|Merging objectives into a business relationship requires ongoing communication along with a shared vision and values|
A myriad of books has been written on business relationships. From establishing and maintaining business relationships to compensation issues and contract terminations, there’s a how-to book out there on most every aspect of business. While I have never published a business “how-to” book, I do have the benefit of experience in successfully navigating the dynamics of business relationships, and would like to share a few thoughts with you as they pertain to partnering with a VMS provider.
Successfully designing and building an integrated surveillance and security solution on a centralised control platform requires resellers to partner with a recognised and reliable VMS manufacturer. By the same token, VMS manufacturers are looking for reseller partners that will deliver maximised sales, good representation and reliable customer support.
Merging these objectives into a business relationship requires ongoing communication along with a shared vision and values. Achieving this objective, however, requires some due diligence on the part of both the VMS supplier and the reseller. The following are a few topics that need to be explored and understood.
Product evaluation and expectations
The process of selecting and then evaluating a VMS solution has become increasingly difficult as suppliers continue to add features that may initially appear to perform similar functions, but are drastically different on how they accomplish specific tasks. So, where does one begin the process? Start with the four basics:
1. Determine which VMS has the best core technology driving their platform.
The process of selecting and then
First and foremost, find out if the platform features open architecture. VMS solutions are increasingly being deployed as the primary platform for integrated security systems, connecting and collecting data from video, access control, time and attendance and other security and non-security systems. Open architecture is the foundation for integrated systems allowing event fusion, combining video data from other alarm generating systems to generate meaningful alerts that heighten security and deliver added value, including the ability to dramatically minimise false alarms, improve the value and effectiveness of an operator and improve compliance and other operational functions.
Open architecture also allows integrators to expand installed systems as their customers’ needs change moving forward. And beyond conventional security applications, heightened VMS integration provides added value such as the ability to improve the efficiency of marketing, merchandising, policy adherence and overall business operations.
Knowing that the VMS was developed from the ground up using organic technologies from the developer is important. It will help to ensure that your VMS solution will be scalable for forward growth, and backwardly compatible to accommodate your existing investment in products and software. It’s important to also determine if the VMS easily accommodates various recording systems on the same platform as you may be combining centralised, distributed and/or some combination of edge recording devices in your system layout. And last but not least, how easily can it be upgraded to ensure that users are running the latest versions?
|VMS solutions are increasingly being deployed as the primary platform for integrated security systems|
2. How secure is the VMS platform?
Cybersecurity threats are the new challenge for the physical security industry, and if your VMS is vulnerable, it not only increases liabilities for physical breaches, it may be the gateway hackers use to penetrate larger data networks. VMS solutions offering full encryption between clients and servers and support of HTTPS between cameras and servers ensure end-to-end encryption of all data. Additionally, the VMS should randomise the recorded video database so that recorded information cannot be manipulated by anyone, including IT personnel.
3. How easy is the VMS to install?
VMS solutions that can immediately recognise your existing and new IP cameras with all their features provide a tremendous advantage. It eliminates the need to wait for individual drivers to be written for new cameras you may be adding now and in the future. This saves time – which means you’ll also reduce total cost of ownership over the long run. The ability to automatically receive and deploy updates also provides a huge advantage by ensuring that the VMS is up to date and secure.
When using cost-efficiency
4. Does the VMS provide an overall cost-effective solution?
When using cost-efficiency as a primary purchasing influencer, the cheapest solution is by far not always the best. Start your cost-analysis by looking at the actual cost-per-camera and what licensing options are available to accommodate the number of cameras you need to deploy today and plan to add tomorrow. Also, investigate how many cameras can be accommodated per server, as this may be a huge hidden expense that will only continue to increase as you add cameras. The ability to accommodate less expensive SATA drives, off-site NAS recording, and local/edge recording devices will also affect overall system costs, as well as the ability to seamlessly integrate any or all of your recorders on the same platform. The ability to automatically update your VMS can also reduce maintenance and service costs.
With regard to licensing, VMS software must be registered and licensed. One important factor for consideration is whether a solution allows you, without additional fees, to mix and match licenses to maximise the system’s effectiveness and to add I/O devices without cost. Additionally, as organisation’s needs change, licenses need to be added quickly, easily and cost effectively. A good VMS partner will not charge you to add clients. Whether thick, thin or mobile, you should be able to add as many as needed at no charge. It is important to note that some VMS providers have very complicated Software Upgrade Plans (SUP) that tie post sale support, bug fixes and patches to it. Consider a VMS provider that offers a simple and low restriction SUP plan which will help your sell-through to more easily grow with existing customers and cultivate new ones.
These are future expectations that bear serious consideration when determining if a specific VMS solution fits the reseller’s business plan and plans for future growth.
|VMS solutions that can immediately recognise your existing and new IP cameras provide a tremendous advantage|
Sales channel structure
It is preferable for a VMS provider to have fewer, more qualified integrator partners than many mediocre resellers. This allows the VMS provider to assure that there is value added to the sale of their product, and the appropriate resources to support customers’ pre- and post-sale requirements. This is beneficial to both the partnering integrator and VMS provider.
VMS providers must carefully evaluate integration partners before they are authorised to sell a solution. This process should be thorough to ensure that authorised integrators meet the VMS provider’s criteria for technical capabilities, understand the product offering, add value to their brand, and understand the ongoing benefits of maintaining a mutually beneficial relationship with the VMS provider.
Sales and marketing support
A good VMS partner offers loyalty programmes at various levels and support capabilities. This ensures active integrators are given incentives to achieve greater profits by enhancing their ability to service customers. Ideally, a VMS partner should also offer a project registration program and product discount structure based on the value provided by the integrator.
Easy implementation and on-going technical support
Simply stated, the less time required to install a VMS, the greater the profits. VMS that does not require time-consuming and labour-intensive manual configuration reduces installation expenses and makes a system more cost-effective. Also beneficial are VMS solutions that don’t require MAC addressing, do not require cameras to be mapped to hard drives, and that include a fast and easy way to use camera locating tools. Shortening installation time is a big cost saver!
Integrators should look for a
Support is integral to a successful implementation and to help ensure this objective. Integrators should look for a VMS partner offering automatic software patch updates to ensure that end-users have the most up-to-date system with fewer potential problems. With automatic updates, integrators do not have to manually upgrade individual recording servers. Depending on how decentralised the VMS system is, the cost savings can be dramatic. As well, addressing software updates that arise during VMS implementation can be expensive and time-consuming.
Free technical support via phone, web and apps should not be contingent upon a purchase of a service agreement or tied to a SUP plan.
As with the installation, the less time spent maintaining a solution, the more profitable it becomes over the long-run. Often there is a minimum charge associated with on-site maintenance, so if a technician has to be physically be on the premises to address a problem, even the simplest fix can be expensive. Thankfully, advanced VMS solutions offer the ability for technicians to remotely access systems to diagnose or even fix an issue without the need to visit your site. Should the problem be significant enough to require a site visit, a technician can be dispatched to a location knowing exactly what is wrong and how to fix it before they arrive.
These recommendations, when followed, can be helpful to ensure long- term success with results that would otherwise be impossible to achieve. After a few decades in this industry, I practically wrote the book on this subject already.