The complexity of security technology implementations demands a formal project management discipline to ensure success. More project managers in the security industry are pursuing formal qualifications such as CSPM or PMP. Systems Integrators are recognizing that a structured approach is required in order to deliver complex projects on time, on budget and in accordance with performance specifications.
Effective project management methodologies share certain common features such as clear scope definition and centralized control with specifically defined accountabilities for all necessary project activities.
The traditional linear approach to implementing a video surveillance and security system typically entailed several often disjointed activities involving several stakeholders, including security consultants, electrical and general contractors, integrator personnel and customer personnel. Much like a relay race, each completed segment is handed off to the next runner. This approach often results in a less than satisfactory implementation because of the increased potential for “dropping the ball” along the way due to the lack of centralized control and project management.
By contrast, the centralized control approach is a collaboration of all parties involved, with a professional project manager given the responsibility and authority to coordinate each component of the project to ensure the system is implemented correctly within specified timelines, scope of work and budget. Systems Integrators are uniquely positioned and qualified to fulfill this function over the entire scope of the project. The project manager becomes the focal point of the project, and ideally is involved in the project lifecycle from pre-sales engineering, technology selection and delivery.
The first step in this process is the clear definition of project parameters, including performance specifications, so that all parties understand the deliverables for the project. This can include factors such as system functionality, adherence to budget, internal control and building requirements. The difference between a well-executed implementation and chaos is often based on the initial understanding of the end user’s needs and the plans developed around those needs.
The process demands that the project manager coordinate and work with all the stakeholders to ensure, for example, that the correct technology and installation methods are deployed while meeting all applicable codes, requirements and certifications for the project. Good planning and coordination also ensures that power, HVAC and room requirements are designed to best accommodate the specified system components with contingencies for future system expansion. Close relationships with technology providers can provide strategic advantages in ensuring anticipated functionality and performance, as well as providing an integral resource for ongoing technical support.
As networking continues to gain traction for video surveillance, the demands for higher levels of integration with related systems like access control and Point-of-Sale (POS) continue to grow. A system integrator’s expertise in these technologies can help to establish parameters for a new system build or existing system revision to maximize interoperability for more comprehensive integrated operations, often with the lowest total cost of ownership.
System Integrators can help to bridge the gap between the client’s internal staff, most commonly the physical security and IT teams, by identifying critical issues and designing a solution that meets the needs of both groups. This might include a separate and dedicated network for video surveillance and security based systems, or the segregation of programming and operational functions between the two disciplines. For example, some clients may require that the IT staff controls all network related aspects, and that security management controls all functions related to video surveillance monitoring, access control and alarm and intrusion detection systems.
Standardization of key technology applications can help create simpler more robust systems that are easier to maintain, upgrade, expand and manage. This standardization can be driven by an owner established requirement, generally accepted industry standards, or the system integrator’s own internal controls.
By following these basic guidelines, systems integrators and their end user customers can be assured of a more comprehensive and successful system integration.