Closing Out Surveillance ProjectsBy Brian Rhodes, Published Apr 29, 2012, 08:00pm EDT
Closing out projects can be surprisingly difficult. For what seems to be simple process, gracefully concluding work and leaving a jobsite can prove challenging. Despite devoted efforts to bring work to an end, loose ends and lagging issues can stretch the end of a job for weeks. In this note, we address the process of successfully closing out installations.
The final phase of an installation project is often called 'Close Out'. Successfully managing this work phase will leave customers with a great impression and high degree of satisfaction with the install project. Observing the following steps will ensure that closeout is a positive experience for the integrator and customer alike:
- Closeout Conference
- Gross Error Checking
- Motion Detection Optimization
- Developing the Punchlist
- Conducting Enduser Training
- Obtaining Final Signatures
Closeout conference: The size and scope of the job dictate how formal this step is. For small jobs, it may be a quick phonecall to the owner letting them know that work is soon to wrap. For larger jobs, this may be a formal meeting with customers that outline the close out schedule and communicate dates and enduser involvement. This exchange should clearly identify the dates you intend to bring the system online and start recording, plan to hold enduser training, and the day you intend to leave the site. By having this conversation, no confusion or doubt remains with the customer of what comes next. When the integrator clearly defines these milestones to the customer, it goes a long way in avoiding the reputation of being 'shifty' or 'leaving in the dead of night'.
Gross Error Checking: Just like a proofreading process, make a point to step back and observe system operation as a whole. Confirm that all major elements of the system are operating and accomplishing their intended tasks. This step includes confirming the following operations:
- Cameras stream video properly: Check that CODEC selection and framerates match specifications (e.g., a camera was not incorrectly set up for JPEG rather than H.264, causing storage inefficiency)
- System devices remain online and are stable: Cameras and servers are not randomly 'dropping off' the network.
- Networked storage locations are available: Confirm video is written and recalled properly when stored remotely.
- Network Access is sufficient: Admin/security policies should be provisioned to avoid issues with VMSes.
- Incorrect network/device settings are not impeding operation : Common examples include switches not optimized to flow video traffic, cameras improperly time/date synchronised, or DHCP unexpectedly reassigning IP addresses.
Performing this check early in project closeout prevents nasty surprises at the last minute. When major errors are found, they still can be remedied before the turnover date.
Motion Detection Optimization: One of the core functions of surveillance is recording video when expected. As we discussed in our previous 'Optimizing Motion Detection' note, confirming that cameras are recording when expected is fundamental to system operation. Our experience has shown that this is a multi-stage process, where initial optimization is set and followed up on a few days later. The passage of time will reveal excessive recording in cameras where final tweaks need to be made. Final camera positioning and focus should be a part of this process,
Developing the Punchlist: This concept borrowed from the construction industry simply means to develop and address a 'to-do' list of loose ends. Example 'punchlist' items include:
- Touch-up painting
- Patching holes
- Labeling equipment
- Organizing and bundling cables
- Tidying up work areas
In general, the punchlist is composed of many small details that are easily forgotten on their own. Developing a punchlist with the customer present may be prudent, as it allows the customer to point out small details of significant importance to be addressed. This walk through provides the opportunity for the customer to critique work or express concerns well in advance of formally ending the project. Sucessfully working the punchlist is evidence of the intergrator's attention to detail and indicates a high level of installation quality.
End User Training: See our previous 'Effective End User Training' post for complete overview on this topic. This step allows the customer a chance to learn their system so that the system's value and utility are obvious. Properly managing this step establishes 'customer satisfaction' and allows the integrator to demonstrate value or explain functions that the customer may not otherwise understand. The tone is set for repeat business opportunities, and good integrators are keenly aware of this.
Obtaining Final Signatures: While self-explanatory, this step is much more than simply ritual or symbolic in service industries. When the customer signs the final approvals document, it indicates a level of acceptance and satisfaction with the job. This signature also may contractually begin the warranty period for the installed equipment. This provides one last opportunity for the customer to address any unresolved issues, and allows the integrator the opportunity to end the job on a high note.
At some point, if completeness or acceptance is disputed, the integrator can produce the signature as proof that they left only when the job was finished. Keeping records of these signatures can disarm accusations or clear up confusion should future questions be raised.
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