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Buddy Check FTW

Integrators have plenty of opportunities to ensure each other’s work is shipshape.

Summer will be here before we know it. Hot weather months always elicit fond memories of weeks spent at Henson Scout Reservation during my youth. During check-in, we all marched down to the pool for our swim check. The counselors quickly sorted us into neat little buckets — non-swimmer, beginner, and swimmer. Each of us received a paper tag colored in with red and blue marker denoting our level of prowess while being directed to hang it around a free peg on the aptly named “buddy board.” Each time we went to swim, we grabbed our tag and moved it to the other side of the board along with one of our friends. After jumping in the pool, the lifeguard would blow a whistle every 15 minutes or so and scream out “buddy check!” You’d grab hold of your friend’s arm and hold it high. If anyone took too long to find their buddy, the lifeguards would cast out the offending Scout to live in shame for the rest of free swim.

Buddy-checking work
Getty Images

Buddy-checking exists all over the place and is especially visible during activities like skydiving, flying, and firefighting where life safety is a top priority. Before jumping out of a perfectly good airplane, buddies check each other’s gear to make sure nothing is amiss. It’s easy to stay consistent with buddy-checking when the stakes are high and gear failure can result in death. What about other parts of life where the consequences aren’t quite as severe?

Also by Henry Clifford: Upsell FTW

Buddy-checking opportunities inside CI businesses are plentiful. Integrators have a lot of opportunity for ensuring each other’s work is shipshape, but it requires commitment, buy-in, and a culture where these behaviors are positively reinforced and praised publicly.

Here are some common CI buddy check points:

  1. Sales and System Design — A talented system designer will constructively challenge ideas from sales that won’t work. These “fail-on-paper” moments are tremendously valuable and can keep expensive mistakes from happening in the field. Passionate salespeople can quickly check profit margin and mix targets to make sure the system designer didn’t forget about the bottom line during the engineering phase.
  2. Sales and Project Management — Amazing project managers are worth their weight in gold and will make sure a scope of work has enough labor sold for the project so the job doesn’t get upside down. A solid project handoff meeting is the ultimate buddy check. Both sides get to explore the project together and uncover any issues with the scope before work begins.
  3. Project Management and Installation — Top-notch installers know how long certain activities take or when unforeseen problems behind the walls will snarl a job. Walking the job before work begins provides a great back-and-forth dialog between the project manager and installation professionals to visualize the project and make sure any promised deadlines are achievable.
  4. Installation and Service — Top integrators know that handing off a system from installation to service (commonly referred to as commissioning) is a great way to buddy-check the final product. When installers schedule a handoff meeting with service, the service manager gets a chance to run through final checklists to make sure the system is ready to be managed by our team and not about to turn into a “go back” nightmare.

There are many opportunities to buddy check in our personal, professional, and family lives. It sounds easy but can be tough to sustain beyond the initial fire of commitment.

What are you doing to implement buddy check systems in your business?

Stay frosty, and see you in the field.