Good project management is necessary to keep a security system installation project on
schedule. Many security managers are responsible for managing security projects, yet often have little experience in managing a construction type of activity. Here are a few tips on how to keep your project on track:
- Make sure that your schedule is realistic. Security managers often have to fight long and hard with their company's senior management to get approval to proceed with their security project. Once funding is obtained, these security managers often want to have the project installed "overnight". Be sure to allow enough time to develop a bid specification and to obtain bids. Give your security system vendor enough time to design the project, obtain equipment, and mobilize their installation force. Setting completion dates that are too optimistic is the most common way to guarantee that your project will fall behind schedule before it even starts.
- Communicate your schedule expectations to the security vendors who are bidding on your project. Make sure that they know that you are serious about your completion deadlines. Often, the salesperson for the security vendor will be so anxious to obtain your business that he or she will agree to any schedule, realistic or not. These sales people figure that it is better to get your contract now, and apologize for missed deadlines later. If possible, talk with the security vendor's operations manager or installation manager to obtain a confirmation that the completion date promised by the salesperson is achievable.
- Ask each bidder to provide a written project schedule. Ask what type of project management software that they use to create their schedules. A well-managed security systems vendor will probably use some type of professional project management software, such as "Primavera" or "Microsoft Project".
- The security systems vendor cannot install equipment that he does not have. There are long lead times on many types of security equipment, particularly security lock hardware and some types of access cards. Make sure that the vendor has included equipment delivery times in his project schedule.
- When obtaining bids, be wary of the bidder who promises to complete the project in a much shorter time period than any of the other bidders. Most qualified security vendors buy from the same manufacturers, have access to the same type of labor forces, and have approximately the same installation backlog. If you have a bidder who claims he can complete your project sooner than anyone else, make him explain how this is possible.
- Establish the completion dates for each phase of the project in your contract with the security vendor. Be sure that your contract includes a "time is of the essence" type of clause. Have your company's attorney review your contract to make sure that the completion dates established will be legally binding on the vendor.
- Make sure that the other players on your team also keep their schedule commitments. In many cases, the owner will be responsible for providing conduit, power circuits, lock hardware, telephone jacks, or other such items. In many cases, this work will be done by another contractor or by in-house facilities maintenance people. The project schedule should establish the dates that each of these items will be completed so that the security vendor can coordinate his work accordingly. Any delays in work performed by other parties gives the security vendor an excuse for not completing his work on time.
- Once the project has started, have regular project meetings with the security vendor to verify that the project is on schedule. Any problems in the schedule should be identified and corrected early in the project - not just a few days before the scheduled completion date.
- Should your contract include a penalty for delay? Many security managers are tempted to include a "liquidated damages for delay" clause in their contract that makes the security vendor pay a certain amount of money (such as $500 per day) for every day that the project is delayed. These types of clauses are tricky to legally enforce and should only be drafted by your company
attorney. Delay penalty clauses can also discourage some qualified security vendors from bidding on the project and/or cause an inflation in the bid prices received.
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