Project Plans for Security Integrators

By Brian Rhodes, Published Jan 26, 2018, 09:26am EST

How do security integrators typically plan projects? A detailed playbook with step by step execution? Just go out and do it? Somewhere in between?

100+ integrators told IPVM how they plan projects and what level of detail they use.

Project Work Planning Statistics

Based on responses, most integrators do plan projects out, but with only about a third of them answering they do so with high levels of detail:

However, the most substantial and detailed plans are tied to big projects, with many noting that smaller projects are often looslely defined or even not formally planned at all.

Notable ******

*** ******* ******** *** plan ***, ******* *********** themes ****** ******* ***** all *******:

  • ******* ******** *** ***: As ***** ** *** ********** ******** ******** ********** (Project *******) ******, *** ** ** typically *** **** *** master, *** **** *** chief *********** ** ******* the **** *** *** project **********. ******* ********* note **** '*** ****' frequently **** ****** ***** on **** ********** ** circumstances, *** ** *** PM ** *** ***** to ****** *** ****, it ******* ******* ***********.
  • ****** ******** **** **** Detailed *****: ******* *** is **** *** **** comprehensive *** ************* ***** apply ** *** ********. Indeed, **** ******* ********** never ** ****** *** plans *** **** ************ by *** ** ***** installers ** * *** days, *** ***** ****** much **** ********* **** worked ** ****** **** weeks *** **** ** coordinated ******* ******** *******.
  • ****** ******* *** ********** *** Often ****: ** ***** of ***** ********* *** data ******* *** ****, nearly *** *** **** form ** ****** ** blueprint ** *** **** tool *** ******** ****. 

** *** ******** *****, individual ****** ********* ***** these ****** *** ***** key ******.

Big ******** *** **** *************

*** **** *** ********** of * ******* ********* ******** *** ****** ** integrator's **** ****. ****** projects, ********** ***** ********* multiple ******* ****** ** coordination ******* ******* ******, often *** *** **** most ********* *** ************* planned:

  • "** *** ****** ******** due ** *** ***** nature ** **** ** our ********."
  • "******* ** *** **** of *** ******* *** generally *** ******** ** a **** *******/*** *** scope ** **** ********* to ** ********. **** can ** ****** *********** at ***** ********** ********* on *** ******* ****. Larger ******** $***+ **** have * ******* ******* timeline **** **********."
  • "******* ** *** **** of *** *******. ***** projects *** ***** **** details. ******* **** *** often **** ** *** techs ** ****** ***."
  • "** ****** **** ******* to *******. **** ********** is ******** *** ****** and **** ******* ****."
  • "******** **** *** **** a ***** **** ******** have ******** ***** ****** and ************* *****. **** work **** ********** **** they *** ****** **** the ******. ***** ********* by ****** *** ** coordinated **** **** ***********."
  • "*** **** *********** ******* for ** ** ** urban *******. ** *** manage ** ***** *******, you **** **** * daily ********. **** **** plan **** ******* *** type ** ****** ******* there *** * *** of *********** ******* *** different ****."
  • "** *** ******* ** the ******* *** *** PM ********* **. *** large ***** ********, ** have * ********* *** process. *** ***** ********, it ***** **** **** but *** ******* ** too **** ********* *** low ***** ********."
  • "****** ******** **** **** a ***** ***** *** detailed ****. **** **** tend ** **** **** if *** ******* ******* is ******** ** *** details. ******* ******** **** does *** **** ***** or ** ********."

****** ******** ******* *********** coordination, ********* ****, *** labor ********, *** **** their ****** ******* ******* ***** for ***** ******* ***** smaller ******** ** ***.

PM ***** *** ****

********, ******* ***** ** the ************* ** *** plan ******* ************* ** a ******* ******* ** current *** ******** ** as ***** *********** ****** work *****. **** ********* is *** ******* ************** ** the ******* ******* *** ***** ** ** official ***** ** ****** someone *********** *** **** job.

  • "*** *** ** ****** detailed ** ****. * don't **** *** ********* but * **** ** works **** *** ***."
  • "**** ********, *** * am **** * ***** cog ** *** *******. I ** *** ***** end ***** ** *** Users, *** **** * turn *** ******* **** to **, **** *** with ** **** *****. I ** ***** ** have * ******* ** so **** **** *** problems **** **** ** me..."
  • "*** **** *********** ******* for ** ** ** urban *******. ** *** manage * ***** ******* , **** **** **** a ***** ********. **** work **** ** ****** all **** ** ****** beacause ***** *** * lot ** *********** ******* the ********* ****."
  • "*** **** ***** **** from *********** ** *********** to ******* *******. **** salespeople ***** ** * detailed ***** ** **** for *** ** *** technician *** **** *** really *****. **** *** PM ***** *** * detailed ***** ** **** but **** ** ****** to *** **********."
  • "** **** * ***** project ******* **** * few *** ***********. *** assigned ** ** ******** to **** **** *** work ***** *** ** hit *** **********. "
  • "**** ** *** **** project ** ***** ** 3-4 ***** *******, *** PM ***** ****** ***** milestones."
  • "*** ******* ***** ** work *** ******* ****** documents **** *** ***** to ********* ** *** proposals *** ******** ************ and ********** *** **** will ** **** ** the *****, **** ** PM's *** ******* *****."
  • "**** ******* ******* ******** their *** **** *****, job **** ************, *************, etc. **** ** ******** to *** ******* *****. "

