Long-term business relationships can be a win-win proposition for system integrators and customers alike. In this article, Jason Oakley, CEO of North American Video (NAV), explains that compared to simply transactional relationships that are typically short-term projects, long-term relationships generally provide better working relationships, increased satisfaction, reduced costs, added value, and numerous other intangibles that benefit all involved parties. It’s a smart way to do business that typically delivers long-term benefits.
|Project productivity improves when systems integrator and client personalities “integrate”
Better working relationships
One doesn’t need an MBA to know that people who get along well also perform better as a collective group. It’s important that system integrators not only know their clients’ business needs, but that they also know their clients. When integrator and client personalities “integrate,” project throughput generally improves, and what may have been termed a “problem” becomes a “challenge.” This generally indicates there’s a good mix of personnel working together whose goals and objectives are in alignment.
Establishing long-term relationships (preferably through execution of a long term contract) enables integrators to better understand their customers’ complete needs, which allows integrators to ultimately provide better solutions. In-depth knowledge of a client’s specific needs and objectives can also help integrators identify troubleshooting policies that ensure consistent system operation for each client’s mission critical operations. This not only bolsters confidence in the integrator’s commitment and capabilities, it may also lead to faster diagnoses and resolution of problems. Most importantly, it allows integrators to provide clients with a high level of service based on proactive behaviour, which clearly results in a higher level of customer satisfaction.
Maximised cost efficiencies with managed services
Establishing long-term relationships enables integrators to better understand their customers’ complete needs, which allows integrators to ultimately provide better solutions
Long-term contracts can reduce costs associated with transitioning multiple project- based system integrators. Long-term contracts also allow integrators to provide optimum pricing based on a body of work rather than a specific project. In addition to providing a recurring revenue stream for integrators, this helps customers to best allocate available budgets and plan for future system enhancements.
Another advantage is that customers can better manage system upgrades and maintenance to help avert system downtime by employing on-going managed services from an established system integrator. Unlike traditional maintenance or service agreements, managed services for physical security systems can be more flexible to address customers’ changing needs and specifically tailored to a customer’s requirements. Continual support and additional or new services on demand are available at fractional in-house costs. Managed services from system integrators allow customers to best manage budgets and expenses, reduce risks and liabilities, and best maintain overall control.
Beyond the design and implementation of a system, integrators can offer expert guidance on decisions about repair or replacement, assist security and IT staff with budgeting, provide predictable costs for support and maintenance through a single contract, and work toward the lowest total cost of ownership (TCO) and best return on investment (ROI).
|Integrators working with customers consistently form a mutual commitment to ensure excellence
Technologies also continue to evolve quickly and a good integrator will stay on top of new developments so long-term customers don’t have to. The experienced system integrator can better determine the benefits of newer technologies and can recommend security solutions that best meet the financial and technical needs of the organisation. Integrators can help direct the customer's efforts to implement new technologies over time because of their experience and knowledge.
Efficient systems are also built on the technical expertise, experience, reliability and efficiency of the system integrator. Long-term relationships can enable integrators to afford greater levels of investment in resources and personnel with expertise above and beyond existing capabilities. This expertise can then be directed to augment a customer’s technical resources and free up in-house personnel to focus on primary business functions.
For example, in an enterprise environment with remote branch locations, the services of a system integrator can be deployed to ensure consistency across the entire network. This level of service and support from a single integrator ensures that predefined levels of performance and expense are maintained to keep customers’ systems running and on budget. Customers who are open to new ideas and technologies and who trust their integrator partners can also help generate better overall value for their investment.
Both systems integrators and customers have much to gain when it comes to establishing long-term relationships. Most importantly, long-term relationships can make a significant contribution in ensuring the safety and security of the organisation’s people and assets.