A Look Inside ADI’s Systems Group: Design, Project Registration & IP Programming
Recently Honeywell announced that Resideo will be the corporate name of the Honeywell Homes product portfolio and ADI Global Distribution businesses when they become a stand-alone, publicly traded company following completion of a spin-off that is expected by the end of 2018.
The changes coming to Honeywell and ADI are likely to be significant in the coming months; but the folks there that you deal with every day want you to know that it’s really going to be business as usual in so many ways.
For example, ADI Global Distribution will retain its name and remain as a free-standing distribution business of Resideo. The ADI business has more than 200 physical locations in nearly 20 countries, offering more than 350,000 products to more than 100,000 dealer customers. You’d be hard-pressed to find a security dealer who is not an ADI customer.
One of the many advantages of doing business with ADI is its Systems Design and Support Team based in Louisville, Ky. This group of trained subject matter experts drives ADI’s Systems Design, Project Registration, and IP Equipment Programming Services, designed to help security dealers and systems integrators secure more business. These services are assets to ADI customers, especially in today’s business climate where a lack of qualified technicians continues to plague security companies.
“The intent of the value-added services of our systems, project registration, and programming centers revolves around helping the dealer or integrator to better improve their position in securing the job while, at the same time, earning the maximum financial benefit and moving onto their next project in a timely manner,” said John Sullivan, senior vice president of strategic sales at ADI.
What ADI has found, Sullivan said, is that by shifting these services from the branch level to a centralized group, “we could create pod-level intelligence, which allows us to deliver a much better support structure in a timely manner to dealers and integrators.”
Sullivan is referring to how the Systems Design and Support Team is structured in pods, with people who have expertise in video/access control/IT, pro AV, fire and intrusion. Across all the pods and among the entire group, “we get about 1,200 calls and emails a day,” Sullivan added.
The overall group, managed by John J. Murphy IV, director of customer experience and support at ADI, is comprised of approximately 30 sales engineers located in Louisville and Orange, Calif., and another six, both English and French speaking, that are located in Canada. They are certified for the jobs they’re required to work on; for example, NICET-certified engineers are assigned to work on the fire alarm projects and so forth.
“Our people, for the most part, come from real-world experience and understanding. These are higher-level sales engineers that understand how to put together systems and understand all of the technologies,” Sullivan explained.
When a dealer or a security integrator calls in and describes the details and the objective of his or her project, the sales engineer then sets to work designing it. In some cases, more than one sales engineer will work on the same project, depending on the type of expertise that’s needed — for example, an integrated system involving both fire alarm and access control.
The dealers and the sales engineers share information about platforms, brands, areas of coverage, compliance requirements, and more. Sometimes the project is lighter in scope, such as a camera replacement job, and ADI’s Systems Design and Support Team can help with that as well.
“The key to it is the fact that our team is made up of experts at basically every product line that ADI carries. And so [they’re available] to not only help you when you know what you want, but, if you simply describe what you're looking for, give you options for what you can get,” said Murphy.
Once the job is spec’d, it is forwarded to the local branch. “The person who requested the quote gets a copy and then the branch gets notification that it’s there so that they can help follow up and work on any fine-tuning that needs to be done on the quote,” Murphy said. “The branch has the ability to work on that quote and help to make sure that that dealer or integrator wins the overall opportunity,” Sullivan said.
While ADI’s local branches can help dealers to be as competitive as possible on their pricing, some integrators need just a little bit more aggressive pricing and that’s where project registration can help.
Project registration also is part of the Systems Design and Support Team in Louisville. “We found out that [project registration] was going on a lot in the branches. When we looked at the amount of time that it takes [to work with the] vendors [on project registration], we realized that centralizing this service could create a level of efficiencies that would enable us to service those dealers and integrators quicker,” Sullivan said. “So that way, if I have a deal and I know that I have a fire system and an access and video system tied to it, I can call each one of those vendors and tell them the size of the job and then they can provide some kind of a discount. That way we can make sure our customer is given that discount,” Sullivan explained about the procedure, adding that each vendor may have a different threshold for project size before considering a discount.
“Our role in project registration is to facilitate the two-way communication between our vendors and our customers, but we don’t favor one vendor over another. It’s all about getting the best price for the customer,” Sullivan said. “A lot of times it’s tied to the fact that the dealer or integrator has found an opportunity that a vendor would never have found out about; or wouldn’t have found out about it in a timely manner. So, we give the vendors that participate in our project registration program a chance to turn around and say, ‘You know something, I’d like for [the integrator] to win the bid for that project. To help them to win the job, I’m going to give them a discount they can pass on to their customers and that way we win it together.’
“We make sure that 100 percent of the discount that ADI is given is passed through to the dealer/integrator. We do not keep any of those funds. We only act as the communication go-between to help that customer go out there and get the project,” Sullivan said.
There are eight people working on project registration at ADI and the average time it takes to get a project registered is about 1.25 hours, he noted.
“What we’re finding is that the vendor community is very quick to answer the phone for our team. That’s because they realize that it’s important to respond quickly so that they win the project against other vendors that might be in the door if they’re checking all their other bids,” Sullivan said.
