Pledge to Attain New Training Values
Commitment to employee training is a decision that should not be taken lightly. Devoting the time of sales staff and technicians, which otherwise would be spent pursuing new business or fulfilling a service contract, can put stress on available man-hours and take time away from billable client activities.
However, good business practices dictate that a well-trained staff is more efficient and more readily demonstrates expertise and value to the customer. Investing in training is an essential step in transforming your business from one that simply installs security systems to one that delivers service and support as a core competency — a key differentiator and an important consideration for end users in the security system selection process. Delivering superior service and support means fulfilling the role of consultant to the end user, and security integrators need to have the appropriate depth of system knowledge to be a true consultant.
Recognize the Network Imperative
At this point in time, when a heavy IT influence is pervading the market, an investment in training is of utmost importance. Security integrators are increasingly facing questions about bandwidth, Power over Ethernet (PoE) and centralized vs. network’s edge video recording — a far cry from end-user queries about analog systems.
To keep pace, integrators must have a percentage of their personnel trained on basic networking to help ensure technicians understand the fundamentals of working with routers, switches, local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs) and Internet protocol (IP) addresses.
In today’s market, a true consultant will:
- Help the end user decide whether an analog, IP or hybrid system is most appropriate
- Identify the system design that will deliver the best results with the lowest total cost of ownership (TCO)
- Be able to intelligently discuss the system and alleviate any concerns of the end user’s IT staff
- Understand the logical progression of troubleshooting IP devices in order to provide the support required throughout the life of the system These are not trivial tasks, and they require implementation by employees who have had top-quality training.
Suppliers Play a Role
While the integrator needs to make an investment in time and, in some cases, funds to support travel costs or fees for IT-focused networking courses like Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) A+ and Network+ certification, security industry manufacturers have a responsibility to make their product training as convenient and effective as possible.
Manufacturers should take advantage of technology advancements that have made it possible to make training available on demand. Through eLearning options, integrators can choose what type of learning environment is most appropriate for each level of employee. For some integrators, having this level of flexibility makes training sales staff and technicians easier and more cost-effective, as classes can usually be completed in sections whenever it is most convenient for the participant.
Classroom courses must be hands-on sessions with real-time access to devices. Professional trainers should be experts in the technology and be armed with system knowledge at the field level. They need to be able to inform students how the products may impact an end user’s network or how they integrate with other devices in the market.
In addition to training, a strong support infrastructure is essential. Beyond phone-based technical support, manufacturers must make knowledge databases available to technicians in the field, enabling them to download to their laptops information on various troubleshooting topics or to access this information on the Web using PDAs.
Remote diagnostics are also important to help a technician understand what equipment he or she may need at a site prior to arriving there. These tools are necessary to make service staff as efficient as possible at the customer location, thereby instilling confidence in the end user.
Manufacturers play an important part in helping the integrator build a service and support competency, as it is often the vendor that provides the tools. However, integrators must make the investment in order to build a group of consultants that deliver this core competency to the end user.
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