News and Case Studies

Read news and articles on the progress of the superfast broadband rollout in Scotland and more.

James F Stephen Architects

Monday, 02 July 2018

James F Stephen Architects is a forward-looking architectural practice that has created award-winning designs across a range of building types, including residential, commercial, public sector and leisure projects.

“Superfast broadband has had an incredibly positive impact right across our business, allowing us to work more efficiently and seamlessly and to deliver an even better service to our clients.”

The company employs a total of 19 people, with its main office in Glamis, Angus, and a smaller office in Stirling. Their work requires them to share large design files between offices and with clients, builders and engineers. Before they connected to superfast broadband in 2016, this had proved a very frustrating process, as one of the practice partners, Paul Stephen, explains:

“Connectivity was a real issue for us, particularly the upload speed, which struggled to reach 1Mbps. We were using three ADSL broadband lines and had tried pairing two of these lines together in order to boost the speed, but it was still extremely slow for our needs.”

Significant improvements

When the company was able to switch to a superfast fibre connection, the impact was dramatic. Paul says:

“Superfast broadband immediately made a huge difference. Our download speed leapt to over 70Mbps, while the all-important upload speed increased to 15Mbps – more than 15 times the speed we had previously been working with. The improvement in upload speed was particularly important to our business.” Their new fibre-based broadband connection has enabled the company to make some significant improvements to the way they work. Paul says:

“We can now make full use of the cloud and the latest cloud-based applications. For example, we now use Microsoft Office 365 which means all our emails are stored in the cloud and for our architectural design projects, we are now uploading all the design information on to SharePoint. This means our clients and all other parties involved in the project can log on to SharePoint and see the latest version of the document almost immediately.

Working seamlessly

“Transferring files between our two offices has also become much quicker and easier, enabling the two parts of the business to work more closely as one integrated operation. It is also considerably faster and easier to download or update the latest versions of the key software that we use.

“We have set up a Virtual Private Network that allows our two offices to work seamlessly together. This means that if any of us is working away from the business, then as long as we have a good broadband connection we can securely access all the key office software systems from any location with good internet access. With our superfast fibre connection the Virtual Private Network is far more robust and stable than it was in the past. This opens up new opportunities for flexible and remote working and I anticipate that we will make even greater use of this in future.

Cost savings

The fibre connection has also led to a big impact on the business’ telephone systems, as Paul explains:

“We used to have an ISDN line, but our old connection was never stable enough to make full use of the latest telephony. Now, we have been able to move the business to Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology, which is delivering really big cost savings. The use of VoIP helps with integration of our two offices as well, as we can all work from one telephone system, which helps us deliver a seamless integrated experience for clients. We also sometimes use online videoconferencing such as Skype to conduct meetings and reduce the need for travel. Again, with superfast broadband, the quality is crystal clear, so this opens up new opportunities for communication.

“We are lucky enough to be based in a great rural location. This means that our staff can get excellent job satisfaction combined with a superb quality of life. Now, we can enjoy the same superb connectivity here in Glamis that any city-based business would expect.

Paul concludes: “Superfast broadband has had an incredibly positive impact right across our business, allowing us to work more efficiently and seamlessly and to deliver an even better service to our clients.”