Top Problems For Integrator Project Management

By: Brian Rhodes, Published on Feb 13, 2018

Security projects routinely encounter issues that jeopardize deadlines, create confusion, and shrink profits. Unfortunately, there are common culprits that routinely affect integrators during projects, and recognizing them early can help avoiding problems before they become major pitfalls.

This continues IPVM's series on project management, adding to Project Management Software UsedIntegrator Managing Projects StatisticsSecurity Integrator Project Management Certifications, and Project Plans for Security Integrators.

150+ integrators told IPVM what their top project management problems are. Among their answers, they cited the 7 biggest problems they face.

7 Most Common Problems

While individual responses cited a wide variety of incidental problems, most grouped into several key themes. Of those, 'lack of trained workers' and 'unexpected work changes' accounted for nearly half the responses:

The full spread of answers, in descending order, are listed below.

  • Lack Of Trained Workers
  • Unexpected Work Changes
  • Project Team Communication
  • Contingent Work Not Finished On Time
  • Project Material & Equipment Ordering
  • Adapting Plan To Changes
  • Cost Tracking & Reducing Overruns

Following sections detail each theme with color comments.

Lack ** ******* *******

*** **** ***** ****** mentions * ******* **** is *** ******* ** specific ******* ** ********** size, ** **** ******** related ** ******* ****.  Rather, **** *********** ****** that ******* ******* ***** is *** ******* ***** they **** **** **** executing ******* ****:

  • "****** ********. ***** *** the ******** ** *********** technicians ** * **** issue. ** ***** ** so **** **** **** the ***** ***********. ******* we **** ** ** bringing *** **** ** from *** ******. ** I ***** **** ** more *********** **** **** experienced ** *****, ******, and ******** ** ***** do **."
  • "******* ******* ** **** of **** *****"
  • "*** *** ********* ***********. It ** ** ******** epidemic."
  • "****** ** *** **** installers."
  • "** ****** ****** **** laborers ** **** *** labor ***** ** ******."
  • "****** *** ********** **** the ***** ****** ********* to ** *** ******* he/she ** **** ********* for."
  • "******* ********* *******."
  • "*** ************* ** *** security *********** ******** ** network *********** ** ************."
  • "*****. ********** ** *****."

******* ******* ************ **** problem ** *** **** has ******* *** **** time, *** *** **** have *** ***** * sure ****** ** **********.

Unexpected **** *******

***** ******** ********** ****** or *********** ************* **** changes,integratorsgrator ******* ***** *** difficult ********** ******** ***** schedules *** ********* ****** enough ** ******** ***** disruptions: 

  • "************ ****** ** ********* between ***** ******** *** project *********, **** ** manage ** ******* *****."
  • "****** ***** **** **** during *** ******* ***** a **** ** ******* to *** ****** *** they ******* ***** **** about ********* ** ****** something *** ***** ***-***** process."
  • "**** ****** ******** **** come ** ***** **** begins ** **** *** making **** ******** ** happy."
  • "******* ********* ** ****** orders. **'* **** ** paperwork **** ******** ******** in *** ******* ** do ***** ****."
  • "********* *** ******* ***** shift ** *** **** we ******** ***** **** and ******* ******** ** the **** **** ** tough."
  • "******* **** **** ******* cannot ** ******* ***."
  • "**** ******** *** ** improper ********** ** ***** people **** ****-******* *******. Discomfort **** ****** *** a ****** *****."

***** ********** ******* ***** challenge ***** ******* ** Project **********; ************ *************, resource ********, *** **** management. ******* ***** ******* being ************ *********, **** find ****** **** ***** with *** ************ *** actual **** ****** ** complete * *******, **** for **** ** ***-** as * ************ ** surprising *****.

