Top 3 End User VMS Complaints

By Ethan Ace, Published Jun 10, 2012, 08:00pm EDT

What do end users most dislike about VMS systems? What are the real hot button that make or break customer satisfaction? We wanted to discover the top drivers and did so in our Spring 2012 survey by asking integrators the following question:

Out of the nearly 100 answers, we found 3 complaints voiced over and over:

  • Usability
  • Support Costs
  • System Limitations

We examine each of these in detail, with quotes from integrator respondents, below.

Usability/Learning Curve

By far, the most common complaint of end users is usability of the system. This applies to everyday tasks, such as exporting video or simply operating the client. It also reflects how steep the learning curve is for a given system.

  • "User friendliness. VMS software manufactures need to make it user friendly and intuitive. Maybe even offer a light? client for users that just need basic playback and live viewing."
  • "The Learning curve from what they are used to."
  • "From the operations side it is the lack of "standard" user interface. Too many clicks, not being user friendly, not being intuitive to use, etc."
  • "A lot of options seems to confuse the end user. Milestone has a nice option to hide all the extra's in the client. and Exacq also has a slim interface that helps with that."
  • "Ease of use as well as simple how to guides. I now write my own how to guides as often the client does not need a 100 page manual but a quick guide to do enable them to find footage and download it. Easily!"
  • "Difficulty exporting recorded video. Even with Genetec it is hard for an end user, who uses the system occasionally, to remember how to export video. On the other hand, a security or dispatch desk operator who uses the program every day does far better. We've countered this somewhat by preparing custom documentation that details common procedures, however we still receive technical support calls."
  • "In one word : Complicated."
  • "That it is hard to use (mostly computer inexperienced people). Some call me every time they want to get a recording."
  • "How hard it is sometimes to export video. It's rarely intuitive. Also any software that requires you to go to a different screen or tab to rewind or review video."
  • "We don't have many complaints, but the ones we receive the most complaints from are the occasional system users that do not use the system often and have difficulty remembering how to do things like retrieve archived video."
  • "Searching and retrieving archived video. A lot of VMS software really fails at this."
  • "Biggest complaint with VMS software is understanding how to operate the software. The typical customer gets very overwhelmed with all the tick boxes and buttons on the screen GUI. I believe that VMS should be very easy to operate for end users maybe do a simple screen and an advanced screen separate for IT/installers and one for operators making it easy for all."
  • "Our typical customers (multi-family housing and retail) require simplicity and ease of use based upon the diversity and turnover of system users."

Maintenance Agreements

A number of users objected to ongoing maintenance fees, or did not understand what these contracts brought them. The majority of integrators do not view maintenance agreements as favorable, either, as we found in a separate question in this survey.

  • "Many of our customers still complain about the cost of the Software Maintenance Agreements. Even the IT guys, who are familiar with product and software maintenance agreements, don't feel that it is absolutely necessary. It only becomes more painful if they let the SMA lapse and chose to renew it years later…"
  • "Mainly the cost of the high end products we sell and their associated support costs but if they want it they have to pay it."
  • "The license cost and ongoing software updates. Especially with OnSSI. We explain that the software updates are their to provide protection for the future but it's tough going up against the VMS software that have no updates and the customer is short sighted."
  • "Cost! Most end-users haven't been exposed to the Cisco model of annual support fees per device. If dealing with the IT department it's a much easier pill to swallow because they've been exposed to the business model."

System Limitations

Finally, end users did not understand the limitations of their systems, in respect to zoom levels, recording and playback framerates, and other features of VMS. These questions have become more common as resolutions move to megapixel, and more storage and higher processor speeds are required to do things which were common when using analog cameras and DVRs.

  • "Why can't I see 24 simultaneous multi-megapixel camera views at the same time?"
  • "Customers want to know why they don't have control of every single last variable of every camera. Why can they set presets from the VMS on this model, but not on another? Why does this VMS allow them to draw a box around an object to zoom in but not that one? Why does this camera go back on tour after manual control, but this other one doesn't? It's hard to explain why some cameras are integrated at a deeper level than others, when the most integrated cameras are sometimes not the best performing otherwise."
  • "The CSI effect. "Why can't we see the persons eye color from 300 feet?" We honestly attempt to establish customer expectations up front but when every night they watch Person of Interest or CSI they think that every camera and VMS should be able to operate like a 30 MP camera."
  • "Why cant I watch all 72 cameras at full frame rate at 1280 x 720?"
  • "Customer: Why is the picture not smooth when i am playing back, can i up the FPS to 30FPS? This is when his request was for 30 days of storage and his budget allows only 5fps to achieve the 30 days."
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