Welcome to SECURITY SALES & INTEGRATION’s new series, “How to Grow RMR With Managed Access Control.” Brought to you by Honeywell Access Systems, this three-part series has been designed to educate security dealers and systems integrators all about managed access control (MAC) technology and how to leverage it to build recurring monthly revenue.
The first part of this series serves as an introduction to MAC and compares it to the more traditional site-managed access control model. We will also explore the rationale for why both customer and dealer would consider MAC and then review some of the many potential applications of a MAC solution.
Tracking the Access Evolution
With the introduction of distributed database systems in the 1980s, placing the system processing and database near the card readers allowed the system host to make a dial-up connection and manage small, remote segments of much larger systems. The benefits to the customer included reduced costs associated with leased data lines and the ability to centralize a host “head-end” that would serve many smaller systems.
Many owners of multi-site facilities took advantage of this functionality to centralize their access control system (ACS) management operations by replacing several head-end control locations with one centralized, host system. This saved money by reducing the redundant hardware and personnel needed to operate and maintain the ACS.
During the late 1980s, remote control software programs became available allowing the dealer to “take control” of the customer’s head-end administration PC, resolving problems and providing live support without having to actually visit the customer’s site. Many dealers have built profitable support services around this concept.
Both centralized access control and remote site management relied on relatively slow dial-up modem connections established over the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN). The IP revolution and Internet now provides a faster and cheaper method of global communications. Coupled with more powerful and robust access control system (ACS) software solutions, dealers can now help the customer reduce the total cost of ownership (TCO) of an ACS even further by eliminating the need for the customer to purchase and maintain the ACS head-end altogether through the use of MAC.
The Basic Managed Model
Managed access control is simply another application for what has become a major growth industry in the IT world: software as a service or SaaS. Today, many major corporations no longer actually purchase the software (or even the hardware) required to provide office automation functions to their employees’ desktops. Rather they simply lease “seats” or licenses for major applications from a third-party provider. Whenever a support issue or upgrade to the application is required, the third party simply and remotely updates the application.
MAC takes this outsourcing a step further by eliminating the need to maintain trained personnel to administer the ACS, purchase application software, operating systems and computer hardware. The dealer can manage multiple clients from a single location, computer server, operating system and software application while creating a profitable menu of RMR-generating services. Each customer also has the ability to access their own segment of the system via Web browser, allowing them to perform basic operator or management functions within their system.
Rationale Behind Services
RMR is the primary reason so many security dealers and integrators are successfully pursuing MAC over traditional site-managed access control. Basic monthly charges under a MAC program include managing the hardware and software platform, backing up customer data and transactions, and performing routine changes in the customer’s database such as adding, changing or deleting credential holder’s records.
This fee structure is usually determined by system size using a matrix based on the number of doors, credential holders and database changes to determine a basic monthly charge. Other options and additional recurring charges are based on turning all that transaction data a system usually generates into information the customer can use to better manage their facility. This is normally in the form of standard automated reports, custom “on-demand” reports and E-mail notifications of specific system or user events.
Do not assume that a single pricing structure will be suitable for every client. The security dealer needs to take the time to understand who their customer is and set up a pricing structure that matches their needs. While RMR is certainly the force driving implementation of a MAC product, there are several other key factors the dealer and customer should review when considering MAC over a traditional, site-managed solution.
For instance, even with a good preventative maintenance and support contract in place, is the dealer really covering the true cost of sending a technician to a dozen or more customer locations to perform software upgrades? Has the customer considered the true cost to maintain the ACS database themselves? Who covers the primary operator during periods of absence? How much does it cost to train that person’s replacement? How much is it costing the dealer to provide support to improperly trained ACS operators and administrators?
What about the true cost of purchasing, maintaining, and upgrading the computer servers and other hardware the ACS software must run on? Is the system being properly backed up and are backups being safely and securely stored? How often has a customer suffered a catastrophic hardware failure and only then discovered the backups were unusable? How much did it cost both the dealer and the customer to get the system running again?
Honest answers to these questions lead to an understanding of how MAC can reduce costs to the customer and, at the same time, make support more profitable by providing RMR to the dealer.
A MAC model creates a much stronger business relationship between dealer and customer since the dealer owns the ACS software application, system head-end hardware, and the customer’s system data. Close customer contact of this nature leads to greater customer retention. More frequent contact with the key individuals at the customer’s location allows the dealer to remain in touch with the customer’s changing requirements. All of this helps prevent competitive takeovers of accounts while increasing overall customer retention.
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