In today’s challenging market, System Integrators have to wear multiple hats more than ever in order to complete projects that meet and exceed their client’s expectations.  Many of the phases of a System Integration project tend to overlap and as the lines blur, productivity and profitability can depreciate.

How a Data Driven Process Can Help Streamline a System Integration Company

Jill Reddy | D-Tools

How a Data Driven Process Can Help Streamline a System Integration Company

Author: D-Tools White Paper, Jill Reddy

D-ToolsIn today’s challenging market, System Integrators have to wear multiple hats more than ever in order to complete projects that meet and exceed their client’s expectations.  Many of the phases of a System Integration project tend to overlap and as the lines blur, productivity and profitability can depreciate.

In this article, we’ll explore the potential pitfalls of three different areas of system integration that Integrators face and how implementing a solid data-driven software solution, such as D-Tools System Integrator 5.5 (SI5.5) can help overcome them.  Estimation, System Design and Project Management, all crucial to the system integration process, are often managed separately or not at all.  However, when these project phases are managed with a software application and dynamically linked together by product data, the benefits immediately become apparent.


3 Areas of Focus:

 

Estimation

Integrators can potentially find it difficult to locate essential products (and associated pricing and availability) for a given project which can lead to confusion and loss of potential revenue.
Estimation can also be extremely time-consuming when each proposal consists of the repetitive task of copy and pasting and frustration of locating previous proposals, trying to remember what was charged for each project phase, and maintaining overall consistency, which can lead to overlooked equipment and underestimated labor time.  Without proper project estimation, proposals can appear unprofessional and incomplete to the client, potentially resulting in a loss of business, which negatively impacts company revenue.


It can also be difficult to accurately determine profitability per project. Allocated time per project phase can be under-estimated and common project materials, such as wire connectors, faceplates or other lower-cost but necessary items, may be omitted from the estimate  and when tallied up, can potentially result in an overall lower bottom-line.


Implementing a software solution such as D-Tools SI5.5 can help integrators generate fast, accurate sales proposals and client documentation. A data-driven solution gives integrators a structured approach to estimating projects by capturing necessary product specifications in a database (i.e. model numbers, dimensions, product description, MSRP and dealer cost). Because all pricing and product data is driven from a regularly updated database, linking installation time for every product specified, integrators –can gain the confidence that what they are providing to their customers is accurate and increases the likelihood that the integrator can deliver the proposed system on time and to budget.  Since much of the product  information is available in the database, integrators can drastically reduce the time needed to research products for their proposals which gives them the ability to react to customer requests more quickly, ensuring the best chance to land the business.


“We noticed that our proposals took an enormous amount of time and nine times out of ten, they were way off.  D-Tools has improved our proposal generation tenfold.”

~ Joe Tooley, AudioPerfection Inc

Before D-Tools, I would be accounting for about 80% of the items in a proposal, now I can account for about 98% for all elements of the job. And the customer understands because they have visibility into all of the accessories and labor that’s required to complete the project. “My bids probably went up at least 15% since I started using D-Tools.”

~Justin Johnston, Twilght Sounds

*The average size of job AudioPerfection Inc. wins has increased by 20%, while profitability has increased by 25% per job.  Additionally, the amount of time it takes them to put a proposal together and submit to the client has decreased by 35%.       


System Design

Successful System Integration companies establish a series of project phases in order to complete projects satisfactory to the client’s expectations.  System Design is no exception. This project phase is extremely important to a system integration project because it’s the clearest way to communicate the parameters of the project to the end customer as well as in-house to team members. Concise designs provide a guide for the project installers and team members to follow, ensuring accuracy and efficient project execution.

While some Integrators contract their design work out which can be very costly, many other System Integration companies lack an in-house Engineering resource to create these designs so this phase is completely omitted, which could result in a loss of business. Including professional system designs in proposals will dramatically boost the overall aesthetics of the proposal and set Integrators apart from competitors. It also provides the client with a tangible representation of their finished system so they are able to visualize the end product. Having a solid System Design in place can easily be the differentiator that helps win the bid for a project.

