When customers are deciding to start migrating their analog CCTV and DVR-based surveillance systems to IP cameras and network-based recording, up to 80 percent of their time and budget is consumed by planning, designing and building the new IP infrastructure and systems. As a result, there is very little time or budget left for post-installation support needs. This mistake often turns an initially happy end-using customer into a very dissatisfied, end “losing” customer. These post-installation support problems quickly place strains on the relationships between the customers and vendors, further complicating the post-installation support processes.
The focus this month will be on how to manage the post-installation and life cycle needs of a new IP surveillance system and build upon last month’s column, which discussed the fast growing Do-It-Yourself segment of the IP surveillance marketplace.
Time vs. Money
Post installation and life-cycle management phase of a new IP surveillance infrastructure and system have the longest duration compared to the design and build phases of an end customer’s operations. The life-cycle management phase typically lasts three to seven years, depending upon the quality purchased. Compare this to typically less than one year for planning, designing and building phases. However, when comparing the investment in terms of dollars most projects will spend 70 to 80 percent of their budget on the planning, designing and building phases. This typically leaves only 20 to 30 percent to be spread out over the next five to seven years, which is equal to two to four percent of the entire costs of the system. This leaves many end users in very vulnerable operating positions because so little was reserved for post-installation and life-cycle management. Further complicating this situation is that the initial support needs are the highest immediately following the installation.
Most end users considering a migration from the analog-based CCTV system to an IP-based surveillance system would benefit greatly by following a similar total cost of ownership model that looks similar to that of an IT-based system. This model supports at least 40 percent of the total cost of ownership allocated during the post installation and life cycle management phase of a project. In this model, at least 10 percent of this amount is planned for use during the first year after the installation phase. This allows end users to prepare for the unexpected issues and costs that always arise after the installation of new technologies or systems.
Post-Installation Support Needs
Immediately following the installation, end-users typically receive basic training on how to use the new system; however they often do not get training on how to support the new system. This can become an expensive problem, especially when the new IP surveillance system is sharing the IT department’s network, servers and storage resources. This creates very complicated support processes and without proper support training, it becomes a reactive rather than proactive, support model. Another key post-installation support area of trouble is the frequency of systems back up. With the highest amount of changes being made to a new system happening within the first 30 to 60 days after the installation, it is easy to justify a daily backup. Last, system bug fixes or incremental updates are often needed to deal with technical issues that are revealed when the new IP surveillance system “ramps up” from heavy use. These updates are most critical just before and after the installation.
Life Cycle Management
After a period of between 30 and 90 days after installation, the life-cycle management support processes become important. These can include retraining, moves, adds and changes to the system, health monitoring, security and expansion. Among these activities, health monitoring and security are the most overlooked. Without proper system monitoring, the stability of IP surveillance systems tends to be very low, due to a lack of knowledge and resources invested in this area. There are several tools, systems and technologies that can be used to provide visibility into the health and security of a system. Another area that typically suffers over the years is the lack of retraining. Many end users experience staff turnover or don’t invest in training on more advanced features. This typically results in lower overall satisfaction and capabilities of the security operations. A good strategy for preventing this is to plan for some type of continuing education activities and resources. Don’t start your new IP surveillance system’s end user experience, and allow it to become an “end-losing” life cycle.
About the Columnist:
Keven Marier is the founder and CEO of Connex International, Inc. He has a 20-year background in technology consulting, publishing and educating within the physical security technology and enterprise IT industries.
Read moreSurveillance Strategies online at SecurityMagazine.com/Columns/Surveillance