KNX: Step-by-Step Project Management, Part 2

“Installing an automation system is for adults the same as for children and their toy train. There is no better feeling than pushing a button and letting the magic happen.” – Trainer at KNX Basic Course

Everyone, who has used the ETS, can confirm that putting an installation into practise is more fun than work. Like the artist who creates a drawing or the chef who creates a delicacy, the system integrator is building a piece of art, which likewise will contribute to the well-being of a customer. However, unlike other investments in art and food, the investment in the automation system will sooner or later amortise. And do not forget the contribution to a greener world. Yes, system integrators can and should be proud of their work.

However, getting back down to earth, pride can only be taken in something that has been concluded perfectly. In our previous article, we had a deeper look at the start of the project. Now that the system has been integrated, the proper handover will conclude the project. Also for the handover there are certain steps, which will be focussed on in this article. Welcome to the Checklist for Installers – Part 2.

The Visual Inspection
As mentioned in part 1, only the obvious is visible to the customer. Now that the system has been installed, we know that this is not completely true. Switches, lamps, blinds, etc., might be what the customer is looking at at first, but not at other important aspects of the installation, which are visible as well. Therefore, it is the job of the integrator to have a closer look at the installation. In order to ease this process, simply check the following nine aspects:

· Are all branch and connection boxes closed?
· Connections for customer’s onsite lights are at least insulated or fitted with a temporary lamp holder?
· All push-buttons are labelled as specified by customer and have been cleanly and securely fitted?
· Distribution boards are fully labelled and cleaned?
· Distribution diagrams with distribution boards are complete?
· Bus components including push-buttons are labelled with the physical address?
· Network sockets are labelled System and equipment descriptions and operating instructions are provided in a separate folder?
· Maintenance documents, plans, diagrams and specifications are also provided in a separate folder?
·System documentation left with customer?

Were you able to put a check mark behind each question? If yes, we can move on to the next point. If not, better have a closer look again.

Functional Check
When the visual inspection has been finalised it would almost be time for the customer to experience his new installation, push all buttons and let the magic happen. However, it would be quite embarrassing for the integrator, if when the customer pushes a button nothing happens, or if instead of the light turning on, the alarm goes off. To avoid an embarrassing mishap, make sure that the following questions can be answered positively:

· Installation checked and all measurements performed (E-CHECK, network, etc.)?
· Lighting, dimmers, blinds, central functions, scenarios, etc., checked for correct functioning?
· Window contacts checked?
· Intercom checked?
·Interfaces with third-party systems checked (music, alarm, ventilation, etc.)?
· Room-specific calibration of room temperature controllers checked?

Everything in order? Everything good? If yes, we can finally involve our customer and see, if we could make him happy.

Introducing the Installation to the Customer
In the first checklist, we discussed together with the customer his exact requirements for the new system. The introduction of the installation is therefore the final check, whether the customer and the integrator were speaking the same language from the very beginning. For being sure, let us have a look at the following tasks:

· Customer briefed on the installation?
· Customer briefed on the location of specific devices, e.g. wind sensors, central controls, etc.?
· Customer briefed on safety/security applications and alarm control point?
· Switching, dimming and blind functions explained to customer
· Content and navigation of touch panel menus and visual displays explained?
· Customer briefed on setting of timers and operation of other customer-relevant functions, e.g. calling up and saving of scenarios?
· Customer briefed on operation of room temperature controllers and other room control panels?
· Customer action in case of bus/supply voltage failure and restoration discussed?
· Further issues relating to the installation raised by the design engineer/system integrator?

Again, only if all these questions have been answered positively and the customer understood as well agreed to everything, the installation can be regarded as concluded for now. However, never underestimate the depth of a customer’s desire. Therefore, only if the customer also gives his agreement to all points, we can finally conclude the project with the last and final step.

The Handover of the System to the Customer
Everything has been checked? Everything is working as designed? The customer has been put in awe? If yes, great!

Then we can finally get to the handover of the project. However, a handover is not just a simple handshake or telling your customer to wire the money already. Always keep in mind that the easy part is to win a customer, but the harder part is to actually keep him (not to mention the hardest is to win the customer back).

If you want to show your experience and professionalism, so that the customer also recommends your services to his contacts, always make sure that the following questions have been answered positively:

· Has all project software, system documentation and all manuals been handed over (either on a CD-Rom or on a USB-Drive)?
· Have you scheduled the ‘One-off subsequent programming’, approx. three months after the official handover?
· Does the customer have all service telephone numbers?
· Has a maintenance contract been signed?
· Has the acceptance report signed as per the discussed specifications been signed?

Often not taken into consideration are agreements regarding “after-sales”. Especially, once the customer has made himself familiar with the installation, flaws of the installed system can be visible to him. Therefore, never forget to also offer him constant support after the installation has been finished. 

In a Nutshell – Part 2
Understanding the customer’s needs and desires is crucial for the implementation of the project. However, proving your professionalism in order to handover a proper project is as crucial as the planning. In the end, the customer will judge your installation and spread the word about your qualities. As it is in every field the case, a happy customer is the best advertisement for you. Therefore, always keep in mind that the handover needs to be well prepared, if not even more thoroughly than the actual preparation of the project.

As for the first checklist, “Checklist – Part 2” is available for download and can be used as an official document between you and your customer. Simply download it here for free and make sure that your customer is happy.

For more information on KNX and the easy installation of this open technology, have a look at Start@KNX.

Do not miss the next article: “KNX Secure Checklist – Is your installation safe?”

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