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5 common mistakes systems integrators make that hurt projects

5 common mistakes systems integrators make that hurt projects
The quick evolution of technology and expanding businesses have increased the chances of integrators making some mistakes that could hurt projects and customer satisfaction
Physical security integration is becoming more and more complex as connected devices become popular and IP-based solutions replace analog systems. Many large integrators are also reaching out to new markets, either through mergers, acquisitions, or just by expanding their existing businesses.
 
All this has increased the chances of integrators making some mistakes that could hurt projects and customer satisfaction. This article explores the five common mistakes that physical security systems integrators make.
  1. No clear understanding of the safety rules

Different countries have different safety rules, and understanding them is integral to ensuring that the work remains smooth. Not understanding these rules will also derail your cost estimates.
 
"For instance, if you're working with a Japanese company, they have very stringent safety rules," explains Verghese Thirumala, CEO of the Malaysia-based systems integrator Maxitulin. "I'll give you an example - typically, when using a ladder, there'll be one person climbing up with the harness and all the standard equipment. In Japanese companies, one person goes up with the harness and other equipment. Another holds the ladder. One more person remains on standby. So, you will need three people. If you don't account for all these costs in the beginning, things will get out of hand."
  1. Not preparing for site challenges 

Challenges specific to the site can make a major difference to the successful implementation of a project. For example, many places worldwide have issues like lightning that can hurt electrical installations. Not all systems integrators may be aware of this, especially when they are unfamiliar with the place.
 
"Some buildings may also have power issues, while others like telcos may have very strong IT cyber policies," Thirumala said. "Knowing these specifics even before the project is essential to avoid difficulties when it comes to integration."
  1. Underestimating quantity of material required

If you don't know the site well, you will not be able to estimate how much material you need, and this can lead to some really difficult situations. Many integrators tend to make this mistake for various reasons and end up increasing the costs from the initial estimate and some try to cut corners, ending in a bad situation and souring relationships with the customer.
 
"For instance, halfway into the project, you may suddenly realize that there is this beam in the center that you cannot drill through," Thirumala said. "You need to run around the beam. At that point, you cannot say I didn't know there was a beam there! What we do at our organization is that when we do a project, we don't change our installation team in a particular building because they usually know the building inside out. If we bring in a new team, they will have to learn from the beginning."

Also read: the critical role of a systems integrator in making cities safer
  1. Not addressing communication gaps, especially across cultures 

As we already mentioned, many large systems integrators are expanding their footprint, forcing people in different countries and cultures to work together. COVID-19 has made this even more complicated, with employees having to communicate online.
 
"We have had a project where people of four countries, Australia, Malaysia, Indonesia, and India, had to work together," Thirumala said. "In fact, some of our engineers are stuck in two continents across time zones. The terminology used by different countries is very different."
 
"Here's a classic example. We recently had to deal with the different meanings of the word 'zone' in different countries. We usually call a specific part of a building, say front door, 'zone 1', and the side windows may be 'zone 2'. But in India, the front door is considered 'input 1', and the zone is the whole building. So making sure that the communication is clear between all the stakeholders involved is essential."
  1. Inability to advise clients on the latest technologies 

Security technology is continuously evolving, and there are several new solutions out there that can meet customer needs. But the customer is often not aware of this, and it is up to the systems integrator to help them understand.
 
"But the problem is that you need to have a narrative, else the client will think that you are trying to sell something to them," Thirumala added. "I think this is something that most of the system integrators are not able to do well. You can tell the client that what they have in mind is doable, but there are better options now, and such an approach may help."
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