Choose Your Integrator Wisely
The right integrator can make or break an electronic security project. Appropriate experience, specialization, financial stability, location and reputation are just some of the attributes that make a contractor a good fit.
When a bid is required, an institution (or its consultant) normally creates a request for proposal (RFP), which is a road map that prospective integrators follow to create proposals on the project. (For complete coverage of this topic, see “5 Tips for Writing Effective RFPs”).
Campuses Prefer Integrators That Specialize
Regardless of the approach used by a campus, the value of properly vetting integrators should not be underestimated. Most experts agree that a contractor’s experience in a specialized field is critical. According to Jeff Fields, senior security consultant for EDI Ltd., previous experience in healthcare is the No. 1 request for hospitals. “Integrators with this background seem to understand the nomenclature of projects and processes that need to be incorporated in the design and installation phases,” he says.
Noelle Britton, director of marketing, security systems for Siemens Building Technologies agrees. “Without this knowledge, we can’t create a tailored strategy that will protect campus people, property and assets,” she says.
Local, National Contractors Have Pros, Cons
There is some debate, however, about whether an integrator should be local or national. Fields prefers a contractor with a large footprint that can allocate resources to various locations throughout the nation and support multi-million dollar projects. “A regional integrator may have the expertise to be able to complete a project, and we look at them on a case by case basis,” he adds. “If it’s a large project where there are multiple sites across the United States, that changes our dynamics.” His concern is that a standalone facility wouldn’t have the capital and human resources to support a customer of that size.
Britton agrees, adding that integrators with such breadth can share best demonstrated practices between staff and across regions and markets. In fact, some large integrators have national conferences to improve the information flow among customers. “We actually have lots of our past systems purchasers get together at national events,” says Richard Seferian, construction business developer for Johnson Controls.