Integrator Managing Projects Statistics (Project Manager)

By: IPVM Team, Published on Dec 14, 2017

Who actually manages projects for security integrators? Does the average security integrator have dedicated project managers, or are technicians, sales people, or even the owner managing projects?

Moreover, what business factors dictate when PMs are used, and which group do many integrators say NEVER to make project managers?

Inside, 120+ integrators told us who manages their projects and why.

*** ******** ******* ******** for ******** ***********? **** the average ******** ********** **** dedicated ******* ********, ** are ***********, ***** ******, or **** *** ***** managing ********?

********, **** ******** ******* dictate **** *** *** used, *** ***** ***** do **** *********** *** NEVER ** **** ******* managers?

******, ***+ *********** **** us *** ******* ***** projects *** ***.

[***************]

Key ***** - ******* **** ********** *** ** ******* *******

*** ********* ***** ***** responses *** ******* ******* size ******** *** '******* Manages' ****. *** ***** companies **** ******* **********, the ***** ** **** more ****** ** ** PM ********** - **** times ***** **** *** sales, *********, **********, *** the ******* ** ***** jobs * ***** ************* is ********* *********** ***.

*******, **** ********* **** larger ** ****** ****** projects, ************** *** ******* Management ** **** **** likely ** ** ******* by * ******** ****** whose ******* ******** ** handling ********. **** ***** breaks **** *** *********:

******* ****** *****, ********** for *****-****** ***********, ** to ****** *** ** role ***** ******** *********, namely ***********, *********/*********, ** technicians.  ** ******* ***** groups *** *** ******, along **** ****** ******** insights *****.

Owners ** ***** *********

*** **** ********** ****** among ******* ***** *** that *** ***** ** principal ******* ** *********** for ******* ********** - often *** **** ********** responsible *** ******* **, designing **, *** ************* it ** ****:

  • "*****, **** ******* ** all *******"
  • "****** (*****) **** ********."
  • "****** *** *****. * handle *** ******* ******* I **** ****** **********."
  • "***** ***** **** ****'* that ***. **** ** differentiate ******* ****** *** project **********."
  • "*****. ** ***** *** he’s *****." (****** ********* by *** *****.)
  • "** *** * **** small *******! *'* ********* to ** *** ***** and ****** *** ********- and * **** ** that ***."
  • "***** (******). ** *** a ***** ******* *** do *** **** *** quite ***."
  • "***** *******, *** ****** revenue ** ******* ** justify ********* ** **** be ******* **** ***** to ****** ****** ** pm ** ****."
  • "*****, ***** *******"

*********, ********** ** ***** may **** **** *** owner ** ******** ****, but ** ***** ** high-level ************* *** ************, the ***** ****** ***** that *** *****.

PMs *** *** ********, *** *********

*******, **** ********* ***** larger *****, ** **** become ****** *** **** complex, *** **** ** often ****** **** ** formal ******* ********, ***** main *** ** **** coordinating ******** ** ****:

  • "*** ****** ******** *** complicated ****** ** ****, a ********* ******* ******* will ** *********** ** oversee *** *******."
  • "******* ********. **** * company ***** ** * certain **** *** *** are ******** **, **, or ***+ ******** ** one **** *** **** have ********* ********* **** to **** ** **** the ******** ** *** project *** *** ******** of **** ********"
  • "******* ********. **** **** with *** ***** ****, sales *********, **********, *****, and ******* ************ ** ensure **** ********** **** done ** **** *** on ******."
  • "****** ******** *** ******* by *** ******* ********. The ******* ******** *********** oversee *** ** **, but ******** *** *** day-to-day *** ** ***** techs."
  • "******* ** *** *******. Smaller ******** ***********. ****** projects * **."
  • "******* ********. ** *** company ***** *** *** many ******** *** ******** to **** ** **** and ***** *** ** to **** *** ******. The ******* ** *** enough ***** *** ***** doesn't **** ** ****** projects ******* *** ******'* be **** ** **** our ****. **** ***** don't **** *** ****** mind *** ** ****** projects."
  • "****** ** ******* ****. dedicated ** *** ****** jobs."
  • "******* ********. **'* ******** to ******** ******** ************* and **** ******** ************* with *** ******* *********** and *** *****. ********* sales *** ***** *** not ****** *** ****."
  • "******* ******** *** **** to **** ***** ** larger ********" 
  • "***** * ***** ******* (20 *********), ** ** not **** * ********* project *******."

