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How to Choose a PSIM Solution to Fit your Needs

Adam Bannister
Adam Bannister
Editor, IFSEC Global

PSIM – or Physical Security Information Management – brings hitherto unconnected security functions – like access control, CCTV, intruder alarms, fire-safety systems and building services controls – under the control of a centralised control room.

So how do you decide which is the best PSIM solution for you?

“A PSIM platform is unlike any other security investment in that it reaches across all stakeholders within the enterprise,” says James Condron, VP of global sales at CNL Software. “Selecting a PSIM solution is an important decision. Before you decide there are a number of steps to take to fulfil your organisational requirements – both for today and tomorrow.”

CNL Software outlines those steps below – but first let’s hear the viewpoints of two competitors.

“Think about PSIM as a risk-management investment,” says Ellen Howe, vice president of marketing & business development, whose founder and CEO James I Chong actually coined the term PSIM.

“Every business decision has a financial impact so having accurate, timely information in a crisis is required.  The goal for organisations is to protect and prevent against bad things happening but when a disruptive event does occur, effective response and recovery is key to achieving resilience.

“A risk-based security plan intelligently buys down risk and creates a security-conscious culture. That culture includes training and awareness about the value of security investments from the board to the executive level and throughout the employee ranks.

“More specifically, look for PSIM that future-proofs your technology investments, get IT and security involved early in the process, a commercial, off-the-shelf product and a committed, experienced delivery team that view themselves as your partner for successful deployment and implementation.”

Jamie Wilson, marketing manager EMEA at NICE Systems, agrees that it’s vital to pick a system that will accommodate the evolution of security technologies for many years.

“Not all PSIM solutions are made equal,” he says. “Future-proofing is vital in making the right choice.

“Look carefully at all systems that you have in situ today and are likely to have tomorrow – think long term! – and ensure that your shortlisted solutions can integrate with all of them with ease.

“But beyond that, you need to be forward-thinking in your understanding of what a PSIM solution can bring to your organisation – not only from a safety and security perspective but also operationally.”

Here are CNL Software’s suggested steps for choosing a PSIM solution to meet your needs:

Business case

As in any capital investment, a supporting business case justifying the financial and human capital investment is required. Unlike other security investments deploying a PSIM platform affects stakeholders across an enterprise. Be sure to seek input and – most importantly –buy-in from key stakeholders as early in the process as possible.

Well-defined objectives

Without well-defined objectives a PSIM deployment could fail to meet the expectations of stakeholders. Objectives need to reflect the system’s (or business’s) requirements in order of priority, and should be set in phases aligned to the PSIM roll-out.

Risk management

All organisations are risk-averse. Managing risk is therefore fundamental to any PSIM deployment.  Failure to account for risks in the technical, schedule and cost domains can quickly doom a project.  An emphasis on stakeholder needs, requirements-based design and solid integration testing all serve to ensure that risks are identified and an effective mitigation plan can be developed early in the design process.

Scalability and flexibility

Every organisation changes over time, be it through M&A activity or natural growth or staff changes.  Furthermore, processes are constantly evolving to meet changing business and compliance requirements. PSIM is a long-term investment; a decision made today will need to support your requirements tomorrow, whatever they may be.

Ensure all requirements are identified

A systems-based approach, which is systematic and elicits requirements from stakeholders, should make defining the requirements both more thorough and more accurate.

Establish change management rules

A PSIM deployment could involve hundreds of individuals from across an organisation. The technology’s power and its ability to apply and enforce rules universally should be considered.

A seemingly simple change to the system can have far-reaching implications across an organisation. Therefore each request for change, no matter how trivial, should be recorded and approved.

Select the right integrator

Unlike any traditional security systems PSIM combines a wide range of disciplines: physical security, networking, IT systems and business systems. Many traditional physical security integrators are unprepared for this convergence between physical security and IT systems and simply don’t have the skill sets required to deliver PSIM solutions.

Select the right PSIM

You should now have a very clear vision for your PSIM deployment –now it’s time to find a PSIM provider. Look for a provider with experience and reference accounts that are similar to your own.

Ensure they can scale up to meet any future expansion needs. Choose one with an open system – ie, they work with all manufacturers – so you’re not tied into their products or a limited number of products.

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Adam Bannister
Adam Bannister
Adam Bannister is the Editor in Chief for IFSECGlobal.com. A former managing editor at Dynamis Online Media Group, his experience in B2B journalism spans eight years and includes writing, subediting, and interviewing. Adam, who also has experience writing PR, creating surveys, and producing whitepapers, is determined to grow IFSEC Global's community and strengthen its position as the premier resource for the security and fire-prevention industries. Hailing from Birmingham (ranked in The New York Times's Places to Visit 2012 no less!), he is an Aston Villa supporter and regularly plays five-a-side football.
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