Some **** **** ** ******* ********

*******, *** *** *********** employ ******* *****.  ******* responses ***** **** ************ efforts *** **** **** organic, *** ***** * basic ****** ** * few ***** *** ** used, **** ************* ******** work ** ******** *** execution ** **** ********* to **** ****** '******* their ***':

  • "**** ***** **** ****** gather ****** ** *** site **** *******. **** let ****** ***** ***** schedule. **** ** ** work ** ***** ** cameras. ***** ********* *** of ***** ** ****** jobs ***** ** ****"
  • "** **** ****** ***** workplans, **** *** ** any **********-******** ********* **** how ***** ** ***."
  • "** *** ****** ** track *** ****** *** projects. ** ***'* ******** very ********, *** ** all **** **** ** included **** **** **** of *** *******."
  • "** ** *** ****** have *** ****** ******* work *****. **** ** up ** *** ******* manager *** ******* ** determine ** *** ***** with *** ***** ****."
  • "********* *** *** **** detailed, *** ** ****-****** high ************** (*** ******). "
  • "***** **** ***** ********* and ******* ******** *** translated **** **** *****. Sometimes ** ** ********, for ***** ****, ******* the ****** ******** *** too *********** *** ****** notes ** ****** *****."
  • "**** ****** ** *** workplans *** ****** ** my *******."
  • "****** ******** *** ***** are ****** ***** ***** on *** *** ** project ********** ***** ** run **** ****** ** don't ***** ***** *** during *** *****."

***** ********* **** ******** mentioned **** ***** ** formal ******** ** ****, it ***** ***** ** beneficial, * ***** **** clear ** *** **** theme:

Strong ****** *** ******

***** ****** *********** ** no ******** ***** ********* the **** ******* **** followed. ******* ********* ********* that ************* **** ***********, better *******, *** **** comprehensive ****-******** ***** ** * welcome ******:

  • "*** **** ***** **** no ******* - ** don't **** **** * project *****. ** *** can ******, **** ***** poorly. **************, **** *** order ***** ********* ** materials ***** ******* ** coordinating ************ **** **** to ******** ****** ****** to ********** *** *** is ****."
  • "***** ******* ** ***** with **********. ****** ******** first ******* **** *** job."
  • "**** *********** ***** ** a ******** ***** ** work *** *** ** and ********** *** **** are ****** *****. **** the ** ***** *** a ******** ***** ** work *** **** ** convey ** *** **********."
  • "*****. ****** **** *** location. **** *** ***. Would ** **** ** have * *** ****, such ** ***** *************."
  • "** **** ** ********* this"
  • "** ********* **** **** detail *** **** * good ****."
  • "** *** ******** ** the ******* ** ************ project *********, *** **** are *** ***********. ***** now, ******** **** **** what **** ***** ** best *** ***** ******* and ** *** **** it. ** ***** ******* pretty ****, *** ** tend ** *** **** much ***** ** *** really *** ******** ** bid/spec ********."

Software ***** ****

*******, ***** **** ********* noted * ********** ******** or *** ** ***** used *** ********, ***** was ** ***** ****** answer.  ** *******, * mix ** ************, * camera ****** ****** ****, and ***** ***** ********** programs **** ******** *********, but * ******* ** tools *** ****:

  • "** ******* ***** ****** for * ******** ** our ********. **** *** pretty ********. *** ***** charts **** **** **** when **** *** ******** and *** ******* ***** are ************ ** *** various ************."
  • "** **** *** ****** and ****** (**** **********), then ** ********* *** installation ** ******. **** installer ***** *** ** our ***** ******* ***** on ***** **** **** complete. ** **** *** had *** *****"
  • "** ************** ******* ******. ************ we **** *** * rack ******. ** *** use **** *** *** calculator ** ******** ******** views"
  • "** *********** ****** ****-**-**** ********* for *** ********. ** get ***** **** *** technicians ******** *** *** job ***** ** **** to ****** ******** **********, which ***** ***** ******** and **** **** ** are *** ******* *** critical *****."
  • "******** * ********** **** overlays **** **** ** other ****** ********** *****. Not ********* ******** **** enough *********** ** *** the ****** ******. "
  • "** **** **** **** up ***** ***** ***** Adobe ** ** *****. We **** **** * plotter ** ***** *** our ******** ** ****."
  • "** *** ****** ** track *** ****** *** projects. ** ***'* ******** very ********, *** ** all **** **** ** included **** **** **** of *** *******."
  • "********** ********** & ***** drawings. ** ***** * lot, *** **'* *** perfect"

** *** **** ***** in *** ******* ********** series, ** **** ******* project ******** ******** ***** specifically."

Comments (10)

 Good report and what I would have expected. It really comes down the money and time investment to make the efforts to make a plan. Bigger projects have that money benefit. Smaller ones less so.