Sales ** ***** ********* ****

********** *** *****/****** *********, some ******** *** ****** over ** *** ********** technicians ** ******* ** the *********** *** ****** the ******** ** *** first *****.  ***** **** arrangement *** *** ** ideal, **** ******* ********* often ******* **, *** good ******* ***** **** down ** ********** ****** and ***** ** *** worker **** *** ** role, *** ******* *** titles:

  • "*** *** ***** ***** projects, **** *********** *** medium/small ***** *** **** PM ******** ******. **** effective *** **** *********** are *******."
  • "** ******* ** *** size ** *** *******. If ** ** *******, our *********** *** ****** it. ****** ***** ******** may ** ******* ** an *********** **** *** our ****** ******** *** handled ** *** ******* managers. *** ******* ******** technically ******* *** ** it, *** ******** *** the ***-**-*** *** ** those *****."
  • "********** *** ***** ******** that *** **** ** a ****** *."
  • "****** ***** ****** ******* projects"
  • "*** ****** ** **** question ******* ** *** size *** ***** ** the *******. *** ***** projects, *** *********** **** most ****** ****** *** project. "

Do *** *** ***** *** ******* **********

*******, ******** ********* ***** that *********** ****** *** be **** *** ******* management, ** *** ******* experience *** **** *** and *** ****** ****. Response ********* ****** **** 'future **** ******** **** sales ** ******** ** PM', ** '******** ************* suffer', ** '*********** *** to *** *** **** corners ** **** *****' were *****.

********** ** *** *********, the ********* *** *****: Many ***** *********** ****** not **:

  • "**** ** ** *** sales ******, ***** ** a ******** ****. ** have ******** ***** * project ******* *** *** having **** ******* ******* pains *** ** *** fact **** ** *** learning *** **** ** didnt ****."
  • "********** *** ****** ** that **********(******* ** **********) tend ** *****-******** ************ hours, ***** ********** ***. to **** ***** ***** down *** ** ** more *********** *** ** the ********* ** *** company."
  • "*** ******* **** ***** managing - ***** ****** be ******* *** *** next ********. **** ****** not ** ******** ***** time ******** * ***. they ****** ** *** selling. ** **** ** both, *** ****** **** suffer. ***** **** ** view **** **** * 10,000 **** ****. **** don't **** *** **** or ********** *** **** details ** *** ***. "
  • "** **** ** **** have *** ***** ****** manage ******** *** ** hindered *** ******* ** keep *** **** **** and ** ********* **** between ******** **** **** avoidable."
  • "*** ***** ******, **** need ** ****** *** relationship **** *** ********"
  • "**** ** **** * contract ******** ***** ** out ** *** *******. We **** ** ** very ********* **** ******** are **** **** *** that *** ******** ** happy. ****** ***** ** often * ********* ** both."
  • "***** ****** *** ***** at *******, *** ******* disconnected **** ******* **** it ***** ** ***** pools."
  • "** *** ******* ***** are *** **** ******** for ******** ** **** up **** *** ***** job ** ** **** not ******."
  • "********* ** **** ** project, ****** * ****** technician ** ******* ******* gets ********. ***** *** SALESPERSON."

