By Scott Higinbotham
You've gone to the required tradeshows, read all of the relevant trade journals, and sought input from your most trusted peers and stakeholders. You have chosen the products for your security-convergent strategy. Have you used the same care and diligence in choosing a partner to design, install, and service your security-convergent project?
The process for choosing a convergent partner should be no less thorough than choosing the product set for your security-convergent strategy and should consist of more than finding a partner that is an authorized dealer for your chosen products. In fact, an effective convergent partner can provide valuable assistance in choosing your product set.
A thorough investigation of a potential partner should include answers to the following questions. The answers you receive will be valuable in determining whether the services provided by the potential partner provide the right fit for your organization and project.
What is the reputation in the industry for similar projects? Use the formal and informal resources of your industry to discover how others rate your potential convergent partner (tradeshows, bulletin boards, discussion groups, industry associations, etc.). Try to filter the feedback with like projects.
What is the product mix? Confirm that the potential partner has the necessary products or access to products for your project. Verify that this access is solid and dependable through direct or exclusive agreements with suppliers. You want to be sure that your convergent partner has the necessary product access and support to make your project a success.
What is the competency against the products mix? Investigate the training and/or certification requirements that a product manufacturer places on a distributor and confirm that the potential convergent partner has complied or can comply with these requirements for the products you anticipate using in your project. Your investigation should go beyond specific product certifications and include other knowledge or education that will make for a successful application, installation, and service of the chosen product set.
What is the project model? Verify that the potential partner has the necessary support, processes, and infrastructure in place to ensure success of your project. Confirm that the necessary professional services (project management, application engineering, etc.) will be available for your project when needed.
How are manpower requirements managed? Confirm that a potential convergent partner has the capacity to assign the right number of trained professional resources to your project where and when needed. Determine where these resources will come from and how priority is given for their use. Other items to explore in this area include contingency plans for employee turnover and how employee development is structured in the workforce of the potential convergent partner.
What is the long-term support plan? No one wants to think about when (or what) things could go wrong with a oject or partnership, but you need to understand how the support services and escalation processes are defined and managed by your potential convergent partner.
A convergent-security project represents a significant, long-term investment for your organization. A thorough investigation of both product and partner will maximize the value returned on your investment.
Scott Higinbotham is training manager at Indianapolis-based Stanley Security Solutions (wwwstanleysecuritysolutions.com).