The surveillance industry has been growing rapidly in recent years (with the global video surveillance market alone expected to grow to USD 74.6 billion by 2025) due to the broader adoption of surveillance and security equipment across industries including retail, hospitality, airports, and residential sectors. The COVID-19 pandemic has further fueled this growth with the innovative usages of thermal cameras and infrared scanners in a wide variety of industries, including manufacturing plants, retail outlets, and hotels.
Traditionally, this industry was fragmented, with the companies performing straightforward jobs of installing a couple of equipment at a site, but now the customer expectations are changing. The projects are more involved ranging from the integration of devices to complex IIOT scenarios.
In the past, these companies could easily manage their businesses on paper or spreadsheets but are now having a hard time dealing with the complexity, which is why they need an ERP sooner than later to help them manage their exponential growth. Through this article, the surveillance companies will learn what they need to know about their ERP options and how to find one that will help them manage their operations while offering phenomenal customer experience in the changing business conditions.
What are the use cases that are fueling this growth?
- Thermal cameras need to be installed across multiple facilities to prevent COVID-19 spread. Sometimes agencies such as Health Canada may require these devices to be approved, which creates further operational complexity due to compliance. Customers are also interested in the real-time status of not only during the installation phase but also of failures to ensure preventive maintenance.
- The introduction of new IP-based digital technologies is enabling new use cases of detecting and preventing undesirable behaviors, such as shoplifting, thefts, vandalism, and terror attacks.
- Tracking of consumer behaviors by scanning their faces at a retail store such as what a demographic may prefer to eat or shop
What changes can I expect as they relate to my needs for an ERP system?
Traditionally you may have been able to manage these processes through a simple job shop ERP solution where you could book an order for a simple job and invoice based on the number of hours worked.
With the changing operational complexity, you now need a hybrid solution that could handle a wide variety of projects and jobs. The system must support simple requests such as service orders with few instructions similar to the ones you managed in your legacy system.
For the complex service orders where multiple sites might be in scope, your system must also support complex projects where resources such as technicians, tools, and devices can be managed from one place.
Would the ERP system support sales and customer-facing processes as well?
You will need a system that allows you to enter details of the service request in the form of an order and prepare a quote. If customer requests, the system must support multiple revisions to the quote with the ability to go back to the previous versions. The system must be able to provide various quote options to compare, with the ability to share with the customer directly from the system.
Once the quote is accepted and the order entered in the system, the operations team should be able to convert it into a job or a project without having to re-enter the details that were previously entered by sales teams.
The centralized view of the customer must be accessible across the sites and projects. Your customers should be able to track the progress of the project over time, preferably on their mobile devices.
How about operational and field processes?
When your operations or project managers log in to the system to view the details of the project converted in the previous step, they must be able to see the availability of resources and schedule for both internal employees or subcontractors in one view for the entire project.
Your system must support the creation of daily and weekly schedules automatically or with minimal effort to print these schedules. The solution must be able to optimize the routes for appointments, with the ability to visualize on Google Maps for each technician with the lists of required devices or tools.
Once a technician is dispatched to service a job or a site, the routes must be displayed on the technicians’ mobile devices with the ability to log and track time. In case of inventory or device shortages, the technicians must be alerted once the inventory arrives at their location to complete the job. The field technicians must also be able to collaborate with the office team by sharing the pictures of completed jobs through their mobile devices.
How about financials?
The system must allow tracking of projects with the forecasted as well as revised budget in real-time.
Your customers may also have complex payment needs. Your customer could be charged based on the components installed, time &material required, or the hybrid approach where a downpayment may be required at the beginning followed by milestone-based payments, for example, the customer might want to pay as each site is completed. The customers should be able to opt either for transaction-based on recurring billing.
Your system must also support sub-contractors and track the time-reporting and expenses paid to them.
How about contracts and warranties?
The solution must be able to track recurring service contracts and warranties. It must track renewal dates for contracts and alert the customer service team to ensure timely renewals. The system must support different warranties for various components of the system.
With the changing customer expectations and business conditions, surveillance and security suppliers and system integrators can no longer manage their business processes in their legacy smaller ERP systems.
They need a comprehensive ERP system that can not only handle simple jobs but allows end-to-end traceability and control for complex service requests. Their system must also be able to accommodate spikes in demands and future changes in the business model once the market slightly matures.
Now that you know what you need in an ERP system, make sure you spend some time thinking through these needs and allocating some time for a thorough review of different options that may be relevant for your industry.