The alarm industry is rapidly evolving right now. Technology advancements outpace the speed at which many central stations make network and software upgrades for their alarm monitoring processes. IT security and consumer demand drive innovation, yet many central stations operate with disparate systems and inefficient processes. Process improvements don’t have to be cost-prohibitive, behemoth projects. Here are five ways you can improve efficiency in your alarm monitoring central station.
1. Perform an Operations Audit
Alarm monitoring is a 24/7 function, which requires three shifts and many staff performing functions. Even within like functions, operators may perform tasks unique to their personal style and preference. When you perform an operations audit, you can identify disparities, inefficiencies, and potential process improvements, many of which may be quickly implementable, low-hanging fruit that results in cost savings.
Your audit identifies and ensures consistent, repeatable processes, which reduce organizational risk because they limit variability and make issues easier to identify. Through this process, you determine and document standard operating procedures (SOPs). You then perform annual audits against those procedures to measure ongoing risk and efficiency. We’ll talk more about SOPs in a moment.
2. Leverage Automation Software Technology to Streamline Workflow
We just discussed how performing an operational audit should identify inefficiencies and inconsistencies with human tasks. A full audit, including systems, will reveal additional opportunities for efficiency improvements through automation and systems integrations. Typically, many repeatable processes with consistent outcomes are quality candidates for automation. Automation should create greater efficiency, reduce costs, reduce the risk associated with non-compliance and variance, and improve quality.
Automation should also support scalability, avoid disruption to systems and processes, and provide a seamless customer experience as your company grows. Consistency is key whether it is regarding compliance, business process, or a positive customer experience. Scalable systems and software automation are the means to that end.
Types of Business Processes to Automate
There is almost no limit to the amount and types of business processes that can be automated. In general, the more complex the function is, the more challenging automation becomes. In general, these are the types of processes that benefit from automation:
- Processes that require multiple people and touchpoints to execute
- High volume, repeatable processes with consistent results.
- Functions that require a high degree of compliance
- Processes that are time-sensitive
The list is not exhaustive, but it gives you a high-level overview. When you combine these characteristics with an operations and systems audit, you see that Central Stations usually have numerous specific processes that are candidates for automation. Here is a list of examples:
- Instructions on how to handle an alarm
- Low-priority alarm management, i.e. – low battery notifications
- Customer scripts for transmissions and notification through calling, texting, and emailing
- Response optimization
- Disparate systems not integrated and causing redundancy
- Manual reporting procedures
- False dispatch management
- Customer support and retention
3. Create SOPs
Once audits have been performed, efficiencies gained, and risks reduced, you must document the procedures. SOPs should be reviewed, audited against, and updated annually. Tackling SOPs can seem like a wearisome, daunting task, so prioritize the most important functions first. Decide what will be documented in what order and include the project into your operational business goals for the year. Once SOPs are in place, you can train to them as well as measure performance by them.
4. Train Your Team
One of the biggest challenges of SOP implementation and consistent procedures is poor adoption. The reason for poor adoption, however, is more often the fault of leadership than the operators, and this is due to a lack of communication. People generally want to perform well for a company, but many employees want to understand why changes occur, what is important, and why and how their direct performance impacts the larger organizational goals.
Along with effectively communicating operational changes comes properly training your employees to adjust their execution. Employees should know how to perform their specific tasks, which should be documented clearly in SOPs that are used to train them. It is also helpful if employees understand the broader implications of the company and the alarm industry, as well. Knowing the industry, the business, and their role will set them up for success, and training (including cross-training) will get them there. In the security industry, The Monitoring Association has a training program designed by members of the industry specifically for alarm operators, to help them understand the monitoring process and their role in life safety.
5. Aim for Continuous Improvement
Nothing stays the same. Once you’ve streamlined workflows, automated, reduced risk and cost, documented all your procedures, and trained your team, you’re not done. However, you are in the best position to use the current state as your performance baseline. You can then use that as a reference point to strive for continuous improvement and operational excellence, which are two functions of a high-performing, revenue-generating Central Station.
At Bold Group, we are seasoned experts in the Central Station alarm monitoring industry, and we are here to assist. If you have a question for one of our experts, let us know.