Another factor sometimes though is if the customer side lacks a project Sponsor or PM on their side, or at least some designated Point of Contact. Even on some big jobs, I have seem changes and decisions get bounced around from person to person on the customer side. When a customer does not [edit] have a formal Project Process on their side, it can have adverse affects on the Installers side.

Agree: 4
Disagree
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Funny

We create a basic floor-plan for every job no matter the size as this explains to the technician what was discussed with the client. We give or technicians the flexibility to make on-site changes. The majority of our systems are 100-400 cameras. Over doing original drawings adds administrative costs, we work to maintain a 60% margin on all jobs and adding double or triple design hours is unnecessary if you have a well trained, experienced, well-compensated staff. 

Agree: 1
Disagree
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We give or technicians the flexibility to make on-site changes.

Do your techs get customer approval before proceeding with their on-site changes?    

Agree: 1
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Funny: 2

No they just at will do as they please, What kind of question is that?

Its all about the relationship you establish with customers, being a hard ass gets you no where, offering to see things in their eyes can open doors later. I can be a real hard ass if I want to, Im far from a push-over. We dont agree to 10k changes on a whim, no. Moving a camera, adding a camera or two not a big issue to write home about. Its about trust, you trust them, they trust you to do the right thing for them and things do work out. Its about the next job too, remember that. I trust no one personally, except my dog, but I try real hard to work with clients that are smarter, more educated that myself and it has worked well for me. I sold over 3000 IP cameras last year, how many did you sell?

Agree: 1
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Unhelpful: 3
Funny: 1

It was the kind of question that I thought you could easily answer. Just the other day a tech installed something for me, but changed the mounting height without my permission. That resulted in the device not being ADA compliant and it had to be re-installed. I was hoping I could learn if this type of on-the-fly change was something techs regularly do.

I've bought a few IP cameras last year. :) 

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Informative: 1
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I've never seen a good project planning for security part in Canada. Even when people say they made a good plan, they just don't know what a real good plan looks like.

When I spoke to the sale guys, I figured the reason: customers here do not understand the importance of planning stage of the project and documenting as well. In Europe we always sold documentation and PM hours as a part of the project. You would look not professional if you don't do that. Usually, 3-5% for technical documentation and up to 10% for the project management. Here if integrator want to do it properly, they have to include all those expenses as a project overhead and decrease the margin. That's why it's usually mess

Agree: 2
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Interesting findings. I think this really depends on the customer as well. We do things a bit different at my company. We create our own project plans/drawings, and we call out our own equipment to make sure it meets our standards.

This essentially creates more competition and drives down prices, since all of the integrators who will be submitting bids will be bidding on the exact same things. Then it just comes down to who can do it in fewer billable hours, and who can get the best pricing on the equipment from their suppliers.

Unfortunately, I realize most customers don't have the expertise or the time to take matters into their own hands. That's something people will want to think about before building out a system they depend heavily on, which will be managed by someone outside of their organization.

Agree: 1
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man, I do the same: design the system, search for contractors to install. Funny thing: when I receive my quotes, the same job could be easily quoted for $50k or $100k. And I'm talking about professional companies, not just "Jonh and my truck ltd." I believe that's because of poor estimating culture in our area.

Just remembered one of my first jobs. When we've finished the project, the owner said: "Guys, we spent twice as many hours compared to what we sold. We still made some profit though". That's an example of our security estimating - multiply hours by 2, just in case :)

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Yikes! Reading the posts on this subject is quite alarming!! Project Management in our Industry has some maturing to do for sure....that said, major projects throughout Canada couldn't have been accomplished without a level of professionalism that does exist. Also, and to be clear, don't under estimate the level of expertise that exists with your 'End Users'. In fact, many have teams that are specifically trained to provide a level of oversight that ensures the accountability of the Integrators, Consultants and Manufacturers. To those that are attempting to stay close to 60% Margins, or selling at double the required labor hours, I suspect that your customer base will be shopping for Integrators with Integrity and transparent line-item pricing. Some of us in the 'End User' world were trained and employed by Integrators first - as PM's and Operations Managers. Enterprise clients hire us to ensure fairness in pricing and professional delivery of systems are paramount. Project plans, scheduling with milestones to match progress draws, drawings, weekly correspondence, etc. are expected and your clients will pay for this as part of a Professional Service. Some of the posts in this stream are not representative of the Security Industry....I hope?
Agree: 1
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EU4, there are good, well organized integrators, and there are less organized integrators. Just like there are well organized end users, just like there are disorganized end users that create as many problems for themselves as poorly organized integrators. Just like there are some end users who claim they want transparent line item pricing for integrity, and there are those that want it so they can shop around.

I think the realities of lower budget projects that don't afford the level of planning and organization that multi-million projects do is getting a little conflated in the discussion. Big budget projects for the most part get pretty good planning, and those that tend to not get very good planning I have seen tend to have been those clients who shopped around for the lowest bidder.

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