 

 

Including accurate and detailed data within the initial estimate streamlines the entire design phase because the data is automatically carried over from the estimate phase to the design phase, saving the integrator a sizable amount of time. By utilizing D-Tools SI5.5 software, integrators can design systems utilizing Microsoft® Visio™ and AutoCAD®, the industry’s top standards for drawing tools. Because everything in SI5.5 is data-driven, users can quickly create proposals and drawings by simply dragging and dropping SI’s Smart Shapes™ – which represent detailed product information such as dimensions, inputs/outputs, etc. driven from D-Tools’ extensive manufacturers database – from a stencil onto a workspace to quickly and easily design floor plans, line diagrams, schematics and elevations, creating detailed and dimensionally  accurate system designs for both the end-customer and the installation team.

 


“D-Tools helps us with all aspects of the job from winning the bid to finishing the project. It gives our installers a great deal of information and without AutoCAD skills, they are able to easily create very professional proposals which is immensely important to win the job.  They can easily create schematics and elevation drawings as well, which is important to carry out the job until completion and decreasing our labor time.”

~Daniel Tumata, of T&T Communications

“D-Tools filled a huge gap. We were able to streamline our designs right into documentation.  With all of our equipment pre-loaded and quoted accurately, we were able to easily move into the design phase, and that helped us get the documentation out quicker to the client.”

~Stephen Michaux, DAVID Inc.


Project Management

Project Management is quite possibly the most important aspect of a System Integration project because it’s the framework that helps determine the overall success of a company. Due to inefficiency, it is often implemented improperly resulting in errors in labor and time tracking, which can negatively impact profitability and waste time that could be used to complete projects and gain additional business.  Utilizing SI5.5’s project scheduling, resource management and powerful reporting capabilities can help integrators deliver the job on-time and to budget.

SI5.5 facilitates more efficient project management by improving communication between not only the system integrator and the client but also with internal team members.  SI 5.5 makes it easy to assign tasks to internal installation and programming teams, schedule those tasks in a master project calendar, then communicate those tasks via email, task, or appointment via integration with Microsoft Outlook 2007. SI 5.5 can help create sales orders that can be used to track products that have been sold and ready to be installed, or they can be used to push project data information to other software applications such as QuickBooks, Tigerpaw, or CRM systems for accounting and inventory tracking.  Additionally, SI 5.5 can track labor tasks, installations, and resource scheduling by generating a project work order. Consistent use and tracking of work orders used in conjunction with SI5.5's new project scheduling and resource management tools will help you improve product-based labor estimates’ accuracy over time.

By utilizing the comprehensive project management capability that D-Tools SI5.5 offers, overall customer satisfaction is heightened. With SI5.5, product data is the link between the estimation, design and project management project phase and gives an Integrator a solid foundation to focus projects around.  Because these phases can be tracked, the inaccuracies will better equip integrators to make system adjustments to meet client’s needs and react to potential issues before they become major problems.



“The proposals are great because it allows us to show the customer what they are getting without confusing them.  We can cut the fluff for the customer, but the data is still there for us to run in the back office for internal needs,”

~Brian Gunderson, Audio Video Environments


“Customer service is the backbone of our industry and D-Tools has provided us with the essential tools to capitalize on that facet.  We provide our clients with the proper documentation, professionalism, work ethic and technology and as a result our customer satisfaction has increased by 7 gazillion percent”.

~Daniel Tumata, T&T Communications


“We won the bid over four other companies because our quote was the best. It was the easiest to read, most organized, incorporated a Visio overlay, and detailed equipment location.  Our small, simple, yet clear and concise solution – created with D-Tools, won the job.”

~ Rich Hoppe, AudioVideo Lifestyles



*Audio Video Lifestyles has decreased their time spent on jobs by 50-75% as well as increased profitability by 15-20% per job


Implementing D-Tools SI 5.5 will create a dynamic business process that promotes company organization by assisting with the initial estimation phase, a method to create clean and concise designs, and a firm basis for project management.  Accurate product data that is linked between project phases provides integrators with a synchronized process to track project elements including equipment, labor, and time-management. No other application allows integrators to bring together the entire business process enabling improved productivity, increased revenues, reduced time and costs, and increased overall profitability per project.

For more information, please visit www.d-tools.com. For a free Demo, email Sales@d-tools.com  and click here for a free 30 day trial of D-Tools Software.

D-Tools, Inc.

D-Tools, Inc.

System Integration Software For AV, IT & Security Industries

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