VMS Labor Standards

By Brian Rhodes, Published Dec 11, 2014, 12:00am EST

We continue our industry first installation labor standards result with a look at Video Management System setup, adding to the camera installation and cabling installation entries.

These standards help integrators improve the accuracy and efficiency of their installations, reducing risks and cost.

Global Survey

We developed these standards based on a global survey of integrators who provided in-depth responses on how much time and what factors impact their installs.

Questions / Scenarios Asked

Two scenarios were presented:

  • VMS Installation: "How many manhours would you estimate to install and configure a VMS Server? Why? Which VMS? What impacts this?"
  • VMS Commissioning: "How many manhours would you estimate to add 10 cameras to a new VMS? Assume cameras already are installed and have IP addresses preconfigured. The effort includes fine tuning 10 cameras for production recording and live viewing in the VMS."


The overall averages were:

  • VMS Installation: 3.1 manhours per server
  • VMS Commissioning (Adding 10 cameras): 4.9 manhours per 10 cameras, or ~ 30 minutes per camera

VMS Installation

The survey question asked: "How many manhours would you estimate to install and configure a VMS Server? Why? Which VMS? What impacts this?"

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Results: Over 55% of all responses fell between 4.0 to 5.0 manhours. The full spread is shown below:

Brand Specific

Many responses mentioned different VMS brands with varying values for each. However, there was no strong trend of one platform generall taking longer than others across the board. Rather, the range of times was more related to how familiar the installer was with a given platform, with less time needed for more familiar offerings.

  • "5 hours based on Genetec."
  • "2 for Genetec. There's a lot of up front configuration to make everything fall in line during the rest of installation."
  • "5 hours for Milestone, 4 hours for Exacq But we do alot more Exacq."
  • "Avigilon VMS server I'd say 4hrs billed but would only take 1hr unless need to do windows updates the program is very light and an easy install to config."
  • "ONSSI/Milestone/Exacq 4 hours for updating and setting up the OS and loading the server with software, documentation."
  • "4 - 8 hours depending on how familiar we are with it. Exacq or Salient."

From the range of responses, it is clear than many installers regularly sell a number of VMS options based on customer fit.

IT Environment Matters

The overall condition of the installation network and servers matters, how involved and permissive the customer's IT resources are, and how complex integrating the VMS server eith other systems prove to be:

  • "4-6 hours - depends on how agreeable IT dept is. If we have prearranged everything and it's going to be an easy job maybe 2-3 hours. Fighting with IT dept's can take up weeks or months."
  • "4 Hrs. This is provided OS is installed and all updates are complete. Time will vary subject to network cabinet configuration- has switch been installed, cameras addressed, and so on."
  • "This depends on too many factors to have a set answer. Is the VMS preloaded? What is the licensing process? Analytic behaviors? Inputs? Integration depth between the server and the cameras? How many cameras? Management server? Video wall? Scheduled backups? Active Directory? Odd recording schedules?
  • "The least we seem to have estimated is 1 hour for a preloaded server with no frills or features and 5 cameras attached to it. The most I've seen estimated here for one server is 16 hours for a server that had to be tied into Active Directory, cameras that didn't auto-discover, and these crazy recording schedules."
  • "8 manhours for a customer provided server. Factors that can impact this time can include internet connection speed, if done remotely, incorrect server configurations from OEM or customer, downloading the installer, and pre-requisites that have to be installed. This is most of what we do, so we have automation scripts written to handle a tremendous amount of the configuration. There are simple tricks that can be done to streamline installs. From out of the box to in the box we can have a server ready to go in 30 minutes or less."

VMS Comissioning

The next survey question asked: "How many manhours would you estimate to add 10 cameras to a new VMS? Assume cameras already are installed and have IP addresses preconfigured. The effort includes fine tuning 10 cameras for production recording and live viewing in the VMS."

Results: Of all 15 labor questions we asked, this one had the broadest range of answers. Half were between 2.0 to 4.0 manhours, with the average being 4.93 across all of them. The full spread is shown below:

Product Dependent

The major variable influencing time estimated is how familiar the installer is with the platform and how well the individual cameras are supported/integrated with the VMS. In this case, the fastest values suggested direct camera support rather than ONVIF support:

  • "Probably about 15 minutes per camera depending on customer requirements and the type of VMS."
  • "Max. 3 hours if it is for us known type of VMS with Axis cameras."
  • "We can do a 10 camera system in a max of 3 hours with Avigilon."
  • "30 min each based on Genetec and supported cameras.
  • "2 MH total for 10 cams. We could be checking for bitrate issues, or adjusting WDR settings. When using DW Spectrum, it will alert us if any cam isn't recording or functioning."
  • "Under most of the higher end VMS with wizards and generalized drivers or ONVIF I would include 5 minutes per camera for each camera to setup everything to ensue it is recording to the proper location, named appropriately, etc. Under some of the more cumbersome VMS I might double that."
  • "4-6 hours (if its a VMS we know and use) but it could be longer for no name Onvif cameras."

Ranges Very Common

However, not giving a single value estimate was common, with many integrators instead listing a range and an 'it depends' condition. This indicates the variability introduced by the demands or condition of individual systems and the equipment used:

  • "Depends on the user interface of the VMS really, some can be done in 5 minutes flat for all 10. Some others can take one hour."
  • "5 - 10 hours. Our standard is 1 hour per camera to add to a system. New systems that we install from scratch we can usually get by with 1/2 hour."
  • "2 hours ...in a perfect world."
  • "We aim for 3 hours, but plan on up to 8 hours."
  • "1-3hrs, bringing the cameras up and getting to record is quick, but the fine tuning of the motion and such will take longer, also if they have to be labelled and more."
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