A Strategic Advantage

Technology provides value to your customers

When asked about the biggest challenge facing security system dealers/integrators, an overwhelming response often cited is the struggle to keep up with training. Viewed in a negative light, training gets a bad rap. It is too expensive. It takes up valuable time. It is not effective. Scrapping all the negatives, though, realistically, there are many benefits associated with training. While new technology helps provide more value to customers and company growth, good, old-fashioned training is the key to making your security business the best it can be. Bottom line, training is the wisest investment you can make.

Who should receive training? In a word: everyone. Training is the process of enhancing skills, capabilities and knowledge. It is a prerequisite to order, consistency and the realistic expectations of the services you provide. In the security industry, it is imperative that business owners keep up with the daunting task of tracking the entire scope of training required for your company. Training helps achieve a higher quality workforce equipped to engage more customers in a shorter amount of time about the products and services your company provides, thanks to the knowledge they have obtained.

Yet, with shrinking and non-existent training budgets, how do you go about obtaining the training necessary for you, your staff and your customers without going broke? Thankfully, the options are endless. With free industry seminars and vendor-specific training, paid trade association certification classes, college courses and technical schools, you can choose from a variety of instructor-led offsite and onsite options, webinars, virtual instructors or a host of other e-learning methods.

Targeting Training Efforts

Following specific guidelines can ensure that the training you provide will be effective. The programs you select need to be focused as doing a job better is the result you want from any training. It must be relevant to your business activities, helpful and have substance. Training needs to be presented by experts in the security industry in an understandable manner and scheduled at convenient times for participants to get the most from their training sessions.

For positive training results, consider these guidelines:

  • Targeted and relevant to your business model.
  • Led by proven experts in the security industry.
  • Helpful and convenient.
  • Cost effective.
  • Efficient use of time.
  • Coherent and appropriate content.
  • Ease of updating to the next training level.

Start individuals at the correct level of their ability and be sure there is a migration path to the next stage of education. It is important to verify that everyone has access to the material being taught and then, hold people accountable for their individual progress. Constantly reevaluate training to determine if changes are needed in content, timing and training venue/method.

When done well, training delivers a return on investment in several ways. It helps run your business better because trained employees are more equipped to serve customers and handle equipment. Together in sales, marketing and technical areas, learning the intricate details of the typical services you provide and equipment you specify enables your team to properly market, sell, install, program and maintain accounts as well as introduce potential opportunities for additional revenue.

Whether it is product training, fundamental business operations and process- related training, technical skills training or end-user training, you can enhance the probability of getting a solid return on your training investment by including several diverse types of training delivery approaches. People learn in different ways and at different paces, so effective and efficient training programs should incorporate at least two learning methods: online training, webinars, relevant conferences, and external or in-house sessions.

Zeroing in on New Technology Training

One way to make training meaningful is to customize separate training programs for employees that are relevant to their jobs. If your security business is following the trend towards delivering integrated network solutions, for example, these new age security systems require knowledge beyond the traditional burglar and fire alarm domain. No longer the propriety systems of old, network technology in the physical security industry is moving to open architecture, IP, HD and wireless security solutions.

To maximize effective use, security professionals who are responsible for installing and integrating the various applications that are made possible by networked systems require a good overview and understanding of the types of equipment being installed, and how each one operates. They must determine how the technology works, what equipment is suitable in what situations and how the different equipment can be effectively integrated, in addition to the advantages and limitations of each device. After conducting security and/or risk surveys, integrators need to be able to specify the proper configurations and amount of security hardware the system solution requires.

Network electronic security systems incorporate information technology elements such as databases and computers. The systems require an information technology infrastructure such as local and wide area wired and wireless networks. Most of these elements have complex configuration and setup steps that must be performed by a knowledgeable person who understands the basics of networks and the infrastructure supporting security technology.

Today’s security system integrators need the knowledge to be able to evaluate the relative importance of security issues. They must identify effective approaches to analyze and assess security vulnerabilities, loss and risk. This requires an understanding of the steps necessary for constructing and implementing a comprehensive security plan from concept through delivery.

Once trained, these physical security dealer integrators become specialists who can perform a variety of security-related tasks including installation and technical support for video management software and hardware, backup and storage requirements, camera systems, electronic access systems, equipment maintenance, IT projects and other systems. The technological convergence of information processing technology is impacting every aspect of security, making possible video integrations with smoke and fire detection, facial recognition, and many other types of advanced, situation-based alarm event monitoring.

There are numerous suppliers and providers offering a host of different systems and technologies, so identifying the best among them can be a significant challenge. More than any other area in security, if you are considering or are involved in network electronic technology, the training and technical support provided is an important factor to determining which vendors’ equipment to go with. It is highly recommended that you select suppliers who are willing to provide all the necessary tools to understand their solution. The training itself is one aspect that is required for you and your staff. Accessible installation and end user manuals, online technical data, training videos, tech tips and other materials are also necessary.

A well-informed tech support team, willing to help you at a moment’s notice is another crucial determination as to why you would go with one vendor over another. Getting your business is one thing, keeping it is another. You want someone who will be there for you after the sale to assist in training and technical support.

Commit to Training

Training is vital to any company. It can cost you more money in the long run not to train. Training ensures a competitive edge in the market and is essential for your business success. Invest in training as much as you invest in technology. The knowledge and skills gained from training often lead to more innovation and more opportunities.

Training should be monitored and managed. It is an ongoing process. Most importantly, training should never stop.

This article originally appeared in the November 2014 issue of Security Today.

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