Professional Services

With growing pressures to make sure the job gets “done right the first time”, it is important to have the right partners to get results. Technology partners and consultants should offer the security of a professional organisation with broad industry experience and a deep fundamental understanding of the disciplines required for the job at hand. Finding the right organisation can be time consuming and you may not even find a company that has the applied knowledge you require. Ultimately your partner needs to be there for the long haul, a company that is strong in decision theory, shares in the responsibility of outcomes and is accountable for the solutions.

Our professional services may form part of our project offering, or stand alone, complementing your own organisations project team.

Experience is Invaluable

With a background in design and implementation, Parasyn have a delivery perspective on the end results and on achieving practical outcomes. We can make statements of fact by drawing on our experience in identifying and effectively managing development and execution risks. This starts from project conception.

Not everything can be anticipated; however most of the implementation pitfalls can be avoided if like experience is leveraged earlier in the project life cycle and if possible in the conceptual design stage.

Independent, at your Service

Our broad perspective allows existing infrastructure and systems to be reused and any new design to include your preferred suppliers and existing assets. We offer independent advice developed from working on many different platforms and technologies.

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Consultancy

Define what is important, prioritising what will make a difference and working out the “go forward” plan.

This may include, research, workshops, stakeholder engagement, auditing, product assessment, conceptual design, documentation development and developing sound recommendations.

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System Audits & Performance Evaluation

Assess and document software, hardware, electrical systems and design. Measure and analyse performance.

This may be part of our standard SLA routine checks, form part of a formal project deliverable or an important FEED activity for consultancy. Subject Matter Experts are selected to review the audit results and to develop actionable activities which may be including in report Findings or Recommendations.

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Requirements Development

Ask, listen, refer to standards and categorise functional design elements into a living document.

This is a rudimentary engineering activity which precedes design activities. The identified requirements are further referenced in test procedures to ensure all functional requirements are Inspected, Demonstrated or Tested prior to a system being transitioned or activated and then accepted for operational use.

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Technology Selection

Assess technology for suitability. “Proof Of Concept” test to reduce risk.

The assessment of technology may require testing if the product suite under is intended to be used close to its documented operational envelope or a new feature is being deployed. Our area of focus includes; dedicated control devices, IOT devices, instrumentation, advanced software applications, middleware software applications, data warehouses and client applications used for Industrial Automation, Enterprise Information Systems or Operational Intelligence. Technology Selection (or validation) is usually a very specialised task confined to senior developers or design engineers.

Project Services

Confidence comes from knowing that your infrastructure is supported by not just one engineer but a whole team. A team of minds with diverse backgrounds provides a wider perspective, enabling your organisation to get a deeper knowledge and appropriate skill base to develop the right solutions.

To give your project full attention, a Project Manager ensures that engineers have the tools, support, background knowledge and engineering skill to make it all happen.

We aim to save you time. You’ll know exactly what’s happening through regular contact with the Project Manager. We will regularly and formally report on our plans, achievements, issues, risks and the rolling project forecast, giving you peace of mind. Clockwork reporting ensures our team is on track and that you are warned of any hold points along the way.

With a full team of multi-skilled engineers at your fingertips, Project Managers align the most effective use of resources and give you access to the entire team as required.

To coordinate the success of a project, we evaluate customer requirements, agree to the expectations, report our activities and plans regularly and act promptly at all times.

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Project Management

Delivering project objectives and results through structured and accountable planning, scheduling and reporting

Our project management framework and experienced managers are key to delivering reliably to our brand promise. This is so routine and rudimentary that all our team always know what they are doing next meaning top priorities are clear, customer deliverables are published, and everyone knows what needs to be done to get things done on time. Every day this is reviewed just to make sure risks are mitigated, we are collaborating with our customers and everything is tracking as expected.

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Subcontractor Management

Coordination of selected partners to deliver the outcomes. Supervisory role as Principal Contractor

For complex projects which require additional services beyond our preferred areas of expertise, we invite service providers to join us. Either as the principle contractor or subcontractor, we understand that commercial requirements impact on the technical requirements. Our project managers and commercial managers establish the crucial baseline which so often makes or breaks multifaceted project delivery if out of balance.

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Systems Design

Systems, software and fabrication designs that you own for life. Managed design process.

Whether it is a formal Safety In Design process or extending an existing design, due diligence is essential for critical infrastructure systems. This safeguards our customers, our own people and our customers’ equipment which is so often in the public eye and politically sensitive in terms of operational integrity. Effective management of design leads to confidence and significant cost reductions when maintenance or enhancements must be carried out during the normal lifecycle of assets. This is less about a standard’s approach and more about content management, capturing and presenting essential information and the discipline of design management.

