AvantGuard converts all accounts to SGS' stages platform

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Thursday, February 3, 2011

OGDEN, Utah—AvantGuard Monitoring Centers has converted all of its 110,000 accounts to the stages central station platform from SGS. The move was started on Jan. 18 and completed on Feb. 2 and, according to AvantGuard president Josh Garner, went off without a hitch.

“This was a huge undertaking, but our preparation has made for a very smooth transition. When it came time for game day, we had rehearsed what would happen numerous times. There were no surprises, and really no hiccups to speak of. It was all about practice, practice, practice,” Garner said. “One of the things that we really pressed SGS for was to allow us to do the conversion ourselves. We have the expertise in house, and we just figured … we would really learn the data structure and we would be better users of the software. I think SGS reluctantly acquiesced in letting us do our own conversion. I think they were concerned that we wouldn't be able to finish the job, and they would then have to clean up our mess.”

Of the conversion, SGS VP Hank Goldberg said AvantGuard was to be commended.

“To begin, Josh agreed to carry the burden of conversion. One of the most difficult tasks is to manage the information transition to a new database while making certain dealers are both involved and educated,” Goldberg said. “There was no hesitation. The IT effort at a technical level was challenging, but a great group led by Scott Rich was there to support the project. Everyone took on the conversion as their problem. Suzie Nye led her team of central station managers, data entry managers and staff and all took part in making sure the new processes worked well and were communicated to all parties.”

What was behind the move to switch to a new monitoring platform?

“We picked SGS not so much because of what their software can do, but what we knew they could do as our partners. So far we are ecstatic about the product and the relationship,” Garner said. A key advantage to the software is the so-called “action plans—basically step-by-step decision trees that guide an operator through a dispatch. It’s a total game changer for us in terms of delivering consistent quality responses to alarms,” Garner said. “We are also excited to be among a group of elite fellow stages users. With fellow users like Rapid Response, MACE, USA Central, and some others that are in the works, we feel like the little brother who has been allowed to play on the same court as the big guys. With software it’s often the users who help drive the innovation, and we know we have been beneficiaries already of some of the innovative ideas of the other users.”

Goldberg said stages would make operations at AvantGuard better than they were before.

“Stages was built to solve modern dispatch problems. When central stations reach a certain size or try to service select markets, the old solutions fall short. If you consider the ‘system’ as a database, you miss the mark. The issues are ‘process’ and ‘integration’ with a focus on communications,” Goldberg said. “Stages reduces calls made and calls received—new calling tools allow a central station to communicate to users as management defines and as the consumer desires. Voice for many people is not always the preferred method.”

Various other central stations, including Mace CSSS, Brink’s Home Security before its name change and sale, Rapid Response and G4S, have previously converted to the stages central station automation platform.