Hotel Phone System Installation Planning – why it’s so hard and why it’s so important
We can normally spot a professional telephone installer based almost exclusively on one feature. It’s not a good looking website, a neat business card, or a professional sounding auto attendant; all these things can be bought or copied from others. What can’t be bought is experience, the invaluable lessons learned from encountering an unexpected challenge and overcoming it. These experiences teach the good phone technician that planning for an install is key to doing it right; a plan is what separates the good installers from the pros.
We recently had the pleasure of working with a professional installer putting in a very large hotel telephone system. Right from the beginning it was clear he had a game plan. He knew what was what in the phone room. He knew what was going to be installed/tested first, second, third, all the way to the end of the install. He knew who to talk with if there was a question or problem. And he knew where all the important equipment was.
As a result the installation went very smoothly. Everyone involved knew what was happening where and when. There was a backup plan if anything failed out of the box; all needed equipment and tools were at hand; and all important decisions had already been made. We got in, did the job, and left, like professionals.
Compare this to another installation we worked on. There was no plan beyond “go install the new phone system.” There was no central leadership, no game plan, no schedule, and no hope of a smooth install. As you might expect this install saw important skilled people sitting around with nothing to do for hours only to be rushed later because the information and equipment they needed had only just been made available. None of the staff at the site knew what to expect or who to talk to if there was a problem, and several issues arose that could not be resolved at time of install. All these issues could have been lessened, if not completely eliminated, with a proper plan. The end result was an unhappy customer and a unprofessional install.
So why then is simple planning so hard? It stands to reason that if you have a large project to accomplish and several people working on it that a plan, even a general one, would be a good idea. My argument is that planning is often not performed because it does not yield immediate results. Installation yields immediate results, you get the hotel phone system on the wall. Even troubleshooting yields immediate results, you fix a problem and make someone happy. But planning is something that many otherwise good telephone installers put off. They often say to themselves “I have X years of experience and have installed Y number of systems, I don’t want to waste time planning what I already know how to do.” But what they don’t realize is that the best place to put those years of experience to use is in making a good plan. Sitting down and thinking thought the installation when time and reputation are not on the line is the best use of experience.
If you’re still unconvinced try this. Take the next reasonably straight forward job and commit to just one full hour of planning for it. Write the plan down, organize it in the order in which tasks will be completed, try to anticipate possible problems and come up with their solutions, and take it to the job site. Then a week or two later, once the job is done and post install issues have been resolved, take a serious look at that hour spent ahead of time; my prediction is that the hour spent planning will have saved you at least two at the job site and maybe another hour in post installation fixes.