Last month’s column that touched on rough economic times and technology that can help extend the value of an existing access control system. As the impacts of the current economic turmoil continue to be felt by security departments, some security practitioners have experienced a “second hit” on their security technology programs: downsizing within the IT department. This has brought an unexpected wrinkle to their efforts to collaborate with IT regarding their physical security technology.
Two examples illustrate the challenge.
Q: What impacts have the economic situation had on your company’s security program?
A:I tried to arrange a meeting with my systems integrator and a network designer from the IT Department, for network design planning. IT sent a database administrator! That was the only person they had available.
— Security Director, Global Manufacturer
A: We have been working to connect our Security LAN to the corporate network. My security tech specialist has gotten himself up to speed on our networking requirements, and now we wanted to find out what IT requirements we would have to comply with. The IT Department sent us a help desk person because after the workforce reduction, everyone is over-tasked — especially the network and IT security folks.
— Security Manager, Major Manufacturer
This hit home for me because I had a similar experience on a project. My client’s IT group had been severely impacted by their workforce reduction. The person IT had sent to us was not familiar with the corporate network or the computer and security requirements that we needed to comply with on the upcoming project. Although she didn’t have the technical expertise expected, she turned out to be a very smart and practical person, whom I think will be a valuable ally for Security going forward.
Her view is that her company needs her to do whatever is required to keep IT going and doing its job, regardless of how much learning this requires on her part. Her IT colleagues are now operating in a highly collaborative mode. They are networking more and reaching out to others through the local chapters of the associations they belong to — such as the International High Technology Crime Investigation Association (HTCIA); the Information Systems Security Association (ISSA); the Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA); and Women in Technology International (WITI).
Their common intention is for the IT group to become a formidable team within the company, one known for a no-nonsense approach to getting the job done “right and fast.” I commented that this attitude was quite in contrast to the complaints I generally hear about lack of resources and being over-tasked. I characterized it as polite low-key whining. She said, “Are you kidding? I have the best career opportunity ever. My company needs us and we’re going to shine!” Dedication and teamwork — those are definitely two good ingredients for success.
She and the security tech specialist are now a dedicated cross-functional team of two, who are working to get themselves the knowledge they need to carry on effectively.
This was very inspiring and made me happier than ever that I’m part of the team from ASIS International that is producing a one-day Sunday workshop in September in Los Angeles, entitled “Safely Putting Your Security Systems onto the Corporate Network” (see the sidebar for details). This is the perfect opportunity to get one person from Security and one from IT on the same page for security technology.
The workshop provides two take-home guidance documents that contain collaboration strategies and steps-to-take — one for the IT department and one for the security department — to help them smoothly and rapidly achieve success together. Material will be provided in printed form (binder) and on a USB stick.