When the subject of lifecycle management comes up among consultants, project managers and security professionals, the conversation is traditionally focused on IT network concerns related to is the administration of a system from provisioning, through operations to retirement. Every IT system, resource, and workload is defined by its lifecycle. In these terms, lifecycle management allows administrators to reliably construct systems in an automated and scalable manner.
In the context of physical security, maintaining continuity, ensuring open lines of communication and encouraging a collaborative mindset among the principals in an enterprise-level project are the core advantages of embracing a lifecycle management approach. For systems integrators, advanced software is available to help them take initial designs and convert them into comprehensive installation projects while capturing all key data points crucial to the job. By using the concepts built into the fabric of available lifecycle management software, integrators and their end-user clients can confirm that project managers, installation technicians, coordinators and customers are on the same page with real-time installation project tracking.
Making Lifecycle Management an Integrator’s Friend
Like many software solutions that are now embedded into the physical security industry, the dynamics are much different than in past alliterations. Integrators are seeing solutions in this space that are being built for the industry as opposed to general solutions that users were struggling to apply to the industry. One such company is SiteOwl, whose management solutions software evolved from work done by its founder Joseph Ndesandjo at 3Sixty Integrated, a security service company and integrator which he ran for more than 20 years. It was there in San Antonio where he absorbed the lessons he learned to fashion a highly focused, cloud-based solution that provides a data dashboard linking integrator and client from the design process, through the actual project itself and into the service phase.
“When we think of the lifecycle, we talk to our customers about the sales and design phase. Different integrators have different names for it, but the operations or installation phase and then the service phase is pretty consistent. What a cloud-based solution can do for you in a world where you have these three distinct phases with different teams is to provide a centralized repository that gives you access from anywhere and instead of doing these very awkward handoffs between these groups where information gets lost if everything wasn’t captured correctly. In those cases, you're trying to recreate things. Having everyone work off the same data as the system moves through its lifecycle provides this high-level efficiency and also a lot more accuracy,” says Scott Ryder, COO at SiteOwl who leads Product and Customer Success at the company, which will be showcasing its solutions at the ISC West show in Las Vegas this week.
He adds that having a cloud-based system allows all users to perform real-time updates, so if a project manager changes a part number or moves a camera, the technician sees that immediately in the field.
“Then the project manager immediately sees things that the technicians are dealing with. Working with a digital floor plan during service, rather than working from a paper plan that becomes stale, as soon as you go out and you swap out one camera or you change the IP address, you've got a dynamic floor plan that evolves with the system as it moves forward,” Ryder says.
According to Ryder, the SiteOwl software improves the lifecyle management process by providing:
- Collaborative Digital Designs – by creating and sharing rich digital designs with customers, subcontractors, engineers and technicians
- Maximized Projects Profitability – that can eliminate inefficiency and scope creep by maintaining alignment between customers and project teams
- Efficient Team Management – by tracking daily productivity, installation quality and real-time project status
- Standardized Field Reporting – that allows connections from the field to the office with purpose-built mobile apps for technicians and subcontractors
- The Ability to Win More Service Contracts – by helping customers confidently manage their security systems with full visibility of their entire infrastructure
- A Way to Turbocharge Business – by differentiating your company by giving customers a proven process that delivers a great customer experience
Cloud-Based Solution Aids Project Management
From a systems integrator’s viewpoint, collaborative design and project management challenges can prove a huge issue with their clients – one that can lead to either failure or success. But how can integrators be convinced to move out of their comfort zone and begin embracing cloud-based systems even if there are use cases to show them an ability to maximize profitability on their projects by increasing efficiencies?
“We tell them what we've seen in how this plays out. One challenge that I've heard from multiple integrators is when you're working on a construction job and the general contractor (GC) calls up and starts yelling at you about why something wasn’t done. Our customers have been able to pull up SiteOwl, go to the device that couldn't be installed because the penetration wasn't completed or the conduit hadn't been run and show the GC a picture that the technician took that showed exactly why they couldn't finish the job,” Ryder says, adding that the information is downloaded to a mobile device in the field, which provides immediate credibility with the GC.
He explains that the integrator saves themselves a lot of pain because they have tangible quality control. When technicians take photos of work after they've finished it, integrators can review all of that from their desks. They don't have to go out and do a site walk so they are spending a lot less time on the road. The culmination of all of these factors results in better outcomes for projects and higher efficiency that is combined with quality.
“So now your margins are up, and you've got more competitive pricing you can offer. When you start providing examples like these, integrators latch onto that. You make it real to them and we can also connect them with other customers, non-competing integrators and have them discuss their business experiences. We get a lot of case studies from our other integrators that we share during the sales process,” adds Ryder. “Another way we are big is on helping integrators achieve recurring revenue through service. With the system that we have, after you've gone through installation, it just takes the click of a button and you're able to publish the project work that was done into what we call our living floor plans. The ability to do that makes providing service so much easier. We actually establish or put integrators in a position where they can resell to their customers and SiteOwl can be a line item. It also can help generate additional revenue as we give them channel-based pricing that they can then mark up to MSRPs.”
Taking Advantage of RMR
Ryder and his team believe that service contracts are going to be a key part of how integrators start to grow their businesses and get into a more consistent revenue stream rather than trying to survive in a paycheck-to-paycheck project-based world. By creating a service contract relationship with their clients, integrators are now able to provide varying levels of follow-up maintenance.
“With our system, their end-users can easily log in and see exactly what their system looks like today. If multiple projects have been run on the same floor, we actually aggregate all that so you’re able to see the final solution. You're not going to three different project plans and trying to envision what this looks like as a completed project. All of that is then digitally aggregated,” describes Ryder. “So not only is the project team able to offer the client this view into what their system looks like today, but end-users can click through and see photos of (what the future) systems and coverage areas might look like. They can start to plan out additions to the system. This helps with future sales as the integrator can highlight areas that are lacking coverage and point out where you would (recommend) them to do expansions of the system.”
While the systems integration team has myriad options to facilitate design and deployment with lifecycle management software like this, Ryder feels it is the end-user who is the eventual beneficiary throughout the process from design to installation and finally the training and service phase.
About the Author: Steve Lasky is a 34-year veteran of the security industry and an award-winning journalist. He is the editorial director of the Endeavor Business Media Security Group, which includes magazines Security Technology Executive, Security Business and Locksmith Ledger International and top-rated webportal SecurityInfoWatch.com. Steve can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.