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Common Security Project Mistakes As Told by ISC West Vendors

We asked officials from four companies at ISC West about the most common mistakes customers make when selecting a vendor.

Each new security project at a college, school or hospital is unique and requires security managers to make different considerations.

After hearing some comments about end user misunderstandings in our Access Control survey, Campus Safety thought it would be useful to hear from vendors at ISC West about the most common mistakes they see customers making.

Over the course of the show last week, we asked four companies the same question in hopes of gaining insights from the vendor’s side of the table. Below are answers from top officials at Sielox, Code Blue, AMAG Technology and Inovonics.

Also be sure to check out our photo gallery of some exhibit booths at ISC this year!

Question: What are the most common mistakes you see customers making when selecting vendors for a project, and how should campuses address these issues?

Some of these answers have been lightly edited for brevity.

Code Blue Director of Experience Katie Petre said a common customer mistake was selecting vendors that won’t care about the customer after the sale.

“Establish relationships with manufacturers that you can trust now and for years to come,” she says. “By getting to know the company, their quality and their process, you can avoid working with organizations that are only interested in the sale. There is nothing worse than buying a product and finding out afterwards that there are additional fees or no technical support.”

According to AMAG Technology VP, Global Sales & Business Development, Jody Ross, another common mistake is not factoring in all aspects of the big picture.

“They need to review both business AND security needs and how they correlate and must work together,” she said. “A siloed approach can lead to difficulties and additional costs down the road. All key stakeholders within the organization need to be brought to the table and provide input on their specialties.”

Sielox CEO Karen Evans provided a list of best practices, including:

  • Ensure the software or hardware is backward compatible so as the capacity grows, so can the system. “Many organizations expect access control systems to be in use for 15 years or more,” she said.
  • Understanding the vendor’s technical support program: What criteria and costs are associated for contacting tech support?
  • Added features should not incur exorbitant costs to be enabled. Understand the necessity for any feature as most access user want advanced features but never use them.

Inovonics VP of Sales Craig Dever said the biggest problem he sees is when customers focus on brand or cost over technology.

“When using wireless systems for commercial projects, it’s vital that the customer understands the technical specifications of their chosen solution,” Dever says. “Wireless systems vary greatly with regard to specifications, and choosing the wrong system can be devastating to the long term reliability of the solution. Customers should instead begin the process with an analysis of the facility, taking into account such factors as building and campus size, building construction and application requirements such as fixed vs. mobile end points. Then, they should do their due diligence, including a site survey for RF coverage if possible, to make sure that the wireless system they choose can meet the need.”

Now check the slideshow of photos from different ISC West booths!

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About the Author


Zach Winn is a journalist living in the Boston area. He was previously a reporter for Wicked Local and graduated from Keene State College in 2014, earning a Bachelor’s Degree in journalism and minoring in political science.

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