Connecting to Customers in 2020 from Professional Services

With the end of one decade and the beginning of a new, the Open Options Professional Service team is truly motivated by the new opportunities that await us in 2020 and beyond.  Over the last decade, our team has built a solid reputation in aiding our customers in complex IT-related tasks, tapping into on-site services, remote support, redundancy services, custom reports and database services and more.

In 2020, we see this trend continuing with more emphasis on cybersecurity, networking and IoT.  To prepare the team, we have added additional support starting in January, as well as continued training and education on multiple technologies.

OO Professional Services team has always been an extension of our partners' organization. Our goal in 2020 is to reduce and minimize security challenges that will result in lower total cost of ownership for partners and end user organizations and continued support of internal and external customers on pre-sales, system evaluation, and solution demo opportunities.

We look forward to a fabulous year and welcome new partners in 2020!

How Tech Support will connect with Customers in 2020

With a successful 2019 under our belt, the Technical Support Department is pleased to begin the year by expanding the team and add another support line to assist our customers better!

Last year, we had an increase of calls, and while we did our best to ensure each customer received the highest level of support they needed, there was an occasional voicemail for a return call.

With a 100% retention in 2019 and our continued inhouse training with our integration partners, our team is in the position to manage the ever-changing technological issues while handling all calls to improve the overall customer experience.

Happy New Year from the Tech Support team! We look forward to working with you in 2020!

Expanding our Connections in 2020 from the OO Training Team

As the Open Options Training Department closes the calendar on a busy 2019, we already have an exciting 2020 scheduled for you this year. Our team will be connecting with our customers in more cities around the nation: with new regional classes being conducted from coast to coast with sessions in Tulsa, Boise, Seattle, Denver, Orlando, Southern California, and Philadelphia, to just name a few. Each stop will offer training sessions for both dealers and system users. These sessions will build a foundation of knowledge on the DNA Fusion application as well as offering certification opportunities for all students.

We also have a monthly Essentials class for dealer certification held at the Open Options headquarters in Addison, Texas. For those that have completed the first Essentials class, we have two Advanced classes on the schedule for continued education. A new integration class will also be rolled out in October. This new course will be specifically focused on training users on the various product integrations that are available with the DNA Fusion platform.

As part of our regular portfolio, we offer two types of classes for system user certification: System Administrator and ConnectEd. Both classes focus on the administrative side of DNA Fusion, however ConnectEd sessions will be are offered in conjunction with ConnectCare services. These sessions bring system users from all markets together to work through their real-world scenarios.

In addition to our regularly scheduled dealer and system user classes, the Open Options training department conducts custom on-site training on an “as-needed” basis. These are particularly useful to organizations that would like to train multiple students as well as those organizations that need a follow-up to previous training attended by their students.

Whether you’re a new Open Options dealer or you’ve been using the software for years, these classes will provide you with in-depth, personalized instruction from an Open Options expert.

If you would like to enroll in a class, please register on the Open Options ConnectEd site. Once approved, you will have access to the class calendar which provides the ability to register for the class of your choice.

Thank you for your support in 2019. We look forward to seeing you in 2020!

How Sales will connect with Customers in 2020

In 2019, Open Options introduced an enhanced Advantage Dealer Program, including a new Advantage Platinum Status, to recognize and reward dealers for demonstrating outstanding partnership and performance. We are proud to announce that 6 of our dealer partners have attained Advantage Platinum Status for 2020:

- 3Sixty Integrated – San Antonio, TX

- Signature Systems – Casselberry, FL

- A3 Communications – Irmo, SC

- Micro Integration – Houston, TX

- DAC, Inc. – Houston, TX

- ETG Systems – Denver, CO

Congratulations to the inaugural Advantage Platinum Dealer Class of 2020. We appreciate your commitment, support, and partnership.

Additionally, in 2019, Open Options introduced our Connect Care Suite of Products and Services, which represents the next level of customer care through four key pillars:

- Platform Support

- Technical Support

- Professional Services

- Training

In 2020, the Open Options’ Sales Team will focus on educating our dealer, specifier, and end-user partners on Connect Care. The team will share how the four strategic pillars of Connect Care work together to empower the customer with what they need when they need it

Driving the Conversion to DNA Fusion with Professional Services

A customer in the commercial real estate industry wanted to transition to the DNA Fusion software platform, while still using Mercury panels for its access control. Because Open Options had developed a “conversion module” to transition from one manufacturer’s system to DNA Fusion, the customer engaged with the Professional Services team at Open Options to perform a database conversion.

“The customer wanted to convert from another Mercury-based access control application to DNA Fusion,” explained William Murphey, a Professional Services representative at Open Options. “The integrator wanted to ensure that the process would be as painless as possible to mitigate any risks associated with such a change-out.” 

