Managing Security Projects

It’s a new day for security professionals. For Bill Jacobs, corporate security manager at Cisco Systems, Security by Design chairman Ed Chandler, and many others of their profession, this new day dawned as the Security Industry Association (SIA), an Alexandria, Va.-based trade group, introduced the Certified Security Project Manager (CSPM) program earlier this year.

The program reflects the growing technical complexities of security projects as well as the diversity of people involved in design and decision-making. Jacobs informed me that “first and foremost, a security project manager has to understand client needs. They need good listening skills, interpret concepts, understand the technology and be able to communicate clearly.”

He added, “A certified project manager must gauge a client’s security philosophy and design a solution that balances risk tolerance, with financial allocations.”

The SIA worked closely with Enterprise Performance Consulting (EPC) to develop the three-part certification program, which aims to promote professional excellence for project managers in the security industry.

“The program will empower project managers with the tools, skills and knowledge to successfully manage their projects,” said Nadim Sawaya, president of EPC.

Recertification part of plan

Participants will receive 40 contact hours of specialized training, as well as 20 hours of self-study in areas such as estimating and financial aspects of security projects; contracting law; life safety codes and risk management; and security video and access control systems design and application.

Chandler is also committed to the program. “There’s a desperate need to add to the skill sets of the project manager. The world has changed over the years. With a new group of high-powered general contractors, they really need to understand how to get things done right, to resolve issues and provide effective solutions in the field,” he said.

Both Jacobs and Chandler see advantages in having a certified security project manager at work.

“As an end user, my expectations are to have people engaged on the team, working on the same goal and with a level of competency that I don’t need to question. A person with a CSPM accreditation will have that professional knowledge base and automatically have the respect and confidence to be able to engage as the client’s liaison,” Jacobs pointed out.

Chandler added, “For systems integrators, there also is a competitive advantage. Having a certified project manager will make each job more profitable, save money; there will be less mistakes and better presentation of information at the right time.”

Collaboration among all people involved in a security project is critical.

“Today’s technologies are IT centric and the CSPM needs to be aware of those elements. Security and IT are still separate business functions but systems cannot be designed and/or implemented without the buy-in and support from both organizations. The CSPM may become the ultimate bridge between the internal organizations,” Jacobs concluded.

For more information on the Certified Security Project Manager program, contact Jay Hanger, SIA’s director of education, at (703) 683-2172, e-mail or visit

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