Illustration by Stephanie Dalton Cowen
Alignment is in. Many cities, municipalities, corporations, and school systems are taking steps to align their physical security systems so that security programs across locations will be fully integrated.
The benefits of such a move are numerous. Uniformity across systems makes it easier for end users, and converged systems are easier to manage from operation centers. Moreover, having only one system makes maintenance and upgrades easier, and this can help provide long-term stability.
But achieving alignment is no easy feat. Navigating a physical security installation across several facilities can be a difficult undertaking; often, such a project includes wrangling a mish-mash of individual products to get them to function under one cohesive system. Alternatively, some take the approach of completely redesigning the physical security system so that it reflects current best practice design standards. Both paths can be difficult.
In addition, the potential pitfalls of attempting a unification project are numerous. What is the installation environment in each facility? Which key players need to be involved at each facility, and at what level of involvement? What type of network infrastructure must be in place to integrate the systems?
In hopes of avoiding pitfalls, many organizations will hire project managers and consultants to spearhead alignment projects. This type of management, however, is usually complex and unpredictable work. Thus, one of the most useful attributes a security practitioner can have is experience in project management.
Although there is no one roadmap for successful project completion, and despite all the caveats, most projects can be broken down into five stages. The main purpose of this article is to walk the reader through these stages, which experts sometimes refer to as "process groups." The five process groups are initiating, planning, executing, monitoring and controlling, and closing. For our purposes, the second process, planning, can be considered the design process, and the third process, executing, can be considered the installation process.