Know My Business, Please
Forget the technology. Disregard the price tag. That’s right. When it comes to a solid, effective partnership between enterprise security leaders and their integrators, end users seek what their business needs while integrators understand the specific of their client’s business. And wrap trust and clear communications around that.
Of course, Darrel Parker, assistant trial courts executive officer at the Santa Barbara County (Calif.) Courthouse, knew he needed a certain kind of security. But he knew even better his community and culture and his building’s historic role and surrounding environment. And so did his system integrator. The outcome was an application of technology in such a way as to meet all those requirements.
• Appreciate ever-changing elements of the business – the economy, budgets, and stakeholders.
• Match future planning to the enterprise’s calendar – some go six months out, some go three years out.
• Trust your partner, thanks to prior work, colleague recommendations and other ways.
• Build and always use clear channels of communications.
• Create and follow through on detailed, deadline sensitive project management.
• Provide premium customer service - quick response with quotations and on-site service.
• Demonstrate technical ability in design.
• Demonstrate the technical ability of programmers and service technicians.
• Maintain a personal connection in the relationship.
• Understand and share a roadmap between the enterprise and the integrator.
• Match levels of integrator technical and project management expertise with current and future end user needs.
So where does cost and that bag full of leading edge products and systems come to play? Those elements are there but need to come after – and more easily – then the basics.
Establish Evaluation Process for New TechIt is important and part of my own business to keep up with technology, admits Clancy, who has a formalized evaluation process that includes carrying three or so sources from each tech category in bringing technologies to his clients. Depending on the size of the installation and type of client, Clancy can count on the involvement of a security executive’s IT department and IT technology and infrastructure. But, at the end of the day, the security professional has the best idea of what he or she needs.
For Randy Dinger, vice president at ID Consulting Solutions in Boise, Idaho, it takes a lot of face time in a personal relationship to make partnerships work. I have to experience what the security professional is experiencing. It’s that crucial understanding that makes a difference, he notes. The firm specializes in certain areas such as airports. So that means staying up to date with TSA and Homeland Security along with new trails they are blazing, adds Mike Ahl, ID Consulting Solutions’ director of security.
Handshake Still WorksBill Doherty, president of Security Install Solutions of Northglenn, Colo., has much in common with Dinger. He sees “partnership plus” in concentrating on sectors and doing your homework when it comes to technology he will eventually bring to enterprise security leaders.
When it comes to the technology, he says he relies on manufacturers, distributors and direct partners and constantly use their training offerings. Among clients, one is deep into various types of cards for identity management so IT knowledge and involvement is needed. IT has come a long way, he notes. Now the IT folks are in the room. It’s helpful from a tech perspective and from budget, too, as he notes that often, the IT budget is larger and there is the opportunity for sharing.
Both Long Term and Project at HandMirroring his integrator colleagues around the country and their buyer requirements, Oakley’s firm has a defined process for project management, which emphasizes a long-term relationship approach as well as the project at hand. On his wish list to help clients includes advancements in standards and open architecture platforms will enable clients to extend the life of existing technology while upgrading systems on a phased basis.
For Ron Oetjen of Intelligent Access Systems, Raleigh, N.C., customer service is that bridge between the integrator and end user. But he also concurs with Oakley when it comes to the impact of IT, especially in his critical infrastructure and healthcare business.
Think Like the End UserMindset is on the mind of David Shelton, president, D/A Central, Oak Park, Mich. There’s an old saying in police work, think like the criminal, he says. Likewise, the integrator needs to put himself in the mindset of the end user and his or her threats. Watch the employee, visitor and customer flow. Where are people coming from and lingering? Shelton sees more clients using security tools for running other parts of their operation for greater buy-in and return on investment. It also makes business sense to step outside the box. When the Detroit Public Schools closed some of their schools, they feared vandalism and metal theft. It placed in technology from Videofied and there have been more than 60 arrests, says Shelton.
Mass Notification, the Integrator, and YouEnterprise security leaders, especially those at critical infrastructures, schools and colleges, hospitals and in local and state government agencies, now face the need to update and upgrade their mass notification and emergency communications systems. The assignment not only stresses the partnership between end users and integrators but also can bring IT staff and third party telecommunications service firms to the table.
Thomas Condon, senior consultant/solutions manager at SDI System Development Integration, Chicago, has some valuable thoughts on the technology and its purchase and implementation.
• Integration – More clients ask for integration to physical security information management (PSIM) systems and other similar systems. For example, at the writing of this column, SDI is designing a security command center and technologies for one of the largest airports in the world, and they want PSIM integrated with mass notification. This provides a level of situational awareness that is impossible to achieve manually. This integration extends the capabilities of PSIM beyond the organization into the public or outside agencies, making it even more effective.
• SaaS solutions – Because mass notification implementations can be complex, some organizations have chosen a completely outsourced, externally-hosted solution (application service provider). There are benefits, including low initial cost, faster implementation, and flexible scalability. However, there are potential hazards, including higher total cost of ownership (TCO) and inability to customize or integrate with contact lists inside a firewall. A thorough needs analysis and TCO analysis will help discover which option is ideal.
• Hybrid incident management, mass notification – Some products that focus on incident management are starting to incorporate mass notification functionality. While these are not the large-scale, robust systems that would be used by a city, for example, they are usually good for notifying staff within the organization to coordinate response during emergencies.
There are concerns in supporting infrastructure. Aside from the mass notification system itself, the next most important implementation consideration is the phone lines that it will use. They will place an extreme load on the telephone infrastructure, and may overload it. Before implementing, it is important to ensure the following:
• Sufficient line capacity – When planning for an implementation, understand the call load that will be expected for every kind of emergency event. Many organizations require additional phone lines, which can affect cost and schedule.
• A reliable provider – Some phone providers are more reliable and have better capability to meet the high demands of emergency events; check on the provider’s reserve capacity and reliability standards.
• Phone line testing – Just because you get a dial tone does not mean that your phone lines are robust enough. Load testing will reveal faults that normal usage will not.
• VoIP – Some Voice over Internet Protocol systems can have difficulty with some mass notification system products; testing is necessary before implementing this scenario.