Surveillance Subcontractor Usage

By: Ethan Ace, Published on Feb 22, 2012

Whether or not to subcontract all or part of a security deployment is often a polarizing subject. Some integrators refuse to subcontract work, preferring to have their staff do all work and maintain complete control of a project. Others say they could never do all the work they do without subcontracting. To find out what is really going on in the industry, we asked integrators how often they use subcontractors.

The Results

Across all integrators, subcontractor usage was mixed. However, the larger the integrator's average job size was, the higher subscontractor usage rose. For instance, overall, a slight majority of integrators used subcontractors infrequently.

However, integrators specializing in small jobs overwhelmingly (more than 2/3rds) infrequently used subcontractors. The results were the opposite for integrators specializing in large projects with more than 2/3rds regularly using subcontractors.

Here, regularly means users answered they were using subcontractors more than 33% of the time. We suspect that there are two factors at play:

  • Geography: Those deploying larger system often serve a larger geographical footprint. This results in higher travel and lodging costs if internal employees are used, making subcontors a more attractive option.
  • Labor skillsets: Larger systems are often more complex than small deployments, requiring more training for technicians. Those deploying systems of this size are less likely to keep a "stable" of lower-level labor to pull cables and install conduit, and less likely to use highly-trained techs for these tasks, making subcontracting more likely.

Quality Control

The main reason given for preferring not to use subcontractors was the issue of quality control. Subcontractors may not be managed as well as an integrator's internal staff. Since they do not report directly to the integrator's project management, nor do they have a direct relationship with the customer, they're often viewed as having less at stake in projects, and thus show less concern for quality or timeline.

  • "We have been better able to control quality keeping labor in house, as well as keeping a unified face to our customers, by having key installers in direct contact with customers during, and after, an installation."
  • "The problem we found we sub contractors is your gambling with your reputation of the company, for instance if you take a 'subbie' on for a job and it turns out he's a hack job it reflects very badly. It's kind of a last resort if the job is particularly big or requires something special that we can't do ourselves. That being said some we had performed exceptionally and would of loved to give them a full time job!"
  • "sometimes we do, but we normally can handle our own jobs. plus it keeps installation wiring consistant from one to the next."
  • "Things go better when we do the job ourselves. We never use subcontractors for installation unless it requires something special like an electrician. We only use subcontractors for service, very infrequently, for simple things like 'plug this wire into this port.' Generally we've found it's better to do it ourselves."
  • "Hard trying to find someone who is affordable and reliable. Sure I can find any guy to run a wire for me on a new job, but trying to get a hold of him when we have a problem with one of the wires is difficult and usually they take shortcuts when running wires making it even harder to track down where the problem in the wire is. You get what you pay for."
  • "I never do i would always prefer my company to do the entire job that way i know its done correctly. my reputation is worth too much to hand out work to subbies."

Subcontractor Skillsets

The most common reason given for subbing out projects was that subcontractors, especially electricians, were often better or faster at certain tasks, such as conduit and cable installation. It is often inefficient to use technicians who are trained and certified in VMS systems, wireless, networking, and other higher-level skillsets for installing cable. Hiring subcontractors for these tasks may lower costs overall, allowing skilled techs to do more higher-level work.

  • "Our company is not a network company so we typically sub out a lot of our structured cabling and advanced network programming. We've also found that electricians pull cable faster and more efficient then our technicians.:
  • "Wherever possible we do the work ourselves to maintain product consistency. That being said, we do not hold ourselves out to be electricians, plumbers, carpenters, glaziers, locksmiths, or painters and are more than willing to offer that related work to others."
  • "Prewire cabling is generally contracted to a specialist cabling company. It is more economic for our company to use their skills rather than have our techs prewire networks."
  • "I'm convinced that the business model for an integrator does not offer the margins to sustain all of the talent in house to meet the needs of the existing customers and complete new installation projects. It's very expensive to keep a cabling/install crew on staff when you are between projects. We have been recently subcontracting some of that work, and focusing our in house techs on back end installation and service/support."
  • "We out source items such as cabling which have become a commodity"
  • "Our office will use subcontractors as often as we can to support project management efficiencies. The cost of a software-literate technical person does not favorably compare with pulling cable, installing hardware, or bending pipe."

Assists in Larger Projects

Many integrators do not have more than a handful of technicians on staff. Hiring subcontractors for conduit and pulling cable may allow smaller integrators to take on projects which they would otherwise be unable to handle.

  • "It's often cheaper and easier to have an electrical install all the cable, conduit, back boxes, etc. required than to do it in house. They'll install the equipment and our techs will terminate , set up the head end, do the programming, and do the testing. We can run a lot of large projects with very few techs this way."
  • "We have only 2 installers on our company; for any bigger jobs we have to do we get extra people we regularly work with."
  • "There's the matter of work load variations and electricians seem to be able to handle that better then our company so when we get a big job were not pushing it so far out."
  • "Allows us to take on bigger jobs without having to keep lots of employees on staff."

