Using the Labor sku functionality in D-Tools has created a method to sequentially build your programming allowance into your project as you create the bill of materials for your proposal.  We use a series of programming skus as accessories to the various devices in our D-Tools database that makes this process very efficient.  This is the solution we have found to allow for labor from multiple phases to be specified to a single product.  (For example: an in-wall touch panel gets installed in the trim phase, which requires labor in that phase.  Using a labor line item as an accessory to the panel allows me to specify labor for 2 phases of installation).

Create a Labor Sku

D-Tools has a special type of database item for this scenario.

1.      Add a new product to the database from the “Labor” category. You should see something like this:

Notice the Price tab has changed to say “Labor Price”

2.      Set its Mfr. to “Your Company” and its name to “Programming 1” or “Programming Labor 1”.
3.      Check the “Variable” option on the left.
4.      Set the Labor Hrs to 1 Hour and the phase to Programming.
5.      There is a check box option that allows you to use the labor cost & selling price based on phase.  This is   recommended unless you are using a different rate for a special circumstance.  Note: If you do not use this check box, the labor factors will not calculate (Management, design & miscellaneous labor).
6.      Now you can add additional programming items with different labor amounts (2 hours, 3 hours, 8 hours, etc…).

Using Labor Skus as Accessories
Your first step toward using labor skus as accessories is to meet with your in house programmer and determine what levels of programming each type of device will receive.  Break out all the various types of equipment that will add to the program’s complexity (ex: source equipment, receivers, surround processors, touch panels, remotes, keypads, displays, etc…).  For each type of equipment determine what the typical level of programming should be to integrate that piece of equipment into your program.

DVD player – 2 hours
Small touch panel – 4 hours
Medium touch panel – 6 hours
Surround receiver – 3 hours

Once you have determined this “schema” for your programming allowances, it is time to add the labor items as accessories to the various devices in your database.  For each type of item add its appropriate labor sku as an accessory.

The Next Level – Cooperation with Outsourced Programmers

Many dealers and some programming companies are taking this concept to the next level by using the programming skus to specify programming labor from an outsourced provider.  This allows them to build a proposal for programming without having to call up the programmer every time they need a quote; making everyone’s life easier!

“Once we have established a relationship with a customer and have worked on a few jobs together, I am able to get a feel for their system design style and overall requirements for programming on their typical jobs.  This allows me to create a series of programming items for their D-Tools database so they can include my programming services in their D-Tools quote, including their markup on my price,” says Robert Kirby of MagmaSoft, a Crestron Authorized Independent Programmer, (CAIP) based in San Diego, CA.

If you are using an outsourced programming service, communicate with your service provider about the abilities of D-Tools software to help you more efficiently estimate the programming for your jobs.  Work with them to establish typical labor rates for programming the various devices in a system such as sources, control devices, displays, processors, etc…  BY establishing these “average” labor rates you will be able to establish a programming budget for your proposal.

About Media Environment Design, Inc.
Media Environment Design, Inc. (MED), founded in 1999 and based in San Diego, CA, provides a wide range of services to dealers in the systems integration industry.  MED has trained and implemented hundreds of integration companies with D-Tools software.  MED exclusively provides D-Tools regional and onsite trainings for D-Tools, Inc., and is the creator of MIT (an unlimited access training solution for D-Tools).  MED is also a certified reseller for Tigerpaw software.  Our services are designed to help integrators elevate their businesses and to help them become more efficient, effective and profitable. It is our mission to make your business better.  For more information, contact MED at (760) 434-9040, e-mail at or visit MED online at .