How a top security integrator moved from paper mockups to a digital, interactive floor plan.
Help 3Sixty Integrated eliminate data replication and disorganization through every stage of the design and build process
3Sixty Integrated designs, installs, and services electronic security systems for government and enterprise clients in Texas and the surrounding states.
Founded in 2002 as DHS Security, a commercial and residential security firm, the company sold off its residential business in 2008 and rebranded as 3Sixty Integrated.
Ranked as the 9th fastest growing security integrator in the country, 3Sixty is a trusted partner for clients in the US military, K-12 independent school districts, higher education, healthcare, and enterprise-level business.
From Analog to Digital: Automating Work
Robust security systems often start as rough sketches and thought-heavy design experiments.
This phase involves hours of discussion with customers about the best solution to fit their needs. A sales person or a designer often needs to walk the job site to plan the design with the system owner.
This can take hundreds of man-hours to complete and is typically done with paper or by using printed floor plans (when available).
That leads to problems.
“We’d go out there and have a paper print and a notebook. You would handwrite everything, and you would try to cram all that into your drawing,” said Richard McKinney, a design engineer with 3Sixty Integrated. “So, if you had a cluster of devices, you would have to squeeze all of your notes together or write them somewhere else.”
As Richard McKinney points out, that was a problem on every job that 3Sixty undertook. 3Sixty designers would sketch design plans on paper and take pictures with their smartphones before leaving the job site. But, back at the office, they would struggle to match up the pictures and notes with the designs.
It was also impossible to have someone else at the office complete the design due to the lack of organized information which often resulted in design bottlenecks and customers waiting weeks for designs.
To make matters worse, the design team not only needed to understand the plans for themselves. They also needed to be sure that the project managers and installers understood everything before the work could begin. While long and complicated meetings might cost the company thousands in man-hours and lost time, mistakes on the job site could be even more costly.
Integrating Digital Solutions
The problem wasn’t 3Sixty’s workflow; the problem was paper and disconnected information. In an industry specializing in digital security solutions, the foundation of any successful job was a centuries-old invention with limited space for notes, instructions, and guidance.
Then-CEO Joseph Ndesandjo realized that the complications his company was experiencing were shortfalls of the standard industry-wide processes they were using. Working with software developers, Ndesandjo set out to replace traditional pen-and-paper design standards with a better solution.
Implementing feedback from his in-house designers, Ndesandjo developed SiteOwl’s Design Application, a mobile solution which allows designers to create digital floor plans and capture all relevant design information while automatically building the parts list for the project.
SiteOwl’s Mobile Design App changed everything for the company by allowing designers to accurately capture and centralize all relevant information during an onsite walkthrough before passing that content seamlessly to the installation team.
“When SiteOwl’s Design App was first released, we were excited about it because it eased a lot of the pain points that came as a result of paper plans,” Tyler Nichols said.
A security system designer with 3Sixty, Tyler Nichols notes that the first software releases needed more features. His team collaborated heavily with SiteOwl’s developers to enhance the functionality that any security integrator would want to have on hand.
“The biggest benefit that SiteOwl brought me is time. You don’t get time back, and the time that SiteOwl saves you back at the office compared to the old way is significant.”
More Accurate Designs
Since bringing SiteOwl into their daily workflow, 3Sixty’s floor plans and design mockups have only gotten more accurate.
“It was a game changer for us,” Tyler Nichols explained. “Now we have a way of going out there without paper plans, using an interactive map, along with different security devices that we are able to place on the map. Then we are able to take pictures at that location to capture visual field instructions.”
The 3Sixty design team is no longer confined to paper sheets and regularly uses the mobile app to zoom in and pinpoint specific installation locations and devices which may require upgrades or maintenance.
Because SiteOwl uses an interactive, digital interface, designers can take pictures, drag and drop devices, and make notes while ensuring that the floorplan is simple and easy to understand.
Simplified Data Collection and Sharing
Keeping the information straight — one of the biggest challenges the 3Sixty design team experienced — came to an end when SiteOwl stepped in.
Because the platform allows designers to digitize and upload their information while in the field, sorting through those design plans and information back at the office became a thing of the past.
With SiteOwl, all notes and images are attached to the interactive icons that the design team creates while walking the job site. This streamlined workflow has saved designers from trying to decipher notes and piece together floor plans based on jumbled information.
“The biggest benefit that SiteOwl brought me is time,” said Richard McKinney. “You don’t get time back, and the time that SiteOwl saves you back at the office compared to the old way is significant.”
An Enhanced Customer Experience
The SiteOwl Field Installation App is critical to the 3Sixty workflow because of the enhanced customer experience it provides in both efficiency and delivery. The visual interfaces take the guesswork out of project progress and even provides customer access so system owners can see the install as it happens in real-time.
The ability to deliver projects on a predictable timeline that meets customer expectations gives 3Sixty an advantage over its competitors, who still use blueprints and pen-and-paper methods of communication.
By utilizing SiteOwl, 3Sixty has been able to efficiently optimize and track progress while providing world-class customer communication throughout every customer installation.