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Enterprise Systems Integration

Interfacing, software development, systems development, configuration management and knowledge transfer.

Every changing landscape of operating systems, device firmware and patching means that what worked before may not work in a new environment. Once upon a time, computer infrastructure systems were less complex than they are today, and the approach was to replicate the model that worked. In principle this continues to hold true, however user client requirements, unique cyber-security requirements and enterprise management practices now dictate how a system is to be designed and maintained. Due to this complexity, testing and ongoing support is significantly more important than it every was.   

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Transition and Migration Planning

Stakeholder planning, interface compatibility and operational support. Identify and manage constraints.

Transition and Migration Planning begins after conceptual design is formalised. Shaping how a system moves to operational status can significantly impact a design. How the OT team looks after a new or upgraded system may also impact a design. Getting all the relevant information into a formal transition management plan is an essential step to initiate smooth enablement no matter what the size.   

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Quality Testing

Control of the environment and staged testing to ensure integrity. Test procedures and report logs for certification.

The more complex a system or its sub components are, the more important testing is. Permutation of application and infrastructure configuration demands rigorous testing. Bold as this sounds, it is impossible to guarantee that something that has been done before will work the same in a new environment. The probability may be high, but none of us want to be the one who suffers disappointment because we omitted to test it thoroughly. On large and critical systems this usually equates to 3 points of testing for some functionality and the effective use of staging environments.  

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Electrical & Instrumentation

Hazardous Areas Inspections, Hazardous Electrical Area Audit, selection and procurement of instruments, electrical design, power and control cabling, installation, equipment and panel fabrication, managing electrical implementation and commissioning. Registered Electrical Contractor – compliant with AS3000.

This is the physical part of what we do. Although the supply of products and services in this domain are arguably a commodity, it is the aspect of systems design and gluing it altogether that remains a specialised task. The correct selection of components, procurement, manufacture, assembly and device configuration activities we frequently share with our customers or subcontractors or we do it inhouse.  

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Lifetime Support

Guaranteed support for breakdowns and scheduled works. Tailored maintenance and support services.

 Regular health checks, service request management, priority escalation, change management, performance reviews and customer service satisfaction reviews all shape a complete service arrangement. This may also include 24/7/365 breakdown support or at the other extreme a casual business hours arrangement to complement the customer’s own L1 or L2 support team.

Pricing

What does it cost for your services?

Our engineering rates range from $135 to $250 per hour. For Australia this is comparable to other organisations. For non-engineering services including panel fabrication, field install work etc, the rates are from $110 to $135 per hour, however this depends on the skill level. Rates can also depend on the certifications required, e.g, hazardous areas, experience and qualifications.

How do your rates compare with your competitors?

No matter how you look at it, it is challenging to compare rates between organisations. It is much easier to link a rate to an individual and this is more typical for “labour hire” arrangements. Some organisations discount their rates but add more hours to the job because they mainly operate using a labour contracting model, and for extended services the lower rates suites them because they are not taking responsibility for commercial control. This is more typical for arrangements where milestones are not in place. For milestone or outcomes-based work packages, higher rates may be used, using more targeted capability but generally less hours are assigned or costed. The general perception is that the same costs are assigned to the work package, however for any change to the contract, the customer pays a premium. In the case where the supplier/contractor is providing key personnel who are taking responsibility and managing risk, this hourly rate is clearly justified. Bundled in with the core service, they are likely providing better impact assessment and advice along the way.

What drives the price up?

The primary factor that drives up the price for Industrial Automation and Information Solutions is poorly defined requirements. Poorly defined requirements are likely to drive the price up if the agreement attached to the scope of works are rigid and inflexible. If the engagement has a flavour of “adversarial” management then this encourages contingency to be added to the price or by excluding and qualifying what is going to be provided. On the flip side, having too many requirements without specifying outcomes means the supplier may easily argue that anything that is not explicitly written down is not included. Unfortunately for end users, it can be challenging to assess good value for money when there are so many factors at play. Perhaps the best guide is to cross check value for money specifically with references. This should be tested for the primary contract with particular focus on what would occur in the event of contract changes or additions. This will provide a good indication about pricing transparency and the companies approach to changes.  

What helps keep the overall cost down?

Knowing your requirements and being clear about outcomes and how the outcomes are to be measured is a sure way to get the “right” value for money. The “right” value for money is not usually the lowest price, it’s about getting what you have paid for. The second most important strategy is to have a project manager who is active and dedicated on your team. They may not need to be full time; however, they must understand requirements management and apply fair and good governance. This will help contractors feel like they are being helped and it will keep them honest eliminating the undesired yet common situation of the Project Manager  overstepping their role and becoming responsible for the contractor’s performance.  

