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 surveillance is being used in the real world. Recently, we conducted an in...
Comments : PRO Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports

Access Control Job Walk Guide on May 22, 2019
Significant money can be saved and problems avoided with an access control job walk if you know what to look for and what to ask. By inviting...
Maglock Selection Guide on May 16, 2019
One of the most misunderstood yet valuable pieces of electrified hardware is the maglock. Few locks are stronger, but myths and confusion surround...
Bank Security Manager Interview on May 15, 2019
Bank security contends with many significant threats - from fraudsters to robbers and more. In this interview, IPVM spoke with bank security...
Mining Company Security Manager Interview on May 10, 2019
First Quantum Minerals Limited (FQML) is a global enterprise with offices on 4 continents and operations in 7 countries with exploratory operations...
ADT's Top Dealer "The Defenders" Sued 20+ Times on May 07, 2019
ADT's largest authorized dealer, The Defenders, has been sued more than 20 times since 2012, IPVM has verified through analyzing legal...
Ranking Manufacturer Favorability 2019 on May 06, 2019
24 manufacturer's favorability was ranked based on 170+ integrators feedback. Voting plus in-depth comments revealed insights on which brands were...
Registration Closed - Spring 2019 IP Networking Course on May 02, 2019
Register now for the Spring 2019 IP Networking course here - Closed. Last chance now.   This is the only networking course designed specifically...
LenelS2 Launches VRx Video Platform on Apr 29, 2019
For years, S2's video management platform, the NetVR, was based on Exacq. Now, after years of internal development, S2 has launched its own...
Amazon Marketing Pro Installs of Amazon Security Systems on Apr 25, 2019
Is Amazon a threat to conventional providers like ADT, Vivint and Brinks Home Security? Many say no. Now, Amazon is advertising free in-home...
Ex-Integrator Now Growth Strategist Interviewed on Apr 24, 2019
For more than a decade, Scot MacTaggart was a security integrator (at PA-based PSX). In late 2018, he left the industry. He is now a Growth...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Access Control Job Walk Guide on May 22, 2019
Significant money can be saved and problems avoided with an access control job walk if you know what to look for and what to ask. By inviting...
ASCMA / Monitronics Declares Chapter 11 Bankruptcy on May 22, 2019
Monitronics is entering into Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The company, also called Ascent Capital Group Inc., aka ASCMA, aka Brinks Home Security,...
US Considers Sanctions Against Hikvision and Dahua on May 22, 2019
The US government is considering blacklisting "up to 5" PRC surveillance firms, including Hikvision and Dahua, Bloomberg reported, with human...
Dahua USA Celebrates 5 Years of Errors on May 21, 2019
Dahua USA is, in their own words, 'celebrating' 5 years in North America or as trade magazine SSN declared: Dahua Technology finds success in...
Axis ~$150 Outdoor Camera Tested on May 21, 2019
Axis has released the latest in their Companion camera line, the outdoor Companion Dome Mini LE, a 1080p integrated IR model aiming to compete with...
Covert Facial Recognition Using Axis and Amazon By NYTimes on May 20, 2019
What if you took a 33MP Axis camera covering one of the busiest parks in the US and ran Amazon Facial Recognition against it? That is what the...
Amazon Ring Public Subsidy Program Aims To Dominate Residential Security on May 20, 2019
Amazon dominates market after market. Quitely, but increasingly, they are doing so in residential security, through a combination of significant...
LifeSafety Power NetLink Vulnerabilities And Problematic Response on May 20, 2019
'Power supplies' are not devices that many think about when considering vulnerabilities but as more and more devices go 'online', the risks for...
Facial Recognition Systems Fail Simple Liveness Detection Test on May 17, 2019
Facial recognition is being widely promoted as a solution to physical access control but we were able to simply spoof 3 systems because they had no...
Inside Look Into Scam Market Research on May 17, 2019
Scam market research has exploded over the last few years becoming the most commonly cited 'statistics' for most industries, despite there clearly...

The world's leading video surveillance information source, IPVM provides the best reporting, testing and training for 10,000+ members globally. Dedicated to independent and objective information, we uniquely refuse any and all advertisements, sponsorship and consulting from manufacturers.

About | FAQ | Contact