If your tender sets specifications around the technology available, it limits your system from the outset
The right security system can add great value when used as an
integral part of business processes

When buying a security system, primary consideration is often given to short-term issues such as technical capability and how current risks are covered. However, this approach doesn’t account for a security system being a longer-term investment, often spanning around ten years. During this time a lot can change, both in terms of technical development and an organisation’s needs and risks. If you choose a system that can’t respond to changes in future, you’re likely to get a poor return on investment as well as, potentially, being left vulnerable.  

A focus on technical capability and risk also misses a crucial point – the right security system can add great value when used as an integral part of business processes. Kim te Kaat, Business Developer at Nedap Security Management and Martijn Ronteltap, Senior Manager at Deloitte, discuss how focusing on long-term benefits in your tender can influence the value you get from your security system.  

1. Start with your vision - don't limit your system

If your tender sets specifications around the technology available, it limits your system from the outset. The best place to start is with your organisation’s vision. Martijn Ronteltap explains: “By starting your tender with your strategic vision, you can determine what you want your security system to support – not just now but in the future.”

“You might, for example, want to operate everything using one device. This isn’t available yet, but it’d be wise to choose a supplier that shares your ambition. Look carefully at how the proposed system is built up to ensure you can make modifications later. It may not offer the functionality for your future needs immediately, but the right modular structure should mean it’s possible later.”  

This is why a relatively open system is a must. A modular, software-based system means you’re not limited by hardware and can respond more easily to future developments, whether they involve technological or organisational changes. You’ll have a system that can grow with you and enable you to comply with future procedures and regulations, rather than being stuck with a system that quickly becomes obsolete.

“Sharing your vision enables your supplier to become more than a security system provider,” explains Kim te Kaat. “They can be a partner that contributes ideas and helps ensure your system supports your company’s strategy for the future.”

 

Security managers should work on processes and strategy rather than technology
Modular security system based on software and open standards will allow you
to connect to third party systems easily and cost-effectively

2. Look beyond risk  

Another limitation when tendering for a security system is focusing only on risk. Kim te Kaat says, “A security system shouldn’t be seen as just a fence with an access system. It can bring far more value to your organisation in the long-term than simply limiting risks.” 

It can, for example, enable you to see which rooms are being used at which times so you can adjust your building management accordingly. Martijn Ronteltap adds: “Thinking in terms of risks isn’t wrong, it just shouldn’t be the only thing you consider when buying a security system. Biometrics, for example, often are chosen for high-risk entry points. But, if the same entry points were considered from an efficiency point of view, biometrics might make the best sense as they allow people to pass through quickly.” 

If you’ve opted for a security system in which software determines functionality, adding hardware like biometrics is possible without installing a whole new system. This is why viewing security as an investment in software as well as hardware helps ensure your system’s longevity, and enables you to take advantage of future technologies or respond to legislative changes, thereby ensuring a better return on investment.  

“Take, for instance, an organisation that decided to buy an AEOS system in 2013,” says Kim te Kaat. “In the meantime, we’ve been developing new functionalities, which they can now use without paying extra.”   

3. Prepare for optimisation

"A security system shouldn’t
be seen as just a fence with an
access system. It can bring far
more value to your organisation
in the long-term than simply
limiting risks"

Most of the business systems, such as invoicing or HR, are process-driven, so that they can be evaluated and adapted regularly for continual improvement. However, security systems are not integrated into business processes usually, and hence the added value they offer is often overlooked. Moreover, they are not evaluated and optimised for current and future use. Think of the way you supply passes or assign or revoke access rights. If it’s not established in a process you can’t see if it’s being done efficiently and identify opportunities for improvement.  

Martijn Ronteltap says, “If, in your tender, you approach security as a cycle with processes, you’ll get a system that’s easier to modify according to your strategy and vision.”

Kim te Kaat adds “Optimising other business processes can also be reliant on a progressive security system. Suppose you plan to automate processes surrounding people leaving the company. A modular security system based on software and open standards will allow you to connect to third party systems such as HR, easily and cost-effectively. So you can add behaviours such as automatically blocking access when someone’s deleted from the HR system. It would never be possible to take this step with a closed system.” 

The ideal scenario is for security managers to work on processes and strategy rather than technology. “That way you avoid the classic mistake of only looking at the number of doors or short-term situations. You concentrate on the bigger picture and how security fits into and can help enable your strategic vision.”

Plan. Do. Check. Act. 

Using the Deming circle or PDCA cycle will ensure your security system is continuously evaluated so you can optimise it effectively.  

  • Plan - Plan what you want to achieve now and in the future and how you’re going to achieve it.

 

  • Do - Implement your plan and measure the results.

 

  • Check - Regularly check that the elements of your plan were all implemented. If they weren’t, investigate why. Also check the results – are they meeting the objectives in your plan?

 

  • Act - Act upon the findings from your checks. You may need to change your plan to improve results.   

Tendering tips  

  • Make sure your organisation’s long-term vision is the starting point for your tender, rather than technology or risk. 

 

  • Ensure your system has a modular structure based on open standards that can respond to future developments, whether they’re technical or organisational. 

 

  • Don’t just consider how you’ll maintain your new system – how will you upgrade and improve it in years to come?
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