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Great expectations

James Clark, General Manager, National & Key Accounts at STANLEY Security, looks at what you should expect from a vendor when it comes to large electronic security system projects

 When dealing with a substantial, complex security system installation – often covering multiple sites and many hundreds of people – you clearly need a security vendor with the resources and experience to deliver.  Smaller security companies may not have adequate means to support the longevity of these projects.  This generally isn’t an issue for larger companies, but beware - not all such companies are well placed to deal with large projects; that’s because not all of them have a formal process in place.

Large security projects require clear KPIs and targets (including monthly commitments), ongoing review, regular clear communication and a dedicated team for consistency and continuity from start to finish.  If you don’t choose wisely, what you may end up with is company delivering a string of different people from different departments working on your installation at any given time, without a joined up approach.  The person responsible for system design, for example, may never see your project when it’s actually being installed, which can lead to a potentially problematic and ultimately unsatisfactory outcome.

Whilst every major security system design project will bring about its own set of challenges, the approach taken by the security vendor should remain consistent.  Here’s what it should look like at the different stages of the project and what you should expect from your supplier.


Tying yourself to one manufacturer is rarely a good idea when it comes to large and complex security installs.  Going down this route limits your options and you could end up with a security system that meets the vendor’s product portfolio rather than your needs.

That doesn’t mean to say that a security company that is not affiliated to specific manufacturers won’t have close relationships with a range of them.  A close relationship can be beneficial in terms of in-depth product knowledge and preferential pricing.

What’s most important is that the security company independently test and asses product rather than relying on manufacturers’ claims.  They should continually appraise the marketplace to see what’s new and assess the value and relevance of product.  They should also have the finger on the pulse of the security sector to identify where the market is going. At STANLEY Security we very much focus on identifying technology solutions that minimise financial outlay for a client, such as video analytics.  At present we are testing facial recognition systems which have grown in popularity and delivery.

Design & Estimation

A written, comprehensive strategy needs to be in place for the project, including forecasting that considers the longer timescales involved in large, complex projects and includes a ‘what if’ approach to ensure appropriate resource is available.  So, for example, if a project looks like it is going to overrun due to unforeseen circumstances, you want to be sure you retain the same team on the project full time and that they are not transferred onto the next contract or dividing their time between the two.

Installation & Project Management

Team work is essential with large projects not only to get the job done, but also to manage any risk.  Your vendor must have an experienced Major Project Team with a clear structure, so everyone knows their role and you know who you are dealing with at any given time. 

If subcontractors are being used by the security company, which is quite usual for very large installations and for particular specialisms (e.g. control room modelling), then a process needs to be in place to manage them and you need to be made aware of this. 

Commission & Handover

Although it’s the last stage of the project, Commission & Handover has the potential to be the most difficult and is where costs can escalate.  This is where the dedicated Major Project Team is vital as they will know the project inside out and have worked on it from start to finish, helping to avoid any end of project issues.

Large, complex security systems, especially those with high security requirements, are not easy to deliver.  They require skilful, experienced hands, substantial resources in both financial and staffing terms, and a clear, consistent procedure that everyone is fully aware of.  Don’t assume that just because you are dealing with a large security vendor they will have all of these in place; think like a security professional and ask to see the evidence!

STANLEY Security is one of the leading security providers in the UK.  STANLEY designs, installs, monitors and services security systems for industrial, government, commercial and national account customers.