Business priorities today are so focused around cutting overhead and expenses that they have lost sight of the bigger picture of protecting their people, property, business assets and “brand.” Protecting these assets comes with a cost, and companies are willing to roll the dice and not budget the necessary funds annually to make sure there is a service strategy in place for their valued security and life safety systems. It is costing them money.
With your business in mind, ask yourself the following question, “What is my service strategy?” If your answer is anything like, “If it breaks, I will call you, and you will come fix it,” then you are on the wrong path. This is not a service strategy, but a billing model. Of course there are those who would argue that the break and fix mentality way of doing business is a strategy, and yes, one could believe that it is, if your strategy is to only cut the cost of the services you need to maintain your systems. But this is very short-sighted and risky thinking.
Consider for a moment the major investment your company has made in its security and life safety systems for the business? How are you protecting that investment? Have you considered the three main reasons this large investment was made in the first place? From a high-level perspective, the answer is 1) to help the company mitigate risk, 2) to help meet compliance needs and 3) ultimately control overall operational business costs.
So why consider a service strategy? First, it protects your company’s investment. It helps ensure that your security and fire alarm systems work when called upon and as designed. When tragedy strikes, a loss of life is horrific enough, but then add to this the effect this will have on your company’s “brand” or reputation, and the problem is compounded. This risk is mitigated when your systems are regularly maintained and tested.
Secondly, it allows your business to plan and budget for the upcoming year. How can you budget for an expense if the trending has been up and down year after year? With a service strategy in place, you will know exactly what your exposure is and what to expect to pay each year. With services provided on a time and materials basis, there is a tendency not to plan for regular maintenance. This exposes the organization to increased risk and liability.
Third, your systems’ uptime versus downtime could affect business. For example, If not regularly serviced, a card access system that breaks down and locks people out disrupts the normal flow of both internal and external customers. Employees are delayed getting to their departments, costing the department production and money. External customers can become dissatisfied. To further the point, consider that if a card access system doesn’t receive its software upgrades (and software fixes) when released, the system is likely not to perform as designed, and users initiate workarounds that increase your risk and liability.
There are other benefits that come with a service strategy. As a service provider performs their annual services, they become familiar with your people, buildings, policies and business protocols. They know where all the equipment is located, and how it is wired. Knowing this translates into quicker service repairs, it’s easier to manage, and downtime is limited, costing the business less.
From a big picture business perspective, having a service strategy in place it will help sponsor a stronger business relationship between you and your service provider. Why do you want this? The service provider will get a deeper understanding of your business goals and needs. They will help you get the most out of your security and fire system technologies to help you meet those goals. As they become deeper involved with the complexity of your integrated systems and technologies, they will be able to provide you larger business-related value-engineered solutions. They will help you budget for planned obsolescence, identify technical enhancements and provide scalable solutions for your systems you will need as your business grows. A time and materials arrangement doesn’t allow this business “partnership” to grow; your total cost of ownership (TCO) for your systems goes up, not down.
Finally, a service strategy allows the service provider to plan for future repairs that will limit your downtime and minimize your risk. A world class service provider will have built on site a spare inventory unique to your systems. This makes sure they have the necessary parts to fix it right the first time. They will keep updated prints and wiring diagrams for your facilities on site (and electronically security permitting) for easier identification of equipment. The service strategy should include “look in capability” by the service provider so they can solve problems, update software and check system status quickly and efficiently. A break and fix mentality won’t provide any of these.
Here is a list of what some of the best service strategies should include:
- Preventative Maintenance
- Corrective Maintenance
- Test and Inspect
- Software Support Agreements
Add to this these possible services based on your business needs:
- Central Station Monitoring – This include monitoring of intrusion alarms, video monitoring and building systems critical alarms.
- SaaS (Software as a Service) – These services provide a fully secure management of your card access, video and intrusion systems for a monthly fee.
- Training Programs – These provide ongoing training for new employees, system redundancy and training for new technologies being introduced to your business.
- Embedded Technicians – These technicians come in at scheduled intervals and perform simple or more complex system tasks on your system depending on your team’s capabilities on site.
So which service strategy is right for you? The simple answer is the one that best meets your business needs toward mitigating your risk, meeting compliance and controlling costs.
In conclusion, a service strategy protects your investment and your business. It keeps your systems performing as designed and on demand. Service strategies maintain your equipment and keep it running at a high level for as long as possible. Which means you can control your operational costs. Finally, you will be using your capital dollars on important business needs like improving and growing your business.