Who does an integrator usually work with on a job — is it Security, Facilities Management, someone else?
Olivares: Our experience in some of the local community college projects we have done is that we deal with the directors/managers of physical security. They understand how things work. We also work with their IT staff.
Fairbanks: The most successful deployments include the Facilities, IT, Student Services, HR, Procurement, Safety and Compliance Reporting functional representatives.
Beck: It depends on the school district or university, who is in charge of the project and what type of project it is.
Are there special kinds of equipment/technology for education as opposed to business offices, for example?
Olivares: Most of the equipment/systems in the education environment are similar to those used in the business office environment. Some more common items in the education environment are door lockdown systems, audible alarms throughout the campus, emergency phone call stations in parking lots, etc.
Beck: Not really — you will use a commercial grade system which is the same for all buildings.
Fairbanks: Agreed — the same technology is deployed in both markets.
How do you test the waters to see if your market actually wants the service?
Fairbanks: Meeting with the organization and uncovering their current and future plans.
Olivares: We are constantly looking for bid opportunities on the web from school district and college websites for their needs.
Beck: Letters, cold calling, references — but it depends on the project.
What are some dos and donts for the newbie?
Beck: Do design a good system. Don’t bring the project in so low that you cannot complete it or lose money on it. Do provide a good solid system with a good warranty. Do keep it simple and makes sure it works. Be comfortable and do not take on projects that are out of your comfort zone. Beware of bids or projects designed by people who do not understand our business. It is better to walk away from a potential project that is poorly designed or will not work.
Olivares: Like any other market, do not get your customer upset. If you want to continue to do business in the market and move on to larger higher education systems, you will need specific market experience with project references under your belt.
Fairbanks: Do invest time in understanding the organization’s culture, structure, needs and risk.