A major security project for any size of facility often requires the skills of highly trained professionals. When the security director or CSO decides to work with a third-party professional on a major project, what can he or she do to help ensure the project's success? I asked several seasoned security integrators to discuss this question. Their responses offer some interesting food for thought.
Many of the integrators I spoke with emphasized the importance of getting outside parties involved early in the process. This way, integrators and security consultants can work closely with the end user in determining the best approach to their security issues. Nick Zigayer, general manager with Frisco Bay Industries in St. Laurent, Quebec, said early communication is critical to a successful project. "The key in most successful projects is dealing with the end user at an early stage in their requirement-building process," Zigayer said. "We must develop a relationship in which our expertise can be used by the client to clearly understand what is and what is not feasible in a security project. In addition, we need to define what is a requirement and what is an added-but not absolutely vital-feature.
"If a clear performance outline or specification is obtained with absolute minimum requirements, a defined construction schedule and an approximate budget price, the end user has a clear expectation on paper that can be agreed upon between him and the security integrator." J. Matthew Ladd, president of The Protection Bureau in Exton, PA, stressed the importance of advance planning to smooth the entire installation process. It is important to know who has responsibility for what jobs, such as assigning IP addresses and port locations of network-based systems. "Regularly scheduled conference calls keep everyone on the same page," he said.
Another integrator, Lawrence Roy, manager of project coordinators in Frisco Bay's Central Canada region, added, "If the design is not well suited for the site or if the timing of the project is not realistic, then how can the project succeed? Lack of coordination on a construction project always leads to cost overruns and general dissatisfaction."
Christopher Wetzel, COO and co-founder of InterTECH Security in Warrendale, PA, said open and frequent communication between the integrator and the end user is another common thread in successful projects. "Jobs go smoothly when we have detailed drawings and a well-defined scope of work, shaped in coordination with the end users across the various business units involved and affected," he said. It's just as important for the end user to know and make clear which parties have responsibility for which aspect of the project, and to make sure all interested parties have the appropriate say in the process. Steve Morefield, president of First Line Security in Anaheim, CA, said he likes to see there is a buy-in and understanding from the company's IT department to avoid potential problems. "For instance, it's important that everyone has a clear understanding of how access systems and video affect the network," he said, explaining that these functions have bandwidth requirements that must be factored in to overall network usage.
Direct access to the decision makers is vital. "When you're not dealing directly with the decision makers and end users, everything gets filtered and edited by an intermediary," Morefield said. "Details get lost."
To ensure a successful project, Zigayer recommended having as few levels of intervention as possible. Requirements, expectations, communications and scheduling become next to impossible when several layers of intermediaries-such as general contractors and architects-are added between the end user and the integrator. The more levels of intervention, the harder communication becomes and the more difficult it is to meet the expectations of all parties involved.