Systems integrators often end up taking the blame for any problems that arise after a project. But the real problem may lie elsewhere.
Government projects like city surveillance are important to security systems integrators. They are large-scale, reasonably funded, and can increase brand value. Several research agencies tracking developments across the physical security market also highlight public projects would continue to remain a major driver of growth for the industry.
However, several challenges make government projects difficult. Let’s face it, many government entities lack the kind of accountability a private company may have. Government agencies also tend to look for bidders who quote the lowest price and have inexperienced people creating the specifications.
Now a consultant points out the most crucial problem that hampers the successful implementation of a government project like city surveillance.
What’s the problem with government projects?
A common trend seen in public projects is systems integrators are blamed for any problems are arise after implementation. People question the qualifications of the integrator, their knowledge, and skill. But in reality, the problem may not have come up because of the integrator.
Yes, the integrator should be qualified to install, program, and service the equipment they are providing, as well as be versed in the many ways the information will be transmitted. But there is another more significant issue that needs to be addressed.
“The biggest issue I found when getting these Request for Proposals (RFP) from government entities was the lack of design effort that was done upfront,” explains Jim Townzen, consultant at SRMC
. “Too often the specification provided to the integrators was created by a group of individuals from within the organization who do not have the required experience or knowledge of the products available, and the specification ends up with holes.”
These holes create contention throughout the project when integrators start implementing per the specifications, eventually making it clear that the end user has a different idea of what they asked for. Also, the end user leaves the specifications open to any product instead of doing the upfront work to evaluating one product or even multiple products that will meet their requirements.
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What is the solution?
There are many reasons that prompt government entities to take the lowest price. But the problem with having inexperienced individuals creating the specifications and then requiring the lowest price is that contractors will provide you exactly what you asked for.
This, in turn, always leads to change orders and fingers being pointed at the integrator. This process should be changed if the end user seeks a different result. How can this be done?
“My recommendation would be to hire a qualified security consultant that can work with the end user to identify requirements and then create a specification that can provide a level playing field for integrators to provide a response to,” Townzen explains. “Secondarily, government agencies should get away from the archaic method of selecting the lowest price and change their purchasing requirements by developing a scoring system that scores the integrators on price, knowledge of the project, capability, and product.”
Is change possible?
Finding a problem that slows the growth of an industry is often difficult. But sometimes, it’s even more challenging to solve a problem because the stakeholders are not aware of the impact.
Many projects often involve people who do not fully comprehend the need for qualified security professionals and robust solutions. These people can hurt the process of implementing the project.
Changing such a situation requires more effort from the industry to increase awareness of the importance of maintaining quality. Educating the end user is not an easy task, and many manufacturers think twice before doing it. But only with concentrated effort to create better awareness of security can we find a solution to this issue.