The conversion module that Open Options offers is used to seamlessly convert an existing access control system to DNA Fusion, so the customer can gain all the benefits of the market-leading platform from Open Options. The Professional Services team was initially engaged to scope out the conversion process and to identify any potential hurdles to the conversion process by evaluating a copy of the competitive system's database.

“Once the evaluation was complete, we informed the integrator that the conversion would be pretty straightforward,” said Murphey, pointing to the confidence that Open Options instilled in the customer.

As planned, Professional Services helped the customer with the database conversion, resulting in a happy customer.

“We were able to successfully convert them into DNA Fusion and confirmed all door functionality worked as expected,” said the customer. “All in all, this migration went very well, and the process was very simple to implement into the field. I appreciate the work and quick turnaround times to accomplish this project. The facility team and security have had a great experience with this transition and are impressed by the capabilities of DNA Fusion from the initial feedback we have received.”

Professional Services provides on-site support with expert know-how, ranging from assistance in planning to deployments and upgrades for large or complex systems. Professional Services also delivers remote services through which a technical professional can access a customer’s DNA Fusion service for installations, conversions and more. 

Banking on Connect Care for an Upgrade Worth Checking

A large bank in the South was ready to upgrade to the latest version of DNA Fusion (Version 7) for all the new features and functionality. Because this end-user is part of the Connect Care program, the bank had direct access to Open Options, along with the dealer. And they are sure glad they did. 

The end-user desired to schedule an appointment with Open Options to ensure that everything went smoothly during the upgrade. The bank wanted to take advantage of Connect Care, which represents the next level of customer care for access control installations. The Connect Care program provides access that connects end-user customers to Open Options’ Tech Support directly for a quick resolution of challenges or issues – with a qualified, experienced professional at the other end of the line.

The end-user customer stepped through the upgrade with Luis, a tech support specialist at Open Options. The bank also wanted to ensure that their alarm panel integration was brought online successfully with the latest version of DNA Fusion, which is the most advanced open platform access control solution on the market today. 

The bank’s DNA Fusion environment consisted of two site drivers, so it was important to have them update the DNA server with site driver 1 before they upgraded the client that had site driver 2.  However, the upgrade hit a snag. 

“They encountered a SQL protocol issue during the upgrade, but Luis was prepared with the solution,” said Nic Robran, Technical Support Manager, Open Options. “So, they breezed through the upgrade and successfully pushed out the upgrade to the remaining remote clients on their system.”

The next step was ensuring that the DMP integration was functioning. “We previously did a custom setup for them with the DMP integration, so Lane, our subject matter expert, was prepared and ready to assist when they ran into an issue with the DMP receiver functionality,” added Robran. 

After a quick analysis, Lane discovered they had a firewall issue that was causing the interruption in the service. Once he let the customer know, they passed that information onto their network technicians, who resolved the issue.

“The end-user customer was pleased that the upgrade was completed, and their entire system was back online and functioning, as desired,” said Robran. “Our Connect Care program allowed us to directly assist the end-user in this case, since the entire event was software and network related.”

This upgrade also showcased the mutually beneficial relationship between Open Options and the dealer, helping and supporting each other in a customer-first commitment to excellence. “The local dealer was on standby in case they needed to take any action on the hardware side,” added Robran, building the end-user’s confidence in the dealer for ongoing support. “But they were able to allocate resources to other projects, which they liked, since Open Options was able to assist through our Connect Care program.”

Santa Claus Couldn’t Have Provided Better Sales Support of the Customer

Twas’ the night before integration… a third-party product needed to be integrated into a high-profile customer’s access control environment. However, difficulties hung in the air, like stockings full of coal over a fireplace. An Open Options sales manager went above and beyond to deliver a fix – and without the need of a proverbial red-nosed reindeer.

“The high-profile customer required this integration to be completed by a certain deadline,” said Dan Cosgrove, Midwest Regional Sales Manager at Open Options. “But the new integration with a third-party ran into problems, and there was difficulty gaining status of this through DNA Fusion.”

The Open Options sales rep assigned to the account jumped in to muster necessary resources to address both the third-party product and DNA Fusion from Open Options.

Open Options has a commitment to do anything and everything possible to find a resolution for the customer in the shortest period of time and with the least disruption, regardless whether it’s related to DNA or a third-party product. It’s a level of sales support by Open Options that has raised the bar in the security industry. It puts the customer first. 

“It was ultimately determined the issued resided with the other company's product,” explained Cosgrove. “Their engineering support, whom we introduced to the problematic situation, was able to gain a satisfactory resolution.” And the Open Options sales manager facilitated the best response and positive outcome without having to go down a chimney. But if there was ever a need to go down a chimney to solve a problem for a customer, an Open Options sales representative would be the first to do it for the good of the customer. 