...But ***** ***** ******** **********

** ** *****, *******, that **** **** ***** is *** ******** ** Project **********, **** ***** take * *****, ******* role ** *** ******** relationship. ** **** *****, once *** ******* ** installed, ** ** ****** back *** ** *** salesperson *** ******* **********.  For **** ***********, ***** is ***** *** ******** to **** ******, *** it ** ********* **** stay *****:

  • "**** *** ******* ** sold, ***** ***** **** the ******* ** ** Operations **. *******, ** is * ************* ****** of ***** *** ********** to **** ******** ***** the ******* ** ****** off ** *** ********."
  • "***** ***** ******* ******* installations **** ******* *** kickoff, ******* ****-***"
  • "***** ******, **** *** opportunities **** ****** ** grave"
  • "******* ******** ** ****** however ** ** ********** job **** ***** ** a ***** ***** **** 3 ****** ***** ** never * **** "*******."

Split ************** ******* ********

** ******** *********** *** not ****-**** ******* ********, the ************** ** ***** shared ***** ************ *****. The ********* **** ** assign **** ****** ** firm, *** **** ** individual ***** **** ******, but ********* ******* ********* PMs *** ***** ** assigning ******* *** ****, simply ** **** **** work ** ******* ********, communication ******* ******* *******, and **** ******** ** maintained:

  • "** ****** *** ****** Senior **** ** *** job. ********* ****** *****. Because ** **** *** had *** ********* *** a ********* ** *** because ** ******** ******* is * ***********."
  • "** **** *** ******* managers *** *** *******. One ** * ***** person, *** *** ***** is * ****** ******* tech. ********* ** *** number ** ******** ** have ***** ** *** one **** ** *** tap *** ***** ****** to ****** **** ******* management **** *** ******* tech *** *** **** on *** *****."
  • "** *** ******** ******** have **** ******* ** a *********** ** *** sales ***, *** ********** and ***** **********. ** just *** ** ***** an ********** ******* **** will ****** **** ******** going *******. ** **** without * **** *** manager (**) *** ************* the **** **** *** so ******** ******* ** to ****** *** ********, with ******** ******* ** some *****."
  • "** *** * ***** company ** ******** ***** many ****. ** ***'* have ****** **** *** title ** ******* ******* so ********* ******* *** handled ** ********* ********* although ********* **** ** this ************** ***** ******* the ****** *** ********** the *** *** *** lead **** **** ** executing **."
  • "**** ******** *** ******* by *** **** **** with ********** **** *** Manager *** ***** ********. This ** * **** of *** ******** **** is ***** ****** *** will ****** ****** ********* on **** ******** ** decide ** *****. *** process ********* ***********."

Comments (28)

My opinion as an end user is that the PM's I've worked with are great people with great intentions, but all too often they seem very overworked and it shows in the final product.

Meetings, walkthroughs, copious notes, more meetings, proposal, proposal gets ironed out until I'm satisfied, plans come together and the project starts.......only to have the techs arrive and say "OK. What are we doing". 

I often see a disconnect between the PM and the techs who arrive on scene. And it has nothing to do with the competency of either.    

This is a great revelation regarding the persistence of poor project execution/completion in the security industry. 37% of systems are implemented by technicians or sales people. I, as a manufacturer, should not have to spend nearly 40% of my time fixing incompetence. 

There are very few sales people who have even a basic understanding of video/networking technology let alone commissioning a system. I can't tell you how many projects I've designed and helped an integrator sell only to get a call months later that nothing is functioning as sold (retention, pixelization, latency, "I didn't know it could do that," etc). 90% (roughly) of the systems I get called back to "fix," have all system settings at default rather than as specified even though complete system design parameters were defined, communicated and nearly demanded in advance. It's horrendous.

Even many "seasoned" project managers don't follow our advice/recommendations for implementations. It's not that difficult. Teach yourself, get taught, follow the recommendations of someone who knows or don't do it.

And after that, it's always the manufacturers fault. Go figure.

I understand the business side of it very well and the costs associated with having the right staff in place. Unfortunately, a lot of integrators really shouldn't call themselves integrators. Sorry for the rant but this has been a huge problem for a long time. 

This is a great post. As owner and certified project manager, I can write all I want, but if there is bad communication, especially among the various trades, a job will wind up being very painful. 