Once the ADI team gets the registration from the vendor, it is coded in the system and anything bought against that registration is given the appropriate discount for the job. “So the customers can now go out there and secure that position as soon as the customer signs their deal. That’s the way the registration process works,” Sullivan explained.
ADI’s IP programming services can handle any type of platform – including video, access control, intrusion and more – although the primary need in the industry is for IP video cameras to be programmed.
“Let’s say that we have 60 cameras on a job site; we’ll take those cameras and we will program them up. It could be a Hanwha camera, let's say. We have an area built out in Louisville, Ky., where we can move the products right from the 200,000-square-foot hub, over to our programming center. We’ll then take those cameras, pull them out of the box, program them up with their IP address, then hook them up to a system. We’ll understand what the VMS is, and what the actual system’s going to look like in the end. We’ll hook them up, and burn them in and we’ll make sure that they work for over 30 minutes. Once they pass that test, we unhook them, label them with the IP address, put them back in the box that they came in, also re-labeled with the IP address, and put it all on a skid. At that point the project is ready to ship when the customer’s looking for it,” Sullivan described.
By providing this service, the ADI customer doesn’t have to do that level of programming at the job site. “It’s all done for him.” Basically, this service simplifies the job. “We’re able to box it up so the tech that’s doing the install can actually have an organized approach to how they’re laying out their install when they get to the job site,” Sullivan said.
ADI’s IP programming service can help security integrators better manage their resources because they don’t need to have their higher-level technicians doing tedious programming. ADI will do that for them, which frees up technician resources for other work.
ADI programs tens of thousands of cameras through the IP programming team on an annual basis, Sullivan said. “The dealers and the integrators out there that are on projects — they get it.”
This service would also work for a job that is smaller in scale, but with multiple locations, such as a retailer with shops in multiple cities or states. “We can easily package those up, put them on a skid, and ship them to each one of those locations in the timeframe that they ask us. It’ll be on the dot,” Sullivan said.
While ADI can provide camera programming for small as well as large jobs, it’s usually better for the dealer to pick up the cameras locally and do the programming themselves if it’s going to be a smaller job. “We generally tell people, ‘If you need at least 50 cameras for a job site, then I would say it’s worth it for us to help you program them.’”
If you need the cameras programmed as a rush job, ADI can do that, too. “Yeah, absolutely, we try to manage it on a case-by-case basis, but if it’s under 200 cameras, we can usually move it in. If we’ve got the product in stock we’ll get it out as fast as it needs to get to you. Obviously, it’s not something we do all the time, but we do make those exceptions and we do everything we can to make sure the integrator hits their deadline,” Murphy emphasized.
While security integrators could well do their own programming, the fact that it’s cumbersome and inefficient to do it on the job site is one reason for using the programming services of ADI’s Systems Design and Support Team.
“[If] a technician already has the cameras labeled with an IP address, all they have to do is find the ladder and hang the device, right? Much, much easier,” Sullivan said.
Finally, ADI’s IP programming services can help dealers and integrators use their credit more efficiently because products are shipped after they’re programmed and when they are ready to be installed. “So what we do there is to help dealers and integrators by just staging projects,” Sullivan said.
Let’s say you have 60 cameras for a job site and you tell ADI you don’t need equipment until September 23. You want it programmed, ready to go, on a skid, on the job site, on that date. “We will make that happen for you on that date. So instead of getting the equipment a week or two in advance, doing your own programming and trying to get it all together or staging it all in your back warehouse, we’ll do it at our facility in one of our hubs. We get it all together for you, put it on a skid, shrink wrap it, and then send it over to you as a staging service,” Sullivan explained.
This service is extremely important for all sizes of security companies, but especially for larger organizations that “really watch their working capital closely,” Sullivan said. “Some larger integrators that understand the financial end really well call that ‘working capital improvement.’ Others really understand the benefit of ‘just in time inventory’ so that they’re not buying inventory and storing it, and stocking it in their warehouse when it’s not going to be able to be billed out.”
As far as cost for these services, there is no charge to ADI customers for project design or registration. There is a nominal charge for programming, which is structured in tiers, “but it is significantly less than what you would pay for a person to be out there in a van doing the same work that we’re doing,” Sullivan said.
The Systems Design and Support Team is a highly educated and skilled set of people. ADI does at least one hour of training every week for every employee. Further, ADI’s top vendors are in the facility training the teams during four one-hour sessions, three to four times a week.
“In addition to that, we are the subject-matter experts for all the training that ADI puts out. When the learning team builds trainings, they have the Systems Team go through them and make sure that they’re factually correct and everything’s accurate. We’re taking our experts and making sure that they’re involved in every aspect of the learning process at ADI,” Murphy said.
“There’s been a very large investment put into this group overall in the organization, but also in Louisville, and that is huge,” Sullivan said. “I was in Louisville this week with a very large integrator [and] they were absolutely wowed by what we had to show them. They were extremely impressed with the level of service and how they could see overall dollars improvement, and cost improvements tied to their organization because of all the pieces that we went through. So it’s pretty neat.”