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10 Questions You Should Ask Potential Security Solutions Providers
The term security covers everything from physical building access and visitor management, to network and cyber security. Depending on how your business is set up, you will need a mixture of these solutions to ensure that you are protected. Some business operate completely online, while others house high volumes of inventory with physical locations. How your business is set up plays a key part in deciding which security solutions provider you chose to work with. Choosing a provider who can check all your boxes is the goal for many businesses and it can be a daunting task to find the perfect fit. We have compiled a list of important questions that customers have asked us during discovery conversations. While this list of 10 questions is far from all the things you should consider, we hope this helps you get some ideas to get the ball rolling.
- Can you explain your approach when assessing a site and making recommendations for manufacturers and solutions?
Your business is unique. Unique businesses need to have proper assessments done by a provider for an adequate solution to be implemented. There is no one-size fits all solution when it comes to protection from virtual or physical security breaches. Site assessments are the key to ensuring that a provider knows exactly where potential weaknesses are within your network or building. A good provider will be able to describe their process of exploring your site or network. It is not possible to provide a security solution without understanding a customer’s concerns. Security for a business is not as simple as buying a few cameras and placing them around your building, and a provider should always have a game plan for figuring out the best plan for you. If you ask this question and the response doesn’t feel like it has substance, your implementation may not turn out as you had planned.
- What solutions does your company represent, and why?
There are a ton of different products on the market when it comes to security. A reputable provider should offer many different options to you that vary in both price and functionality. A few examples of solutions that we offer are Access Control, Video Surveillance, Intrusion Detection, Facial Recognition, Network Security, and Cybersecurity. These are general categories for security solutions and within each of these categories there are countless manufacturers on the market. It is extremely common for customers to require a mixture of these solutions. This question is important to ask to make sure that the provider you chose can provide solutions in each area that you require. If they don’t have the capability to handle all your requirements, you will end up needing to work with multiple providers. While it is possible to utilize multiple providers for security, it is much more challenging to achieve clear communication and cohesive implementations.
- How many dedicated field staff and engineers do you have locally?
If you have multiple business locations, or locations in rural areas you will need to make sure that the provider has the capability to send field staff and engineers to the each of the sites. Some providers use subcontractors to complete jobs in other regions, and some have local field staff throughout the country. You will want to discuss how their business is set up as far as field staff, and how they vet their subcontractors if they use them.
- What networking & network security experts do you have on staff?
While a great salesperson or account manager can speak to the functionality of their products and solutions, the network and security engineers are the people who will design and create the customized solution for your business. Be sure to ask about the experts on the providers team to figure out if they have an experience level that you feel comfortable with. Tangible signs of experience are past projects they have completed, customer reviews or testimonials, and any certifications they have. Reputable providers will be able to speak to the project experience their experts have and be willing to provide reviews or references of their work.
- Can you fulfill our need nationally?
Some businesses (such as large bank and restaurant chains for example) have many locations throughout the country. If this is true for you, you will want to bring this up very early in the discovery phase of your relationship with a provider. As we mentioned under question number 3, some providers have local field staff throughout the country, and some utilize subcontractors. If you have a preference of how providers handle geographically dispersed locations, talking about local field staff, subcontractors, and the possibility of having a local team travel is a good place to start.
- Can you explain to me how you deliver your projects successfully?
While no two projects are identical when it comes to security, the provider should have an outline of how they are generally handled. They should be able to discuss the process from initial project planning through implementation and ongoing support. This conversation eliminates any surprises in the process that you agree to. It also helps you understand what your team is responsible for and how it will impact your business function during the implementation.
- Which parts of the installations do you do manage vs subcontract?
We have touched on the concept of local field staff and subcontractors a few times, but it is one of the most important pieces of a project. The field staff are the feet on the ground who will bring the project (which you have spent a lot of time planning and organizing) to life. You want to make sure that the provider has the best of the best visiting your locations. Your executive team may even have guidelines for allowing subcontractors to perform jobs.
- How do you manage service and ongoing support?
So, you had a security solution implemented successfully. Now what? Security solutions are not a one-time purchase that lasts forever. Security solutions need to be maintained and updated over time to ensure full protection and functionality. Before you sign a contract with a provider it is imperative to discuss what happens after the project is completed. Some providers require a new contract each time maintenance or upgrades are required, and some offer support for a certain amount of time after the project is completed. Neither option is necessarily better or worse, but it is something to consider if you have a preference before selecting a provider.
- What am I paying for once vs. recurring?
When it comes to security there are a ton of different categories and types of solutions. You can purchase anything from cameras or hardware to full surveillance platforms with door access and facial recognition. Depending on what you need, you can be set up for one payment or a subscription-based package that includes software for security personnel to use. In most cases, security solutions are not a one-time fee and if they are sold to you that way it will be important to dive further into that discussion to address what happens after the project is implemented. It is very frustrating to purchase a solution and then find out that you will need to purchase additional items such as software or cloud space to access video surveillance. It is always better to know ahead of time what you are signing up for.
- What trends or technology should be on the lookout for?
Technology is one of the fastest evolving industries on the planet. What you see on the market today could look completely different next year. Great providers are on the lookout for up and coming products and features. Asking about upcoming technology is beneficial because the provider can create a solution to allow for easy upgrades and additions as they become available later. If you plan for future customizations, the likelihood of having to start from scratch diminishes greatly. It is always better to be able to build upon the solution you have, than to start over. It saves time, money and human resources in the long run.
This list of 10 questions is not meant to be a full outline of the conversation you should have with a potential provider, but we hope that it helps you get the conversation started. The provider you are having a discussion with should listen to your needs, concerns and requests. As a provider, we at Matrix-NDI pride ourselves of putting our customers first. We want our customers to feel that they are in control of their implementations, and there should never be any surprises. If you have any questions, please reach out to us. Whether you are a current customer or not, we can help you make great decisions for your business.
To connect with us, reach out to ContactUs@Matrix-NDI.com or call 763-475-5500