Problems on projects can occur or become exaggerated when the chain of communication breaks down, he said. "Examples in the past have shown end users becoming upset that we have not completed required tasks-tasks they didn't realize were delayed because of another party in the project who did not communicate this information to everyone else," Zigayer said.
"For instance, an end user gets upset that we have not installed readers. We would have to explain to them that their building contractor had not actually put up any walls yet on which to install readers. A contractor gets upset that we have not put an access system in operation. We would have to explain that the end user had not given the database to us so that we could actually program the access system. The issue in these examples was lack of communication either up or down the proper chain of command and no direct link between the integrator and the end user. This results in frustration on all levels."
What to Look for in a Consultant
Many security directors hire an outside security consultant to serve as overall manager on their security system project. The integrators I interviewed said they are comfortable working with security consultants, but they urged end users to ensure they select a well-qualified individual.
Frisco Bay's Zigayer offered the following advice. "I believe companies should understand that the term 'security consultant' is not necessarily specific enough to decide on their exact needs," he said. "Many ex-policeman and ex-security guards refer to themselves as security consultants. They may be quite competent at defining exact physical security requirements, but they may not have the technical skills to fully understand implementing an electronic security system.
"The same can be said for ex-technicians or electricians who refer to themselves as consultants. Their forte may be in understanding all technical details of electronic security. However, this does not mean that they are able to build a document and define requirements that can answer the security needs of an end user."
Mark Ohno, marketing manager for MAC Systems in Canton, MA, said a superior consultant can match desires and needs to technology and financial abilities. "A good consultant should have the people skills and self confidence to manage a diverse group of people with passionately conflicting agendas and maneuver them into cooperating with a security implementation that is both practical and is designed to meet the goals of the institution," Ohno said.
In summary, Zigayer said, end users need to understand the person's exact background, his skill/competency set, and they need to examine references on similar projects previously handled by the consultant.
Security integrators' ultimate goal is customer satisfaction. By working closely with the client in an atmosphere marked by good communication, clear objectives and end user involvement, excellent project results can be achieved.
Ron Waxman is president of Montreal-based Frisco Bay Industries-a member of SecurityNet, a network of North America's top systems integrators. He has been in the industry for the past 28 years. He is a member of ASIS and Canasa, as well as a current member of the Pelco President's Dealer Advisory Council. Mr. Waxman has served on the Casi Rusco advisory board and was vice president of SecurityNet.