The Daily Grind of Systems Integration

So I asked an integrator; “Hey buddy, how’s work?” He said “it’s a grind”. So, I asked a few others; they all described it in different words but essentially the same manner. Not able to leave that alone, I asked each of them why is that. Here are their responses:

Buddy #1: Because I’m sick of not getting paid and everyone using my money except me. Receivables have become a game for the owners and general contractors. It’s very unfortunate, thankfully I have been around a long time so I see the trick they play and know how to circumvent them. I worry for the new companies and those operating job to job.

Buddy #2: Because I can’t stand these darn (not exact wording) contracts. It is ridiculous for me to sign a contract with the terms and conditions and the onerous penalties that are being required of us. I lose sleep every night worrying about what I might have agreed to that was in the fine print.

Buddy #3: I can’t get anyone to work. I hire all these super smart kids and they find one reason after the other to be late or gone right when I need them most. What happened to the work ethic of our generation? I’m afraid to reprimand them, what if they all quit?

Buddy #4: I feel like I’m just trading dollars. Our margins suck and by the time I pay wages and benefits, we are lucky to break-even on most jobs. What’s worse is the fear of new taxes. When I started in business it was simply a choice of paying around 28% in either personal or corporate taxes. Now the tax burdens reaching almost 40% make me wonder if it’s even worth it.

Buddy #5: I run a company that I’m not really sure what we will be doing in 3-5 years. I hate not knowing what the future looks like, what my employees should be trained on or what our customers will need us for down the road. I want a roadmap and then I can build a plan. I don’t know how to lead others when I can’t present them with a plan and then manage to set goals and expectations.

How’s that for asking five of our most successful systems integrators how work is going?

Do you see what’s going on here? The business of systems integration, being a systems contractor, or whatever we are, has become a battle. We need to pump some life and enthusiasm into this. Business has to be both fun and financially rewarding. Lately it’s been neither for most of us. We can turn this around with the proper business training and by developing new skills. See the thing is, we are technically well-prepared, just not prepared businesswise. That’s all changing as we are heads-down focused on getting our members to be better prepared for battle. Then it will become fun and profitable once more.

I also found it interesting that only a few years ago the question would be answered by citing a myriad of technical or sales issues. I used to hear where a particular product or system type kept failing, delivery issues, unable to find new technicians, in need of qualified sales people, etc.

Has your job become a part of the daily grind? How so? CW

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