2020 Training At A Glance

With only 28 days left in 2019, the Open Options training department has been busy connecting with customers this past year. We were thrilled to have over 250 class attendees in 2019 and were excited to spread the Open Options knowledge base.

For 2020, our new Training schedule has been released. To help make that training more available, the 2020 calendar includes additional regional classes to meet the demand for DNA Fusion training. Our team begins our journey in Tulsa, Oklahoma this January and will continue training classes from coast to coast in cities such as Seattle, Orlando, Southern California and Boise.

In these sessions, Open Options will conduct both Dealer Essentials certification training and System Administrator class in the regional locations. We have also added an Integration class to the Open Options training catalog. The new class will debut in October and is expected to fill quickly based on the initial reaction from our trainees.

Open Options system users will find Administrator training dates as well as Connect Care dates. While we have conducted Administrator classes for years, the new Connect Care class is a component of the Connect Care Service Plan. It provides the system user with a hands-on class that includes wiring of hardware and programming of the DNA Fusion system. This class provides system users with the tools they need to support their DNA Fusion system.

To view the full Open Options training calendar, visit the ConnectEd website – You will need to register on the site to view the training calendar. Once approved, you can view and register for classes. We look forward to seeing you in 2020!

Back to School: 1-on-1 Training, Overrides and a “Ghost”

Back to school means back to training, with several schools bringing in Open Options for not only equipping groups of system users but also one-on-one sessions for extra hands-on training. No two sessions are the same since Open Options tailors training material to meet the system administrator’s specific needs.

“Back to school time is always a busy season for Open Options training, and since late August, we’ve found ourselves supporting schools on many levels,” said Sherinda Barrow, Director of Education Services at Open Options.

On a recent visit to the Denver area, the company took the “Open Options classroom” to a local community college that has DNA Fusion implemented across multiple campuses.

“The system user had already attended Administrator training in 2016 but felt they could benefit from some personalized training,” said Barrow. “The college put together a list of topics they wanted to cover so they could expand their DNA Fusion installation and take advantage of some of the unique features offered by the software.”

During the one-on-one training, the system user learned for the first time how to issue “override” cards, so that in the event of a lockdown, emergency first responders can enter through doors that have been locked. The new feature in DNA Fusion provides a more straightforward method for securing access points while still allowing access to specific cards that are used by first responders.

Interestingly, this training session also included the identification of a “ghost.” Barrow explained, “During the visit, a ghost event popped up, and the ‘ghost’ was quickly chased down to a door position sensor that had not been properly labeled.” Furthermore, when it was discovered during the training that the college was using an older version of DNA Fusion, a collaboration between Training and Tech Support supported the end-user customer to upgrade. “Open Options’ Technical Support team sat in the wings as the customer upgraded to the latest and greatest version of DNA Fusion, and the college is currently working with Open Options training to fine-tune their lockdown procedure,” added Barrow. “It is this kind of joint effort across departments to assist our customers that make Open Options an excellent team-oriented organization.”

No DNA Fusion, No Active Directory Integration, No Problem

To secure their schools, a large school district on the gulf coast of Florida could not take any chances with a migration to new, enterprise-level access control to replace their existing access control hodge-podge that ran on five separate servers. They needed assurance that the installation of DNA Fusion with Active Directory integration would go smoothly. The customer saw value in calling in Open Options’ Professional Services.

The school district had never used DNA Fusion, and they were concerned that the integration of DNA Fusion with Active Directory would be problematic. The person responsible for access control had no experience with DNA Fusion. They requested that Professional Services support them with the software configuration and rollout. No problem.

As a proof of concept (POC), the district required the installation of a pilot system at one of their schools, consisting of 34 access-controlled doors. Open Options' Professional Services was engaged to spend a full week on-site to assist in commissioning the system and configuring Active Directory (AD) integration. The district chose DNA Fusion for the enterprise-like capabilities they wanted for access control ̶ albeit, customized for a school district.

“The decision to bring in Professional Services was because it would provide a high level of assurance that DNA Fusion and AD integration would be installed and configured properly, as well as having an on-site resource to assist with any potential issues as they might arise,” said William Murphey, Professional Services Manager at Open Options. “Our team took on the project to travel to the customer's site and work for a week with them and the dealer installing the hardware to install DNA Fusion with AD integration.”

Open Options Professional Services personnel worked with the customer's IT team to configure the servers for installation. Once completed, the installation was carried out within the time allotted, including time for testing and troubleshooting the system configuration.

“By working with the customer in such a close manner, we were able to recommend best practices and configuration options for future sites,” said Murphey. “This led to the customer redesigning the planned hardware configuration for the remainder of the sites, as well as choosing to engage Open Options Professional Services for the upcoming 3 to 4 installations to ensure project success.”

In the end, thanks to the excellent experience with the Professional Services team, the school district decided to move forward with Open Options and DNA Fusion for the rest of their schools.