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Chapter 4

Commisioning a Telephone System

At the simplest level, Business Phone Systems are generally divided into 4 categories in relation to size:
Micro: 1-9 Employees
Small:10-50 Employees
Medium: 50-100 Employees
Large: 100+ Employees
 However, when it comes to describing the exact dimensions of a phone system, there are numerous procedures.
In the steps leading up to purchasing a new phone system, it's absolutely essential that you know the exact size requirements of the system for your office, both in terms of physical dimensions and number of 'lines' and 'extensions' you will need the system to support.
Knowing these requirements in advance will best prepare you in making the right decisions when purchasing a system, and before this help to save both time and money during negotiations with any vendors and dealers that you work with.
There are two main factors that will determine the size of the office phone system you need:
Lines (or Trunks )The number of 'lines' or 'trunks' your business requires refers the total number of external phone lines, or ones that move outside the office, that are used by the company. Varying systems and other equipment are dependent on and can be adjusted to support the required number of external phone lines.
Whilst a small business may only utilise 2, 3 or even 1 phone line, larger workplaces will obviously utilise more and this is an important factor in selecting the best phone system. 
The number of 'extensions' refers to the total number of devices within the company that will require connection to the phone system.
While most of these 'extensions' will refer to telephone handsets, it also includes other equipment such as fax machines, credit card terminal and modems. Basically, any equipment that requires a phone connection must also be connected through the phone system and is therefore considered an 'extension'.

Describing the Size of a Phone System

The most common way of indicating relatively smaller sized systems is by using a combination of both lines and extensions in the following format:
Example: '6 x 16' system: indicates a system that accommodates up to 6 lines and 16 extensions.
Alternatively most digital hybrid or PABX systems are define in size in terms of "ports," where a "port" refers to the maximum number of connections that can be made to the system. Ports include outside lines and inside extensions, as well as other phone system accessories such as voicemail or automated attendants.

Buyers Guide Tip: Allowing for Growth

As well as recognising that a telephone system can handle your current business internal and external phone traffic, it's crucial to be sure that it can also handle your future needs to ensure longevity and save you money. An ideal system should be able to handle expansion in the most cost-effective manner possible. Most systems will allow you to increase capacity by adding new cards that increase the total number of ports available, while some smaller systems are expandable by simply adding another cabinet identical to the first one installed.
For planning purposes, you should allow 5-10% for organic growth, so when purchasing a system, inquire about how much it will cost to add at least 10% more capacity. You can and should also look at capacity increases of 20% and 30% to get an indication of the incremental costs involved, as they will vary with different systems.

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