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How to Select the Right Security System Design Software 

by Chris Lee | November 22nd, 2016
When you're designing security systems for a living, you need design software that meets your needs. But how do you determine what kind of security system design solution will work best for your situation? What features are absolutely necessary and which ones are simply convenient tools? How can you determine exactly what your needs are now and what they will be in the future? Here's a quick look at how to choose the best security system design software for your business.

How to Select the Right Security System Design Software

There are a number of different approaches used in design software, from heavily CAD-based options to full design suites that allow for basic click and drag functionality. Which one will work best will depend on your business' focus, the computer literacy of your employees, the features you need to have and what the future has to hold.
  • Will the software output feed into your other programs, such as estimating software and take-off systems? If the system creates a proprietary file format, it may be difficult to share the work with clients, subcontractors and other interested parties. If it doesn't work with other software, you'll spend a lot of time manually entering information from one system to the next. Connectivity and compatibility are key when you need to create economy of work in your process.
  • Does it have too many bells and whistles? Though this may sound silly, just think about it. Too many options can mean too much time will be spent picking up how the system works. You'll also end up paying for those bells and whistles, whether you need them or not. Stick with a design program that exceeds your needs without going overboard.
  • Does it work well with the type of installations you usually design? If your clients typically need ring or mesh system layouts, will the software you're considering work well with that type of layout, or is it really only best used for star layouts? If the security system planning software you're looking at doesn't have the flexibility you need to prepare plans that work for you and your usual clients, you'll be fighting the system the entire way instead of getting the design done and getting out on the job site.
  • Is it based on a single computer or system, or is it cloud based? There has been a strong shift the past few years to cloud-based software because of the cross-platform functionality that allows you to show the customer in the field exactly what's in your design from the convenience of your smart phone. That being said, if your system is only used in the office, a traditional single-point installation may work well for your purposes.
  • Is it able to be used with future technology that isn't as popular yet? Not that many years ago, virtually all security systems were wired into a LAN. But over the years, some companies have shifted to using wireless systems. What about sensors or other options that are becoming more popular in the Internet of Things? If you can ensure that the security system design program is focused on not only the current common technology, but also the upcoming technology, you can rest assured that it will work well for your business for years to come.
  • What's their customer service like? When you have problems with your security system design software, can you quickly and reliably contact the company you purchased through to fix the problem? A really great program that leaves you stuck waiting for a return call isn't as great as it first seems. Be sure to ask about after-hours customer support if you do a lot of your design work in the evenings or early morning before going to installations.
  • Is the program you're looking at a one-off effort, or is the software company looking at continuing to develop the program in the future? As time wears on and computer systems and user needs change, it's usually easier to upgrade to a new version of the software you're already familiar with than to start from scratch learning an entirely new security system design software suite.
  • Where does the developer stand on digitization? Digitization and disruption are two factors that you'll want to take into account when purchasing software. If it's a traditional software company that isn't taking into account the impact that these factors can have on their business, they may not be building the necessary flexibility into the software or their business. This can mean that down the road, that company may have gone out of business or the software won't work well with the rest of your business systems.
  • What's the company's history? Much like contractors, you want to look for a company that has been in the game for a while but is still flexible in its approach to security system design software. Can the business provide testimonials or references from not just the past year or two, but the past decade? There's nothing worse than investing in a piece of software just to learn that the company you need service from has closed its door a year or two down the road or won't return your phone calls for help with a problem.
When you keep these key factors fresh in your mind when choosing security system design software, you can quickly find the best possible solution for your business. By selecting your software with an eye to connectivity and digitization, you can ensure that your software will work well for your company for years to come. But what do you do when you've finished designing the system? Esticom can provide you with electrical estimation solutions that tie in to most design formats, giving you the necessary tools to streamline your business process. Why not sign up for a free trial today to see what Esticom has to offer for your company?
Chris Lee
Chris Lee has an extensive background in preconstruction management as a former specialty contractor and business owner. As the Chief Estimator at Esticom, he’s helped thousands of specialty contractors digitize their preconstruction process to increase revenue and profitability while decreasing unnecessary overhead.

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