Manufacturer Representatives to the Systems Integration Market

Supporting the dealer and customer.

How your technology vendor supports you and your customers can be the most important factor for successful and profitable deployments. Great technology is important but the quality of system design, installation and after-sale support can be the main factors for long term satisfaction.

Training

It’s important for your technology vendor to work the way you and your customers prefer, and product training is no exception.

Deploying the most feature-rich and sophisticated security equipment won’t do anyone any good if the end user of the system doesn’t know how to access and use the product’s capabilities.  This is why vendor supported training should be a key component of every successful dealer’s deployment strategy.

Instructor lead training is the most common format available and has several advantages including live Q&A and hands-on time with equipment.

A challenge with instructor lead training is that it requires scheduling, and therefore may be difficult to get all the key players in the same place at the same time.  Another obstacle is the travel costs of getting to and from the class and time of out the field.  While time out of the field may not be optimum, instructor led training may provide the deepest level of product knowledge for both the dealer and customer.

An ideal solution for organizations that have many people to train, or who experience turnover and therefore need people trained over time, is online self-paced training programs.  Although not as common as the classroom instructor lead format, online training has real advantages both in terms of cost and convenience.  Having a greater number of people trained, via an online program, can often compliment the benefit of deeper training with an instructor lead program.

Working with technology vendors that offer both styles of training means you’ll be prepared to support any training needs with your technology vendor’s support.  The right training on the product means the consumer will be fully productive with the product and will result in a reduced support after the deployment.

Self-design and quoting tools

One of the biggest challenges to designing a video recording deployment is determining the minimum hardware configuration necessary for the camera and recording configuration desired.  A deployment with only a few low resolution cameras will require a different hardware solution than a deployment with many high resolution cameras. Factors such as camera bitrate, resolution, system configuration, analytics, motion detection, video retention time and camera frame rate all potentially play into what recording hardware configuration is required.

Many dealers find themselves taking risks by either specifying a lower cost, more competitive hardware solution which may not perform adequately or over specifying hardware which is guaranteed to work well but increases costs and makes them less competitive.

Many integrators will work with a VMS provider directly to scope out CPU, bandwidth and storage requirements for a prospective deployment.   This typically leaves a couple of options: working with a VMS provider’s Sales Engineering department who would manually calculate hardware platform requirements or using an online calculator tool. 

Working through a manual process has some distinct disadvantages.  Mainly the possibility of inconsistent results in the hardware specification process and longer than desired turnaround times for answers.

Assuming an online calculator tool will provide accurate results, the online tool method can provide immediate answers to design questions.  Additional benefits include the ability to make an unlimited number of modifications to designs and immediately receive answers on recommended hardware configurations, which can allow experimenting with small changes that can have a significant cost impact.  As hardware and software improvements are made, a calculator tool can be updated immediately, meaning quoted projects will take advantage of new optimizations without relying on an individual’s product knowledge and experience with new features.

Complete Recording platforms

It’s becoming more popular for VMS providers to offer a hardware line in addition to software.  Using a VMS vendor’s hardware offering has the unique advantage of a single point of support on the entire recording platform. 

As previously mentioned a significant design challenge is determining the correct hardware for VMS software based on the camera and recording configuration.

Using VMS provided hardware ensures the consumer will be deploying a tested and certified hardware platform.  Often VMS hardware platforms will have operating system settings, security settings and hardware configuration optimized for the software, which can result in best performance when deployed.

If the software is preinstalled and pre-configured, time in the field is saved during deployment ensuring labor hours are easier to estimate which helps projects stay on budget.

Access to Technical Support

There is no question that high quality technical support can make or break challenging installation scenarios.  Because network topologies and the mix of security technologies will vary from consumer to consumer good technical support can be the key to a successful installation. When it comes to technical support, three factors are important considerations.

  • Support availability and answer speed
  • Cost
  • Technical competence

Having support available when you need it is the first consideration.  Verify a vendors support hours and make sure it matches up with regular business hours in your time zone.  Having support available outside of normal business hours is often helpful when deploying or maintaining systems during off hours.  Having 24x7 access as an available option can be an invaluable tool especially when things don’t go as planned.   

Support cost is another consideration.  If a deployment is not going as expected, then it’s likely the security system dealer is already facing a cost overrun due to extra and unanticipated labor hours.  Adding vendor technical support cost on top of already mounting installation costs is not a good scenario for anyone.

Technical competence is difficult to quantify but providers who offer total security solutions, selling products that range from access control to cameras to VMS, may not be as specialized in any one area.  Providers specializing in a single technology area will have support engineers who focus 100% of the time on that application category meaning they’re more likely to have come across the most nuanced of circumstances leading to faster resolution of technical issues.

There are many factors involved when selecting the right technology products to deploy for your customers.  While features and value are key, support during and after the sale can be critical to creating a satisfied customer.

Original article: http://www.sdmmag.com/articles/92059-life-after-the-sale