Consulting Firm Helps Companies with Telecommunications

Article excerpt

Many Oklahoma firms are only now realizing what many businesses around the United States have already learned - that telecommunication costs are on the upswing. Dramatically.

"Our biggest thing is, we're just trying to make people aware that telecommunication expenses are high, and they're going to get higher," explained Jim Bowie, co-owner of Teleplanning Associates, Inc., 5601 NW 72nd St.

"There's going to be a tremendous increase in telecommunications budgets, and they'll just eat your lunch if you're not prepared for them."

According to Bowie, telecommunications are the fastest growing business expense over the last five years, second only to salaries on many budgets. Yet with a minimum control effort, he estimated costs could be cut by 20 percent to 30 percent without hurting the quality of service.

Bowie launched Teleplanning Associates with engineer Larry Treas in June, 1984, on a part-time basis. Both had been employed in the telecommunications industry for over four years, Bowie as a marketing agent with AT&T and Treas as chief engineer with Centel.

Three months ago they decided to expand as the metro area's first full-time telecommunications consulting firm, Bowie said.

"We saw a lot of areas could be controlled, among most medium or large businesses," he explained.

"In many cases the responsibility (to oversee a firm's telecommunications) has been delegated to someone with other obligations. The person responsible for telecommunications is also the comptroller, or the administrative secretary, someone who can not delegate their full attention to the problem."

Documenting to departmental usage is necessary to record calls and cost-justify telecommunications systems, Bowie said. All long distance companies, for example, send out incorrect bills, he said.

Some analysts have suggested at least 70 percent of phone bills mailed by phone companies are wrong. In addition, some include charges for numbers which were busy or not answered, Bowie noted.

Competition among system venders, meanwhile, has brought on price-cutting that clips profits out of sales, he said. Vendors therefore rely on maintenance and system moves to make profits, which effectively removes system control from customers.

"If they give you control of the phone system, teach you how to move your phone system yourself, they miss out," he explained. "All the vendors do it.

"It's not a malicious thing; they're not trying to take advantage of the public. They're just not serving their own self-interests to sell a system at cost and then teach them (the customer) everything so that they (vendors) don't have to go in later. …