1 report cite this report:

Video Surveillance Statistics Directory Vol 2 on Mar 18, 2012
In this report, we aggregate and present numerous statistics about how...
Comments : Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports

Network Cable Usage Statistics 2020 (Cat 5e vs Cat 6 vs Cat 6a) on Sep 02, 2020
Integrators are split between using Cat 5e, 6, and 6a but 2 of them have...
AHJ / Authority Having Jurisdiction Tutorial on Aug 06, 2020
One of the most powerful yet often underappreciated characters in all...
Dedicated Vs Converged Access Control Networks Statistics 2020 on Sep 10, 2020
Access control is a crucial system where the network used can impact life...
Help Security End Users Facing Coronavirus Improve Remote Access on Mar 24, 2020
Many end-users and integrators are struggling with the impact of coronavirus...
Hikvision Temperature Screening Tested on May 20, 2020
Hikvision has ramped up the promotion of its 'temperature screening' system,...
Dedicated Vs Converged IP Video Networks Statistics 2020 on Sep 10, 2020
Running one's video system on a converged network with other devices can save...
The SIA Board Strongly Supports ISC West October 2020 on Apr 23, 2020
The SIA Board strongly supports the upcoming October 2020 ISC West, amidst...
VSaaS Will Hurt Integrators on Aug 06, 2020
VSaaS will hurt integrators, there is no question about that. How much...
Fever Camera Sales From Integrators Surveyed on Jun 01, 2020
Fever cameras are the hottest trend in video surveillance currently but how...
Mobotix Thermal Detection Camera Tested on Jun 09, 2020
For years Mobotix has struggled but now sales are surging driven by Mobotix's...
TVT Temperature Measurement Terminal Tested on Jul 23, 2020
While Dahua and Hikvision get the most attention for China temp products,...
Use Access Control Logs To Constrain Coronavirus on Apr 09, 2020
Access control users have included capabilities that are not commonly used...
FLIR A Series Temperature Screening Cameras Tested on Jun 04, 2020
FLIR is one of the biggest names in thermal and one of the most conservative....
Hikvision MinMoe Temperature Screening Terminal Tested on Jun 23, 2020
Hikvision has expanded its temperature screening options. We tested...
Remote Network Access for Video Surveillance Guide on Jul 27, 2020
Remotely accessing surveillance systems is key in 2020, with more and more...

Recent Reports

Axis Compares Fever Camera Sellers to 9/11 on Sep 18, 2020
Axis Communications, the West's largest surveillance camera manufacturer, has...
Avigilon Elevated Temperature Detection Camera Tested on Sep 17, 2020
Avigilon has entered the temperature screening market with the release of...
Chilean Official Investigated for Motorola And Hikvision Contracts on Sep 17, 2020
A corruption investigation is underway in Chile after a crime prevention...
Huawei HiSilicon Production Shut Down on Sep 17, 2020
Huawei HiSilicon chips are no longer being manufactured or supplied to...
Virtual ISC West and GSX+ Exhibiting Contrasted on Sep 17, 2020
Both ISC West and ASIS GSX are going virtual this year, just weeks apart, but...
X.Labs Sues FLIR on Sep 16, 2020
X.Labs, the maker of Feevr, has sued FLIR, the publicly traded thermal...
Video Surveillance 101 September Course - Last Chance on Sep 16, 2020
Today is the last chance to sign up for the Fall Video Surveillance 101...
No Blackbody Mistake, Half Million Dollar, Hikvision Fever Camera System in Georgia on Sep 16, 2020
A Georgia school district touted buying Hikvision fever screening "about...
Costar Technologies / Arecont H1 2020 Financials Examined on Sep 16, 2020
Costar's financial results have been hit by the coronavirus with the company...
Startup Cawamo Presents Live Alerts With Edge AI and Cloud VMS on Sep 15, 2020
Cawamo, an Israeli edge-to-cloud analytics and VMS startup, presented its...
Favorite Access Control Credentials 2020 on Sep 15, 2020
Credential choice is more debated than ever, with hacking risk for 125kHz and...
Dangerous Hikvision Fever Screening Marketing In Africa on Sep 15, 2020
A multi-national African Hikvision distributor is marketing dangerously...
New Products Show Fall 2020 Announced - Register Now on Sep 14, 2020
IPVM's sixth online show will feature New Products from over 25...
Hanwha 8K / 33MP Camera Tested on Sep 14, 2020
Hanwha Techwin has released an 8K / 33MP resolution camera, the TNB-9000 with...
Gait Recognition Examined on Sep 14, 2020
Facial recognition faces increasing ethical and political criticisms while...