a Wang word processing system. Its PCs hook-up to an off-premises host computer. "But when it comes to transmitting data across town, we have a primitive system," says Smallwood.

"We use an older facsimile machine. We would be very interested in being able to transmit data other ways."
COPYRIGHT 1984 Nelson Publishing
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Copyright 1984 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Communications News
Date:Jul 1, 1984
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