When a system is about to be deployed, it should be tested before going to site. Testing before commissioning creates a baseline (reference point) so that development issues don’t creep into commission activities. This is particularly important when the customer is paying for all commissioning on rates. It is an embarrassment to our industry when an engineer who does not test their work thoroughly first, and was paid for doing development work, is then paid a second time (on rates) for fixing up what should have been tested the first time. There are of course exceptions to the rule, because some process and field related inputs cannot easily be simulated “in the office”, however, these items can easily be identified on the test plans ahead of time and agreed to in the transition planning stage of the project. Transition planning is key to managing small and large technology projects. It is perhaps one of the most important risk reduction strategies to avoid blow outs and excuse making.  

See also:

https://www.parasyn.com.au/article/data-management-for-good-scada-design/

https://www.parasyn.com.au/article/preparing-for-the-systems-integration-experience/

Is Labour Hire better than Project Services?

Labour hiring engineers into a client’s team has its value. For Parasyn this approach is something we support from time to time to help our clients overcome a shortfall in resourcing or a particular skill. This is never a long-term engagement and is rare. There are a number of reasons we take a short-term approach to labour hiring. Firstly, the collaboration of a team of connected engineers who talk and share ideas every day is a very powerful way to multiply knowledge growth. Isolating an engineer at any one client for an extended period time diminishes not only the engineer’s ability to grow, it diminishes the whole team. Systems integrators and technology developers are generally on the cutting edge of new technologies. They work on many projects, implementing the latest versions of software, leveraging and using the latest hardware products. End users rely on their suppliers to have up to date knowledge and “bleeding-edge” experience. Being inside an organisation too long on labour hire means engineers lose the advantages of working on multiple projects, sharing ideas with their colleagues and the learning and development that comes inside a strong engineering team. Even working for a customer on rates on activities that are hard for the customer to define is different to seconding a person onto the client site on a semi-permanent basis. This may be a fantastic financial model for the contractor, but perhaps not a good strategy for staff retention and personal development. The above principle primarily applies to technology workers developing and implementing software systems.

What do you think about lowest price tendering?

Even though this was indirectly covered previously, the summary is, you get what you ask for. The price is technically determined by the client’s requirements or lack of requirements. If the right money is not on the table to do the job, the client is ill prepared to manage the contractor who likely does that many times over and knows how to exploit the customer. Even though it sounds terrible to quote “buyer beware” from legislation, a lowest price strategy is a dangerous approach that simply puts the contractor on notice to qualify their offering and subsequently have their own strategy to get paid for the work they do, even though the tender price offered may be insufficient to do the job correctly. It is what is not delivered because it is not written down which is of greatest concern.

How do you approach tenders which heavily weighted towards lowest price?

Generally, we will not offer proposals that create this conflict for our pricing methodology. We want our customers to be happy years after the initial project and that is not possible if we outsmarted them to win. To us this is not a competition. To us it needs to be a fair exchange.  

Do you sell vendor products?

Yes, all the time. Often the price is more competitive than the RRP because we sell more product.

Why is pricing usually cheaper via a partner?

The cost of selling is high for any organisation. When a partner sells products as an agent for a vendor they bear the cost of selling. The vendor offers the reseller a discount for that effort. When existing partners are already working with a client doing work, sometimes the cost of selling is less, therefore they may be willing to sacrifice some margin as good will. This may not be possible if the customer asks for design work and a lot of investigation before a sale is made. This preparatory work has to be funded by someone. Its either the client paying for it through doing their own engineering, they are paying someone else to do the preparatory design or they are paying higher margins on the product. Expecting vendors to provide advice doesn’t create an equitable outcome and only encourages margin recovery at some later stage.

Can you expect to continue to see discounts after a major project supply?

No, don’t plan for this. The overhead costs are amortised across a large project with dedicated resources committed for a period of time. A partner can offer discounts which are attractive on a per event basis but in the greater scheme of things is quite small. It’s all about economies of scale. If you are buying bits and pieces from industry, you set yourself up as an unwanted customer if the customer penny pinches too much. Sometimes suppliers discuss end users and who to be aware of! Don’t be one of them.

What does the perfect customer look like?

Is the customer with an open cheque book ideal? No, because something bad is likely to happen to one or both parties. Also, a customer knowing exactly what they want is not necessarily the ideal customer either. If the customer knows exactly what they want, one has to question why don’t they just do it themselves? The beauty of customers who ask questions and work with suppliers is they demonstrate a willingness to discover and share their thinking about what is important to their organisation. It is this understanding (the business drivers) that should be linked to the work package metric that is used to measure the outcomes. An understanding, fair, enquiring but firm customer is ideal as this helps both parties deliver against their promises. This is a win-win outcome.