Take Control: In-house Production Services

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Have you ever wondered if your organization was achieving the maximum potential for your physical security systems, or if you were just getting by? There are many moving parts in the security environment for today’s corporate security managers, and none more complex or dynamic than the management of their security systems.  With the constant changes in technology, it is nearly impossible to keep systems current.  Most organizations rely heavily on their security integrators and consultants to support their systems’ operations and development.  Without internal resources, those are necessary partners.  Even with a strong technical understanding of security systems managers are not able to achieve many of their development goals. There are several key factors in achieving that control that I will be writing about: Vision, Resource Partnerships, Integration, and In-house Production Services. This article focuses on the concept and benefits of developing your own Production Services.

First, let me say that this is not a new concept and I am not the originator. This approach requires a lot of planning, promoting and commitment, but organizations have been doing this for years at various levels and in most cases have been extremely successful. The primary benefits of this approach are increased control over project outcomes, cost savings, and risk reduction. The most successful in-house programs are achieved with C-Suite buy-in and through an enterprise approach. C-Suite support is important for effective development and requires a strong definition of objectives and clear justification with a tangible ROI. An enterprise approach incorporates the strengths of other departments to achieve maximum efficiencies. For example, where construction activities are managed by the Facility Service Department, a strong partnership should be developed to ensure that security design standards are incorporated into all projects. With today’s security systems becoming more IT centric, it is imperative to develop a partnership with the organization’s IT Department and leverage their strengths in infrastructure, server management and cyber-security support. In other words, an enterprise approach does not duplicate the services that another resource may provide. I’ll talk more about these in other writings. For organizations that manage their own Security Operations activities, this should be a key partnership for the Production Division, ensuring the effectiveness of security systems needed by Operations.

In effect, developing In-house Production Services is much like starting a security integrator company, but where the business is already established. Where this branch of service fits in the departmental landscape depends on the makeup of your organization. The two primary activities of the Production division are Service and Construction with potential for a third discipline of Research and Development. I am not dismissing the possibility of separating Service and Construction under different departments. However, since the primary objective of this development is to create more autonomy for the Security operations, that result would be better realized under the control of the Security Director.

With first-hand experience, I strongly recommend creating a Production Manager position to lead this group. The Production Manager would work with current practices, identify where and how the new activities would be implemented, and oversee them once established. Finding an experienced individual will be key in minimizing your involvement for this effort.  In this position more than any of the others to follow, the adage of “find good help and let them do their job” will pay long-term dividends.  After that, it may be beneficial to concentrate on the initial development of either Service or Construction since it is always challenging to start up new services and hire new positions within any organization. Which one you start with can either be selected by the greatest need, or the easiest to implement. It also fits that the Production Manager might be responsible for Research and Development of the organization’s security systems initiatives, drawing input from their Construction and Service staff.

At this point, let me inject that this topic is not to negate the importance of Consultants and Integrators. They are still a critical resource in implementation and management of your security systems. The extent of those responsibilities and activities you take on depends entirely on your situation. Again, the focus of this approach is to gain control and autonomy in the development, implementation and support of your security systems.  As you adjust your engagement with your consultants and integrators, it will be important to work with those teams to identify new processes and expectations.  Documenting and communicating tasks and responsibilities for each party will build the Production Division’s credibility and effectiveness.

Before you start developing the Production Division activities, it will be important to establish internal communication paths for each of the disciplines with other departments and begin working with all those affected to identify the planned changes. As you do, you will learn the needs and dependencies they have, which in turn will help guide how you develop your services. For example, identify how service requests are currently managed within your organization and where the different contact points are. Begin communicating with those parties that there will be new processes and contacts for reporting issues. In relation to construction projects, work with your Facility Services Department to identify how they develop projects and where they would engage with the security design activities.

For the Construction Activities, the primary position you will hire would likely be a Security Systems Engineer. You would ideally find a candidate with established experience from a security integrator or consulting firm. The one position may be sufficient to manage those activities, depending on the size of your organization, frequency and size of projects. This discipline will be responsible for engaging at key points in design and construction projects to ensure that the organizations security standards are implemented properly. They would assist in the creation of drawings and specifications related to security and assist Project Managers through the construction project for security activities. As a project is completed, they would coordinate testing and commissioning of the security systems, end user training, and hand-off to the Service group.

For the Service Activities, I recommend that you start with a Service Coordinator position. Again, the ideal candidate would have experience from the security industry, as they will likely be triaging service requests to identify the best response. Under that position, you would begin hiring Security Technicians to carry out the day to day security service needs of the organization. Again, the number of technicians you employ will be determined by the demand and amount of control you wish to take on. With an experienced Service Coordinator, you may be able to hire less experienced technicians and provide on-the-job training. Service activities would be delegated to IT as related to software or infrastructure, in-house technicians, or contracted services as determined by the Service Coordinator.

There are other aspects of the In-house Production Services development that will help to increase your effectiveness and depth of service. It will be important to develop communication tools for use by user groups who will depend on these services. For Service, you will want to establish a dedicated phone number and email for service requests and coordination. Also, it will be important to establish a ticketing system that can be used for requesting, managing and tracking service requests. This could be an in-house solution or an external service. Your IT Department may already have a product that could be segmented for your use. Another critical resource to the Production Division is a fully developed test lab environment that mirrors the organization’s infrastructure and security systems. This resource will allow new product testing and evaluation, testing of software and firmware upgrades prior to implementation, and off-line training capabilities. Working with your IT Department to create this environment will provide benefits for them as well as the Security Department.

Obviously, all of this is easier said than done, but when implemented effectively your In-house Production Service will result in on-going benefits that produce a strong, unified approach to security systems management. With upper management support, enterprise partnerships and a well-developed Production team, you can be confident in the direction of your organization’s security systems development and management.

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