Building a winning project team for physical security installations

ASIS session to cover new challenges, best practices


In building a winning project team for physical security installations, lead project managers must carefully assess the skills of the project team to insure that proper representation of stakeholders is present, with a clear delineation of the roles and responsibilities of a project. In addition, there are several cultural, technical, process methodologies, and integration strategies that must be understood for the project to be successful.

Ben Jakubovic, Steven Oplinger, Charlie Pierce, and Darnell Washington, presented an educational session covering the ins and outs of “building a winning project team” during the ASIS conference in Chicago last month. The session discussed some of the many new challenges that physical security project managers face regardless of whether it is a new security project, renovation or upgrade. The rapidly evolving landscape of change existing within the commercial, industrial, and IT sectors (cloud computing, mobile devices, big data, and wireless communications) have placed new requirements on project management teams to understand a new set of terminology, best practices, and skill sets.

With paradigm shifts in technology taking place within the physical security community, new learning and training requirements are needed for both physical security and information security professionals to grasp unfamiliar concepts, terminology, and regulatory requirements affecting the project. Building a winning project team requires that key factors be addressed to ensure a smooth and successful integration of physical and logical security technologies.

During this transition, project management teams from physical security and information technology must now collaborate in ways never before imagined. Skill sets and cross functional roles need to be identified to mitigate vulnerable security gaps in the system and to ensure that project control is maintained from a cost and resource perspective.

Security project managers must now learn new technologies such as Power-over-Ethernet (PoE), ports and protocols, routing, switching, and Internet protocol subnets and gateways. Conversely, information security project managers must now learn how to understand camera frame rates, bandwidth, edge device analog-to-digital communications systems integration, wiring requirements, and regulatory requirements and codes for life safety communications equipment.

Today’s winning project teams must establish a new foundational level of knowledge between physical and IT security project teams, including terminology and acronyms used in the project. Access control, for example, has a limited definition in the physical security community whereas the information security community uses a broader interpretation including authentication, authorization, and accountability as part of its reference.

Lead project managers must ensure that the project team is reading from the same sheet of music and must be accountable to select the proper team where each member is confident that their contribution is critical to the success of the project. A one size fits all approach will fail miserably.

The session focused on the role of the lead project manager’s responsibility to build a winning project team, mitigate the pitfalls in establishing a project team and define some of the project management concepts that include the concept known as Ockham’s Razor, six sigma, critical path analysis, and the new role of cross functional project teams.

The goal that is outlined when dealing with cross functional project teams is to understand the diversity of subject matter expertise of the project stakeholders. Clearly defining terms, skipping technical terms at non-technical meetings, checking for questions at the end of each discussion topic, and using plain English to convey concepts at elementary levels will ensure that clear understanding is achieved by all project participants.

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