The Ultimate Guide to Budget Estimation with a System Design Platform

7 Minute Read

Budget estimation is a crucial component of any physical security project proposal. Maximizing the likelihood of a successful contract or greenlit project depends heavily on creating realistic expectations with decision-makers and clients, and budget expectations are always top of mind for the people you’re working to convince.

This is true whether you’re a system integrator looking for a better way to communicate with end clients about their physical security needs or you’re a campus or corporate physical security leader who needs to show solid numbers and security designs to facility stakeholders and decision-makers.

The earlier in the process you can produce a realistic budget estimation, the better the outlook becomes for the project as a whole.

Using a system design platform that includes automated budget estimation functionality is the ideal solution to your project planning and budget estimation needs. Such a platform will produce a wealth of benefits for you and your clients, and we’ll get to those benefits in a minute.

First, let’s look at what’s wrong with the status quo.

Budget Estimation Without a System Design Platform

Without the right tools for budget estimation, system integrators can still do the work. It’s just much more manual and much less efficient, relying on calculations based on paper schematics cobbled together with cellphone photos and the technician’s best recollection from the site survey.

System integrators have a challenging time creating accurate budget estimates, and those estimates are often difficult for clients to read and understand. They lack the visual component you might get out of site survey utility software that doesn’t also include budget estimation tools.

5 Advantages of Using System Surveyor for Budget Estimation

Budget Estimator

Using the right system design platform and tool gives you unparalleled efficiency and accuracy in budget estimation. While some organizations have tried field service technician software or other construction and building management platforms, they are not built for the purpose of system design with budget estimation like you’ll find with System Surveyor.

How can System Surveyor improve your budget estimation process and help you reach your other goals? We’ve identified five ways. While there’s a bit of overlap on this topic, the first four advantages below are primarily for system integrators, while the last illustrates a unique benefit for corporate or campus physical security leaders.

1. System Integrators Can Visually Build Out Security Systems with Clients and Prospects

By far the most visually striking advantage of the System Surveyor platform is the way that users can visually build out security systems on the tool using a PDF of a floorplan, a picture of a fire escape plan, or the integrated Google Earth feature. Unlike most engineering design applications, this is a customer-facing application that allows you to engage the customer in a completely new experience that they get to be involved in.

System Surveyor is designed as a collaborative platform, one where you and your client or prospect can look together at a floorplan and work out where various physical security assets need to go.

Where before you were stuck trying to verbally describe what a particular camera could or couldn’t do or try to help your client visualize using drawings or cellphone photos, now you can work together to visually place resources over a floorplan — including camera angles, field of view indicators, wiring and more. All of this without an engineering or CAD degree.

It’s hard to overstate the efficiency gains of this system — and the difference that an interactive visual platform can have on the sales process. By streamlining this site survey and engaging the customer earlier in the journey, the efficiency gains have been 35% or more. In other words, for every hour on a site survey, they are saving another 2 hours back at the office.

2. Budget Estimator Adjusts in Real Time for Smart Tradeoffs

System Surveyor isn’t just a budget estimator, but the inclusion of budget estimation functionality greatly increases the usefulness of the tool. Anyone using the tool can import specific vendor databases to pull in device types and pricing data. System integrators can then customize device prices and labor costs to fit the needs of their business.

Once properly configured for an integrator, System Surveyor will automatically create a budget estimation and update that estimation throughout the design process. As sales reps and clients edit and design from the tablet app (or via laptop on the web), the budget estimator updates in real time.

This is a perfect way to work with a client or prospect with a firm budget, too. Say you’re working with a customer who has a set budget but also has strong preferences about a specific high-end camera. Implementing those cameras everywhere will blow past the budget limit.

With System Surveyor, you gain the ability to play with the project details, make tradeoffs and see the budget estimation update in real time. You can work with your client to find the right mix of performance and quality that stays within the given budget — or help them see that their budget needs to increase to match their performance expectations.

3. Better Qualify Clients, Leading to Higher Close Rates

Sales professionals know that not every prospective client is going to develop into an actual client. It’s just part of the process.

Still, time spent on a prospect that doesn’t pan out is time you’re not spending on paying clients. That’s why the sales qualification process matters. The earlier in the sales process that system integrators can qualify prospects, the better.

A dynamic digital platform like System Surveyor plays a role here, as well. Our platform allows you to quickly visualize a system implementation with a prospect, and the included budget estimation gets down to brass tacks much more quickly.

You’ll get to a point of clarity on whether a client’s budget and needs are aligned with what you can offer, allowing you to move clients through the qualification process much faster than with legacy workflows.

4. System Surveyor Automates the Bill of Materials – Imagine the Time Savings!

As a user of System Surveyor drags and drops new elements such as cameras, cabling, network access points and more on the floor plan – behind the scenes, a bill of materials (BOM) is being created. The BOM is a key step in the process for procurement. Once the sales team wins the proposal, much of the work done during budget and estimation process is fine-tuned and automatically turned into a procurement-ready BOM.

Anyone who has been in the business even a few years knows that this is a huge opportunity to streamline the process with accuracy, which is vital for a healthy, profitable project. From the end customer’s perspective, they are happy when the right parts get delivered the first time.

5. Corporate and Campus Physical Security Leaders Produce Realistic Estimates for Unit Leaders and Decision Makers

The physical security leaders who plan to invest in technology are typically working to mitigate risk and fulfill important compliance objectives. But they need to do this on a budget an provide justification for spending investments.

By using the System Surveyor design platform, they can better visually share with key decision makers on the tradeoffs and the design and how it relates to various options. Most importantly, they can show the design to non-technical buyers and make the business case easier. Many of these users have said, “I look more professional in meetings and our stakeholders are thrilled with the ability to visualize the plan – we get to decisions much faster.”

The included budget estimates provide the information they need to pursue approval from business unit leaders or decision makers. Or, if the buildout must be reined in to match a predefined budget limit, physical security leaders can tweak their system designs just like system integrators do.

Get Better Budget Estimations and Better Results with System Surveyor

System Surveyor is an easy to use tool unlike anything else in the industry. Its ability both to help visualize and produce better budget estimates sets it apart from engineering and basic utility software or force-fit of other building management platforms.

The result? This better estimation turns into a better solution for the customer and a healthy profit margin for the solution provider.

If you’re ready to see what System Surveyor can do for your business, reach out to us for a free demo today.