Project **** *************

***** *** ******** ****** of ***** *** ***** applicability ** *******, ****** getting *** *********** ** the ***** ****** ** the ***** **** ** a ******** ******* ****** many ***********:

  • "**** ** ********, **** or ***, ******* *** PM *** ***** *********, vice *****. ******, **** frank ************* ** * timely ****** *** ********* difficulties ****** **** ****** a ****** *****."
  • "*********** ***** ****** **/**** tech ** ***** ******. Simple *************."
  • "******** ********** ****** *** to *********** **** ** communication ** **************** **** is * *** ***** of **** *** ** throws ***** ******** *** as **** **** *** contractor ***** * ******** and ** ******* *** there ** ** ******** or ****** **** ********* up ** ******** **** technicians **** ** *** can't ** *** ** can **** ** * little **** ** *** project ** ** **** straining ** ** ******* tight ********"
  • "********* *** *** ******* info **** *** ****."
  • " ****** *** ** effective ************* **** *** main ***********."
  • "************ ***** *** ********* disciplines ****** *** *** company. ** ***** ** if *** ***** ******* just ** *** **** to *** **** *** listen ** **** ***** and **** ********"
  • "* **** ** ****** up **** ********* ** let **** **** ***** the ******* ****** *** sometimes **'** *** ****** able ** ** **."
  • "*** ******* ******* ******** projects ***** ** ************* with *** ********."

******* ******** ********* **** communication ********** ** *** strictly ********, *** ********* the ******** ** ******** gathering **** **** ******** sources ** **** * problem. 

Contingent **** *** ******** ** ****

*** ** *** ******** criticisms ** *********** *** the ******** **** **** when ***-********* **** ** not **** ******** ** on **** ** ***** own **** *** ** done:

  • "********* ****** ** ******* caused ** ******* *** other ***********..... *** **** install * ****** ** a ******* ** *** ceiling ***'* *****!"
  • "**** **** ****** **** been ******** ****** *** part ***** ** ******* and **** **** ***** problems."
  • "*** ******* ******** ***** when ******* ** *** customer ** ******* ***** to ******** ********* *** the ******* **** * would **** ** ** complete ** ****. ** electrics ** *** ******* or ***** ***, * often **** **** **** don't ** ** ** discussed"
  • "*** **** *********** ***** we *** **** ** when *** ************ ******* isn't ***** ** ** supposed ** **. **** becomes * ********* ** our **********, ********, ***."
  • "*** ***** *** *** prepped *** **** ******** or ***** & *** network ***'* ***** **** we ***"
  • "**** ** ********** ** contractors ** ********* ** plan, ***** ********* ** prep *** *** ****, primarily ********** ****, **** hardware, *** ******** ** do **** ******* ************."

********** *** *** ************ projects, ****** **** ** begin ** ***** ***** are ******** ** ******** for *********** *** ********.  If ***** ****** ** subcontractors *** ****, ******** installers *** ****** ***** to **** *** **** crunch.

Project ******** & ********* ********

************, * ****** ***** impacting ******* ********** *********** was ****** ******* *** right ********* *** ***** ordered ** *** ***** time, ** **** **** are ********* **** ******:

  • "******* ** ** ******** efficient ******** *** ******* of *** ******** ***** for **** ***."
  • "*** ***** *** ***********, material *********** *** *******. System *********** *** ** take *** ****** ***** for * *** **** it ** **** *** turn ** **** ******** drawings *** * ***** BOM. **** **** ** reviewed *** ****** ***. Then ** ** ** the ***********, ******** *********** and *******. ** *** last *** *****, ***** has **** **** *** less ******* ** ************ or **** ** *** shelf **** ****. ** can ********* **** ***** to **** ******* ******** enough *** * ******* to ** *********. ******* material ** *** ********* sitting, ** * **** nightmare."
  • "******** *********, **** ****** just ***** **** ** in ***** ** ****"
  • "** **** **** *** best *** ** ** profitable, ** ** ********** plan *** ****** ******* by ******* ********** ** installation ******** *** ************ delivery ** *********. ** we *** "*** ** and *** *** *******" If ***** *** ********* delays **** ****** *** the ******* "******" **** profitability **********."
  • "**** **** ***** ** ordering ********* ** ******* worse *** ***** ********** especially ***********."

******* ******** ******* *** unwelcome ****** ** ******** cashflow **** ******* ********* sits ** *** *****, but *** ****** ** ready ** ******* **** needed ** **** * huge *******.  ********* *** trim ******** *** ************ is * *** **** of ********* *******.

