Francois Malan, MD of Camsecure has many years’ experience in installing and maintaining surveillance solutions in South Africa, Africa and the Middle East. He joined iLegal 2016 to deliver a presentation focused specifically on what a maintenance programme consists of and what companies should ensure they include in their SLA (service-level agreement) with their service provider.
One of the important points Malan made throughout the presentation was the need for a defined maintenance programme, not simply relying on a service provider on a call-out basis. Not only will this help to ensure your system performs optimally at all times, but it will be less costly than making a call every time something goes wrong – or simply ignoring problems until they are large enough and there are sufficient to warrant a call out fee.
He also advised companies to look beyond the legalese that make up most of these contracts, and often result in nobody within the client’s company or the service provider knowing what they are supposed to do. Make sure your operational requirements are clearly stated in the SLA; waffle will result in poor service and endless misunderstandings.
To do this, he suggests first defining the service you require. Do you need someone to clean the cameras once per month? What about checking the cameras’ firmware for updates? What about ensuring the cameras are pointing exactly where they are supposed to point? What about the servers and computers in the control room – who maintains and updates them? These and a host of other issues must be clearly set out in the SLA.
The facilities or security manager (or whoever is responsible) must also ensure that standards of service and the performance of equipment are set and documented in the contract. The company should also set benchmarks relating to performance and maintenance, and measure these year on year. This will ensure that everybody understands the minimum required, and gives the service provider a base to work from. It will also provide the client with a base on which to measure the performance of the service provider, avoiding any misunderstandings or finger pointing when one person expects one thing and gets another.
Along with this, the client must also have the ability to monitor their system to ensure the standards are maintained. This does not have to consist of expensive technical equipment, but, for example, can be something as simple as a benchmark document containing a snapshot of each camera’s correct view. The provider will be tasked with ensuring the camera is not moved or loses its focus at set intervals. Simple spreadsheets and checklists will also make the process easier for all. A set standard for product and repairs must be defined to ensure the correct products are always used and repairs handled in accordance with these standards.
The SLA must also contain procedures for call outs and reporting. Things to include here are response times, how many call outs per month will be required, out of call-out rates, spares that should be held on site or with the service provider, and the process around job cards and logs. And this leads to the question of reporting.
All too often, reports on maintenance and SLAs are done via word of mouth when the service provider meets the relevant manager. The SLA must make allowances for formal reporting processes, weekly or monthly as required, along with documentation regarding every system installed, all work done and changes made.
Malan stressed that the most important facet of your maintenance and service provider relationship is communications. Everyone concerned needs to know who to contact in various situations, what correspondence is required (such as purchase orders, invoices, reports etc.) and the timeframes of appropriate responses.
An SLA consists of much more than the few items listed above, as Malan explained in his presentation, but it’s a job worth doing well. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how much you spend on a security or surveillance project if you can’t keep the systems running at an acceptable level, and at a predetermined, acceptable cost.
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