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The Importance of Proper Documentation

One of the many areas that GMI and the #DoneRightNotEasy crew excel is our ability to manage a variety of different job sites at one time, while simultaneously providing concierge level service to our existing clients. As we have discussed many times on this blog, our systems are complex, robust, and deeply customized, which makes keeping track of all their nuances is quite the tall order.  Many integrators will rely solely on the memory capacity of their engineers, which is a recipe for disaster, as memories, like human beings themselves, are incredibly fallible. The solution to this, of course, is maintaining proper documentation, keeping a detailed log of a system’s structure creates a road map to that system and allows your engineers to effectively manage projects to scale.

To properly document a system one must first map out the physical location of the equipment itself. Remember, the systems we deploy or takeover are more often than not very complex, with components in many areas of the home. While we strive to centralize our control equipment, system hardware such as televisions, panels, speakers and network components will be placed throughout the space, and it is important to know where in the home these devices are living. Each device’s serial and model number are also recorded to allow for quick replacement if an individual component unexpectedly fails.

To properly document a system one must first map out the physical location of the equipment itself.

At the control rack level, each individual processor will contain a multitude of control outlets. Each of these outputs is documented extensively, including what specific component it controls, what type of connection is used and where the wire is run. This goes hand in hand with proper wire labeling, as properly labeled wires will align with your documentation, saving engineers time on future service visits. Network switches are documented in a similar fashion, mapping out the localized network or device to which each port belongs.

By now you may be asking yourself, why take all the time on the front end of the job building such a detailed map of your system? By documenting everything you do, your likelihood of repeating a mistake on a future job is reduced to near zero. With system infrastructure this complicated and multifaceted, the lack of proper documentation to reference could cause a simple issue to become time consuming and costly as you move on to future jobs. Another efficiency created by proper documentation is the ability to confidently assign a task to a member of your team without re explaining a procedure or nuance to them, even if they haven’t ever laid eyes on the system before.  

Once a job is complete, the due diligence of proper documentation continues to pay off. When a problem crops up with a control system, referring to the system documentation lets us spend less time spent on basic troubleshooting, ruling out basic issues. This is instrumental in our concierge level service, as having knowledge of where each component is and what it is connected too, allows us to power cycle or reset the correct individual piece of equipment by simply by consulting the documentation. By looking into the documentation to diagnose how a system is connected and make a decision if it’s something we can take care of from the back end,  this process could even save the expense of rolling a truck out to the job. . The site documentation is eventually compiled into what we call an end user document, which is an easy to understand layout of a customer system, acting as a sort of owner’s manual for their one of a kind control system.

At the end of the day, while this extensive documentation may be time consuming on the front end, the end result is company wide best practices that will inevitably create more efficiencies on the job site and beyond. Just another example of how GMI makes sure to do things right, and not easy.


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