Adapting **** ** *******

******* **** ***** ** modifying *** ******* **** during *** ****** ** work ** **** ** functionally ******.  ****** ** work ******, ********* ********** are ****, ** ******* ******** ********** *** ****** ****, causing *** *********** **** to **** ******** *****:

  • "** ****** ********** ******, unscheduled ***** **** **** attention ***** ** ***** tasks ***** ****. ***** and ***** ****** ********* my ********* ****."
  • "***** ** **** *** a **** ****** ** effort **** ** ********, and **** *** ******** agrees ** ** ** will *** *** **** effort **** *** ****. "
  • "******* **** **** ******* cannot ** ******* ***."
  • "** **** ***'* **** anyone *** ** **** disciplined *** **** ** lose ***** ** ***** the ******* ** *** how ** ******** *********."
  • "******** *** ********, **** Busy."
  • "****** ******* *** ******* or ** *** ***. We ** *** ***** hit ******* **** ****** orders *** ** ** always *******/****** **** *********."
  • "****** *** ** ************* non-technical ********, *.*.****'* **********/************, crimes, ************* ******* *** outdoor *************."

Cost ******** & ******** ********

*******, ******* **** ** all ******** *** *********** them ******* *** ****** is * *** ******* for ****:

  • "*** *********** ** ****, as **** ** *** cost ** *** *******, often **** ****** *** budget ** ** *** lose, *** ** *** win **** ** ******."
  • "****** ** ***** ******. If *** **** ** travel ***, ****** ************ delays *** *** ***** trips ** *** ****. Sometimes *** **** *** ability ** ****** **** cost ****, *** **** of *** **** *** do ***."
  • "*********** ** ***** *** prices *** *******. ** must ** **** **** less."
  • "****** *** ***** ******* to ***** **** *** time ****** ** ******* a ******** *******."
  • "***** ********** **** ****** the ********* *****."
  • "** **** ******** ******** the ***** ****** *** early ****** ******* *** to ************* ** ***** and ****** ******** ******."

***** **** **** ****** are *** *********, *** of *** ******* ***** of *** ******* ******* is ** **** ***** from ********* *** ** control *** ********* ******* the ******* ** ******.

 

Comments (8)

So basically, in the end it all boils down to "good help is hard to find".

I'm surprised that "The Job Was Sold Wrong" is not on the list. When I was Operations Manager for a systems integrator (back in the Stone Ages), my PMs and techs were constantly complaining about the salesperson who sold the job.

They always complained that the sales guy promised that devices would be installed where it was impossible to get cable, sold the wrong products for the application, and estimated far too few hours for the installation - causing them to be over-budget on hours before the job even started.

Michael, good comment. I've queued up a new survey for 'overselling' to do see how often it is or is not a problem across integrators.

Oh you are so correct as this "sales rep sold it wrong" still happens today. There is a conveyor belt of broken BOMS not built off of a true margin, insufficient labor and obviously incorrect parts. Ever catch those sales reps that think they are really good in excel and try to modify formulas here and there? I have caught a handful of new and experienced sales reps cooking excel to the point it looks like the entire estimate is a bowl of skittles and cheap solar powered calculators.

Michael - If you hadn't added that point, I certainly would have.  We have a number of sales reps from varying backgrounds, but the ones that create the best and most precise contracts (translation: profitable) are the ones with technical backgrounds and many years of field experience.   You have to see the solution as if you were building and configuring it yourself.  Some sales guys/gals think all you need is a server, some storage, and a pile of cameras.  I try to see it from the ground up & out as if I were putting it together. Small but important things like cable management, patch panels, floor and wall space, and availability of power seem to get neglected.  And when dealing with union trades, there's just never enough contingency hours built in to cover your costs on site while waiting for a loading dock or freight elevator guy to come back from break.

The lack of trained workers and project management/parts acquisition are huge areas for us.  As the end user managing the integrator/maintenance contract, we repeatedly experience the same issues.  I have a weekly meeting where I've started by going over parts orders.  It is micromanaging that I should not have to do but it is the only way to keep everyone on track.  I'm using this survey and its findings to let them know that it's not just us. 

I'd love to disclose my name but that's probably not fair.

How much margin do you apply for risk analysis contingency cost?

Bobby, we have not asked that question yet in a survey. However, I've added it to the list for future surveys. 

Related, to be clear, I think you are essentially asking about padding - how much extra margin / money does the average integrator add to account for unknown risks? is that right?

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