System Integration’s Troubling Game of Telephone

7 Minute Read

Whether or not the troubling game of telephone is familiar, the story behind it applies to all system integrators in today’s business. It is so easy for crucial information to get caught up in the fray of life and ultimately lost, or miscommunicated at the end of its journey. To illustrate this, let’s take a walk through a typical site walk.

Andrew walks a site with a customer at 9am, jotting down their desires on a paper floor plan and simultaneously taking pictures of each location. He later arrives at the office at 4pm and sits down to organize all of the information from the site walk to hand it off to an estimator to create a proposal. However, he realizes that he has no labels for the photos and doesn’t know what they pertain too. To make matters worse, he can barely read his own chicken scratch scattered all over the paper floor plan. He does his best to organize his notes and gives all of the information to the estimator. What the estimator receives is not what the customer asked for, just like the game of telephone – the initial message loses quality as it moves down the line. This causes a domino effect of problems for people all through the service delivery.

As illustrated in this story, pictures taken on a cell phone during a site walk frequently get placed under the wrong system element on the paper floor plan later at the office, or notes end up being illegible. Similarly, what the customer said they want on site is now sitting in a file in the wrong place. When it comes back to the customer in the finished installment, it is not at all what they intended or wanted it to be. When the customer’s requirements are not captured effectively by the sales team and this information is miscommunicated to operations, massive implications arise for both the integrator and the customer. Many security companies have a sales team of more than 10 people, so when every single one of them is gathering information this way (and inconsistently), the ramifications multiply and the game of telephone becomes detrimental to the reputation of the company.

While it is funny in the game when the phrase “A monkey’s uncle” has become “A skunk sees purple”, it’s not so much of a knee slapper when the wrong mission-critical surveillance camera gets installed.

How can this problem of miscommunication be eliminated? As is often the case today, the answer lies with the smart use of technology. In fact, a digital floorplan with all elements, note taking areas, and photo capabilities in one tool would almost completely eliminate this troubling game of telephone.

Security and other forms of system design can be a high stakes industry. It is important to make sure the game of telephone is eliminated from the life of sales, operations, and integration. Once these miscommunications subside, daily processes for system integrators will become more streamlined and companies will be able deliver on the needs of stakeholders without a monkey becoming a skunk during a game of telephone.


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