I don't know why, but I have my suspicions, door hardware vendors are the worst right now. There is little to any project management from them and the poor techs are fed to the wolves.  I have seen jobs where they bring the wrong equipment, not enough, no paperwork at all, no plans, and they give us a courtesy call on Saturday morning to say they will be at the job in an hour; can you meet us?  

My last project of size, they showed up for a "review" and not one had so much as a screw-driver. 

I feel for those guys, I really do, but Door Hardware companies are severely understaffed and overworked. 

You know what, it's not just the security world. Maybe it's the low voltage world in general. We recently partnered with a major audio/video company as the experts in their field while we stuck to our field, security. They ended up being very poor in communication with our lead guy. Their "project manager" would show up to resolve issues without his laptop. Questions would often go unanswered for days. Their techs would show up to troubleshoot a known problem without their tools or diagnostic equipment. We had to argue with their techs about why a problem was their equipment and not the customer's equipment, and we'd end up being proven right. Their PM was essentially useless.

"Experience has taught us that Salepeople(working on commission) tend to under-estimate installation hours, cable allowances etc. to keep their price down and to be more competitive and to the detriment of our company."

"What? No! There won't be anything in the way of the wireless bridges. It's clear line of site and will save us a lot of money. We won't need to trench a line."

Tech shows up onsite, and they're looking at a rain forest.

Those of you using full time PMs for your projects.  Are you charging your customer for the PM labor on the projects? 

Integrators that I've worked with always charge for PM, even when there is no PM! Just another line item on the proposal to up the cost. Rarely have I had a quality PM that adds any value. Poor PM's and inexperienced techs are all around us! Don't get me started!!  

EU #4  Oh I know.  It's one of the reasons we are having another recorded breaking year!!  

We just brought on our first dedicated PM and it's been a huge help to keep the install process running smooth.  The process is not perfect yet but we are building out new processes in Connectwise to make sure all projects get installed efficiently and correctly.     

I totally understand.

As an integrator and PM, I often noticed that end users were not receptive to paying 'Project Management' line items when the job had problems, missed the schedule, or otherwise did not match the forecast.

We do when it's anything like say 20 cameras or doors or more, and never had anyone complain about it yet. Quality integrators yield quality results. Always check for references. It's the end result that ultimately matters.

We build in a given percentage markup on all project costs for every project prior to final mark-up.  This is effectively us covering (most) of our overhead including PMs.  Having PMs track their hours to be applied against a job is an unnecessary stress “which job that doesn’t have enough PM hours do I tank”. generates negative feelings between sales and project management. There are never enough PM hours in the job for a project manager and sales wants to trim everything out until the job is essentially free as long as their commission is preserved.  No good comes of that.

For many projects Absolutely! Customers often ask for PM, I want 1 hour weekly conference calls, monthly meetings, ondemand follow-up training. 

Small 1 week jobs, PM is factored as part of intall labor so its not shown but factored.

I like these survey's, but it seems there is not a whole lot of time to respond to the questionnaires. I know it's a side topic, but how long typically do you keep survey questionnaires open?

Surveys are usually kept open for a day or so. We like to get enough results to get a good representation, and will pay attention to general trends of the responses. At a certain point you start to see what the groupings will be, and collecting (and paying for) additional responses does not tend to yield new data, so it makes sense on our end to close the survey out at the point.

Thanks, just trying to save on that membership cost whenever possible. :)

LOL. Setup an email rule to look for IPVM surveys and do a push notification to your phone :)

 

We aim for 100+ responses and we get those in just a few hours.

We have found over time that the results and patterns of comments do not change notably after 100 comments, ergo our approach.

Cheapskate. :)

Seriously, though. That is a pretty good number and never imagined you'd get so many responses that quickly. Interesting info.

It's because we pay! We generally pay $1 per question and the typical survey is 5 questions (so $5). We offer payment via PayPal (cash) or via Member's credit (usually with an extra $1 or $2 total).

I've always wondered how other media and research firms expect people to answer surveys for free, or the for the insulting chance to win a gift card.

I do think our approach to paying results in far higher quality and more accurate results than hoping people will do work for free so you can make money off them.

