How Do Integrators Get Trained?

By Ethan Ace, Published May 30, 2012, 12:00am EDT

Improper training can lead to return trips and dissatisfied customers, increasing integrator's installation and support costs. However, outside of manufacturer training, few formal training programs are available, leaving contractors to their own devices. To find out how integrators handle training their employees, we asked the following question of 93 respondents in our Spring 2012 survey:

Key Findings

Here are our 3 key findings:

  • On-the-Job and manufacturer trainings were the most common methods, and often used in conjunction.
  • In-house training programs, either formal or informal, were not uncommon.
  • Very few integrators rely on independent third-party training.

On-the-Job Training

On-the-job training and manufacturer training (below) were about equal in our survey, with around half of all respondents mentioning them. Most commentors in favor of on-the-job training viewed it simply as "best", giving technicians experience with installations and troubleshooting of real-world systems. Others preferred field experience because classroom training may be forgotten by the time tech uses his training. Lastly, integrators in rural or smaller metropolitan areas preferred on-the-job training as it requires no airfire or other travel expenses incurred when sending techs to manufacturer training in areas where it is offered.

  • "It is a blend, but the best training occurs in the field. Most of the classroom sessions are like drinking from a fire hose. We don't fly people to training. When a series of webinars are used, that is very helpful because they can be viewed many times."
  • "In live installations, because it's better to show live how we have to set up a camera and technician can look on the live installation on site"
  • "On the job training because most forget when you do a class setting"
  • "It is a blend, but the best training occurs in the field. Most of the classroom sessions are like drinking from a fire hose. we don't fly people to training. When a series of webinars are used, that is very helpful because they can be viewed many times."
  • "Through experience and on the job training, a book can only give basic knowledge but when they are troubleshooting in the field that is the best way to do it."
  • "On the job training with manufacturer courses to suit. We're in a remote area, it is expensive to travel for classes so we choose carefully."
  • "On the job training because most forget when you do a class setting"

Manufacturer Training

Manufacturer-specific training was about as common as OTJ, also with about half of respondents mentioning it. Often, integrators answered that this was given in conjunction with on-the-job training, providing both theoretical and practical training.

  • "Product training by manufacturer and in field training by senior techs."
  • "We try to bring in the manufacturers into our office to give short training sessions or send them out to more formal training if it's local."
  • "Factory training when it is hands-on and in-depth. We don't find any value of sending a technician to sit in a classroom viewing PowerPoint slides just to get a certificate. More often, we are finding manufacturers webinars and web-based training to be more efficient and cost-effective."
  • "Manufacturer training is generally the standard. We look to have our techs certified on the brands we sell."
  • "We send them to the manufacturer for initial training. Many of our technicians have enough experience with different systems they can generally pick up on a new one with the instruction manual. If they don't feel comfortable installing a new system in the field after working on it in our office, we'll send them to the manufacturer for additional training."
  • "We prefer to use web-based training courses provided by the manufacturers, as it relates to specific products. Installation training is done on-the-job with a mentor, who they are paired up with for at least a year."

Internal Training

A smaller number of integratrators, answered that they have formal or informal in-house training programs. In some cases this is in the form of classroom or one-on-one sessions, while others simply allow techs to work on their internal demo systems. Multiple respondents answered that these trainings were led by their senior technicians or engineers, who were factory-trained. This reduces training budgets, since one staff member may disseminate his knowledge to multiple lower-level techs, without needing to send them all to factory training.

  • "We have a team of engineers that get trained abroad and then they train our technicians internally. I generally don't feel safe to invest a lot on technicians who have proved to be unloyal to the company. Should they chose to leave, its cheaper and faster to train new guys inhouse."
  • "We have a training room within our office. We bring in technicians and have them trained by other technicians. We found that actually making the technician become the trainer actually made that technican sunbstantially more fluent on that product. So, we now rotate technicians and make them train on systems."
  • "The best way to train technicians has been hands on. We have set up scenarios in the office for them to actually perform the installs/troubleshooting. This gives them more confidence when performing in the field."
  • "We have trained many staff internally with great success. For VMS related projects the IT staff typically deals with the server builds, camera configuration etc. The physical install crew installs the camera and makes final adjustments (camera and software) to suit. IT staff back up and provide technical support for the intall crew to suit."
  • "One on one or in groups inhouse. Sometimes reps will be brought in to do product training."
  • "Internally. best practise along with all the 'quirks' of the software/device. usually 10% classroom, 90% during install."
  • "We have regular (once in 3-4 months) service workshop we are discussing all news and problems. All problem's solutions and tech tips are documented for internal use."

Lack of Independent Training

Only a handful of respondents sent their employees to any sort of non-manufacturer training. Specifically mentioned were ESA, NICET, and BICSI. Indeed, past discussions of this topic have shown that very few quality independent training courses are available. Most security industry options are dated, with material still heavily focusing on analog technology with little mention of IP. BICSI, on the other hand, offers cabling design and installation courses, but only design training and certification in security, with no practical installation training.

 

UPDATE:  To meet the needs of industry professionals, IPVM launched IPVM University - the security industries best, and most comprehensive, independent training in Cameras

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