So, you've decided to take the first step toward a new remote monitoring solution. This is very important.
After all, this monitoring system will affect your company's revenue. It goes without saying that you must have the best visibility possible for every piece of equipment at your remote sites.
When it comes to how you want to monitor your gear, you might have some specific requirements - or unique needs - that a basic off-the-shelf product is simply unable to accomplish.
At a time when many vendors are unable or unwilling to build custom network monitoring solutions, customization stands out as something special.
Your network is singularly unique. This means that you might require exclusive functionality added to your monitoring gear. Sadly, most vendors just can't provide customization - either because they want to save money on manufacturing costs or maybe because their manufacturing process is done out of the country and they don't have control over it.
It is essential, though, to work with a company you can count on to provide guidance, because you don't want to end up without support or guarantees.
Look for companies that will work to achieve the perfect-fit product for your requirements based on a custom-engineered solution. To ensure that your monitoring system will surpass your expectations, a vendor should be able to personally go to your company for a field trial.
Field trials offer benefits that go beyond just a good product:
To be assured that you'll get a productive and efficient experience, look for companies that have a long history of successful field trials.
The first sign of an experienced company is that they'll ask for your time and attention. During the visit, they should want to meet with your entire team to understand your requirements, test their own assumptions in your real-world environment, and make sure that they're giving you the perfect-fit product for what you need.
During previous DPS field trials, I've noticed a common down-then-up pattern that you should know about before anything else.
You might presume that things will go pretty smoothly during our visit. After all, we're specialists in custom engineering work. We should be pretty good at it by now.
The truth is that every field trial is different. It always takes some amount of time to diagnose problems that we haven't anticipated in our labs and to engineer solutions accordingly. At the end of the week, though, we always get the job done.
Even though we've been on numerous field trials, this one-week process of initial disappointment followed by ultimate success is remarkably consistent from one field trial to the next:
The "scary" Monday is the ordinary first day of a field trial. On this day, you'll wake up from your dreams of an extraordinarily easy process. We might discover that the prototype doesn't have a critical function. We may have made assumptions that turn out to be untrue. We still have 4 days left to dig out of the hole, but this is a scary situation.
Tuesdays are no picnic either, and they often make Monday's look perfect by comparison. On the second day of our field trial, we're normally busy fixing Monday's new problems and discovering entirely new ones. We're doing a lot of things, but it just hasn't come together yet. With the week approaching its midway point and no success in sight, things are looking terrible.
On the third day of our visit, we start to show progress. We've worked our way through all the surprises that came out from the first two days, so now we're starting to believe that we got safely past the critical point. There's still a lot to do, but there's a light at the end of the tunnel.
It's Thursday and the week is almost over, but at this point we're really showing improvement. You might chuckle to yourself when you think about how impossible the situation felt on Tuesday. Now, it just might work.
Friday comes with the end of the field trial, and today you're impressed by what we've accomplished together. We'll have converted a best-guess prototype into a perfect-fit device crafted just for you. It'll be awesome, guaranteed.
Andrew Erickson is an Application Engineer at DPS Telecom, a manufacturer of semi-custom remote alarm monitoring systems based in Fresno, California. Andrew brings more than 16 years of experience building site monitoring solutions, developing intuitive user interfaces and documentation, and opt...
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