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Company downsizes call accounting for greater efficiency.

As the PC (personal computer) becomes more powerful and affordable, multisite corporations are finding out what smaller companies have known for years: The PC is a flexible and efficient alternative to mainframe call accounting.

Kirke Van Orsdel Inc., one of the largest private insurance brokerage in the U.S., is a multisite corporation.

Call accounting is no small job at Kirke Van Orsdel. Headquartered in Des Moines, Iowa, the company has 1000-square-foot telecomm room and handles an average of 250,000 calls per month.

Formerly, the company processed calls on a Hewlett-Packard mainframe using software written by Kirke Van Orsdel computer programmers. The system was directly connected from the ROlm 9751 and Rolm 8000 phone systems at the two Des Moines offices to a database program in the mainframe.

Kirke Van Orsdel now uses Telemate Global, a multisite PC-based call accounting system from Atlanta-based Complementary Solutions Inc. (CSI).

Poor data access was one drawback to the mainframe system. Sorting call records to generate reports meant tying up the mainframe for up to 18 hours. Frequently, other jobs with higher priority would bump call sorting from the job queue, delaying reports for three or four days.

"In a mainframe environment, you're constantly competing with other jobs and telecomm reports have a low priority," explains Jim Cleere, communications services supervisor at Kirke Van Orsdel.

Ad hoc reports

With the PC-based system, Cleere has fast, unlimited access to data and reports. He says he can sort 100,000 call records in about an hour and gets all the reports he needs.

"You don't have to run an entire database just to get a few statistics," says Cleere. "You can go in and look at individual extensions, groups extensions, temporary groups, abused numbers, or bad trunk analysis, all on ad hoc request."

Although Cleere is happy with Telemate Global's existing reports, the system offers the option to create custom reports with english query language. To modify reports in the mainframe system would have required changes made to a program written in SQL, a process which would have taken "scores of hours and weeks for anyone to find the time to get to it," says Cleere.

Lower startup costs

PC-based call accounting offers affordability as well as efficiency, and lower initial hardware investment and maintenance costs are important to many companies. PC-based systems can start as low as $5000 for the central-site license and $2000 for each remote site.

Cleere looked at almost 30 PC-based call accounting packages before buying. He chose the current system for its competitive features and attractive price. A central-site license cost $5700, and software and a buffer box for each remote site cost around $3000.

Kirke Van Orsdel's 386 PC provides the time needed for call accounting operations.

"I will easily recover the cost of the system and the PC in less than a year," says Cleere.

Easy installation

Unlike mainframe systems which require the expertise of computer operations people to install, PC-based systems can be self-installable.

"Mainframes are inherently more difficult because you're dealing with a terminal and limited mainframe time available to you," says Cleere. "I'm much more comfortable with a package I can install myself."

Cleere was able to install the call accounting, downloading his extension database directly from the two switches into the call accounting software. He adds that CSI's support team assisted his people in writing a program that allowed them to download data without rekeying.

Reduced telecomm costs

Opportunities for phone abuse increase with the number of phonmes in a company, and with 800 in a single location, Kirke Van Orsdell is a prime candidate for abuse.

"One of the heaviest drains in any company's bottom line is WATS costs," says Cleere. "I would not be surprised to see our outbound WATS costs drop by 10 to 15%."

Cleere says the program also has helped identify and stop local abuse calls that may not cost the company in long-distance costs but take their toll in lower productivity.

Consolidation

With PC-based call accounting, Cleere found a way to consolidate and gain control of telecommunications. From a central location, he can poll all call data into one PC. Buffer boxes, backed up by battery, automatically collect calls at each site, holding up to 100,000 calls.

The PC automatically collects the data with error-checking protocols, and calls are removed from the buffer boxes only after they are safely stored on the PC. Each remote site can have its own polling schedule, and polling from the central site is initiated automatically.

As Cleere and others have found, when it comes to call accounting, the biggest and most expensive system isn't always the best. With features once found only in mainframe systems and even some capabilities that mainframes do not have (such as automatic call processing and easy-to-use query languages), PC-based systems have arrived.
COPYRIGHT 1991 Nelson Publishing
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Kirke Van Orsdel Inc.
Publication:Communications News
Date:Jun 1, 1991
Words:806
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