The Problem is then its based on attendance not real figures , like surveys  or statistics , not real 

Just a good figure

even if they stayed open a week you would get a better figure of reality. 

 

I often don't answer , due to Time 

 

even if they stayed open a week you would get a better figure of reality.

That assumes that people who answer on day 2 or 3 will give materially different responses than day 1. We have not seen that to be the case.

From a consultant's perspective, I have found that having the right PM can largely determine the success of a project. I feel that having a PM that is not the salesperson who sold the job and not the technician that is doing the actual work on the project provides some necessary checks and balances.

Project management is a discipline in itself and not everyone is cut out for this position. A good PM is part engineer, part accountant, and part diplomat, possesses great written and verbal communications skills, and is able to stay calm under pressure.

To the extent that I display favoritism to certain integrators who have performed well for me in the past, it is almost always the great PMs that work for these companies that make me feel the way that I do.

One troubling trend that I have seen lately at the big national integration companies is a policy that measures the success of their PMs based on the amount of change orders that they can generate. One PM of a leading national integrator told me in confidence that he was expected to write change orders totaling at least 15% of the original contract amount on every job. Failing to do so would negatively impact his performance review. I think that it is a conflict of interest for PMs to be put in this position.

"One PM of a leading national integrator told me in confidence that he was expected to  write change orders totaling at least 15% of the original contract amount on every job."

Michael, that is beyond upsetting to me. I don't remember the PMI teaching that! Used car salesmen or trusted security advisors?

"One PM of a leading national integrator told me in confidence that he was expected to write change orders totaling at least 15% of the original contract amount on every job."

Not only that, it could be tantamount to fraud. We always suspected part of the reason we'd loose by so much on some bids is competitors would undercut us expecting to make it up on change orders.

Large Integrator but small Security Dept.

With Structured Cabling, Security, A/V, and Networking all in one project an overall PM is used with individual specialized PS's for their respective disciplines. The PM does the major coordination on large construction projects, attends meetings, interface with GC and Customer Reps etc. Separate Estimators and Engineers are used to build the Proposal and even after acceptance, still involved when necessary.

Always a good idea to have sales involved (not in a PM role) to maintain that connect with the Customer. And yes, the Customer is charged a percentage of the total hours estimated for both a PM and a PS.

Better communication = Better results 

Weekly accountability meetings 

Constant awareness of schedules and time lines

I have seen many bad PMs who did not pay attention and the jobs got away from them. 

I Watched a 4 story parking garage get built with it 1" out of square, they found at the end, when they went to put in the stairways, elevators, then they cut areas open , installed jacks, blocks & tackle and pulled the garage back into square. 

one of the pms got fired over this one. 

So the rule applies ( The Buck Stops at the PM)

I have learned to be hands on, constantly in touch and keeping tabs on people & pushy to get people moving. 

This has done to me what many Pm's become (Cat A personality), never letting go, aggressive, Driven, Controlling, With the jobs always on my mind . 

Some times it helps to Play Guitar , De-stress, Let mind wander somewhere else. 

The Key is "What Part do you play" Job or guitar

I think problems can come from smaller companies (and maybe other sizes?) where the senior tech is acting as the project manager, but company owners or management expects them to also act as a technician and do the same amount of physical labor, leaving little opportunity for the senior tech to supervise and manage the job. No reason someone acting as a PM can't pitch in a help when needed on something, but their first responsibility should be to oversee and manage the job, not be a tech.

As an end user who does many new construction or full site remodel projects a year, it is pivotal for our integrators to use PM's. Often when a project kicks off there is no need for a tech to be onsite, pulling cables, and installing hardware.

However there are weekly construction meetings that are vital to attend to learn if there are any changes to the project, questions asked of the GC, or to ask questions of the GC, etc.

All to often schedules change due to construction delays, weather delays, or schedules may be fast tracked and not being present on the job site often hurts the integrator. Having the PM on the job allows him to attend these construction meetings. That's the role and responsibility of the PM. The tech needs to be in the field installing equipment. Not sitting in meetings.

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