Drafting a Blueprint for Security
Immediately upon concluding the construction of a secure-asset facility 10 years ago, project management hit a major setback: the security manager. Instead of working with the design team and project manager in the initial phases of the project, the security manager waited until the new facility was already erected to determine where security cameras needed to be placed.
“All of a sudden, we’re moving cameras and changing openings and sleeves in the wall for wiring because [the security manager] had difficulty reading blueprints,” says Rick Lavelle, PSP, principal architect and owner of Creador Architecture, of the experience. Instead of admitting that he had this difficulty, the security manager waited until he could see the facility three-dimensionally, causing delays and increasing project costs.
“Then he’d step in and really do his job that would have been helpful to have earlier in the process,” Lavelle explains.
To help prevent security professionals from becoming similar setbacks in construction projects, Security Management sat down with Lavelle; Mark Schreiber, CPP, principal consultant for Safeguards Consulting and chair of the ASIS International Security Architecture and Engineering Council; Rene Rieder, Jr., CPP, PSP, associate principal at Ove Arup & Partners; and J. Kelly Stewart, managing director and CEO of Newcastle Consulting, for their tips on navigating the document and project management process.
1. KNOW YOUR TEAM
Like almost any project that involves numerous people, it’s crucial to understand that a construction project is a team effort that requires team members to understand the process and communicate with each other.
“We emphasize...know who your team is, align with your team, and communicate with your team as much as possible because that will support a central project,” Schreiber explains.
And this team can be quite large, including top executives at the company, the project manager, the facility operations manager, the facility engineer, the security manager, security consultants, architects and designers, engineers, and general consultants—just to name a few. The council encourages team members to construct a simple diagram to help keep track of everyone.
While it may take a while, identifying the team and communicating with them helps ensure that security is included in construction project discussions from the very beginning—something that doesn’t always happen automatically.
“I was fairly surprised to learn early on in one of [the first classes I taught] that most of the project is completed—and sometimes is built—when the security manager gets a roll of drawings and they say, ‘Give us a security plan,’” Lavelle says.
To change this, he explains that security needs to “know the relationships within their own companies that they need to develop so that doesn’t happen to them, [and that they make sure] they’re brought in earlier in the process. That leads to a much more successful implementation of anybody’s security plan.”
Lavelle also recommends that security leads work with the IT department during the project. “Getting IT, security, and the facilities people together on one team and having them all have the same direction, you’ll probably have the most effective security program that’s possible,” he explains.
2. KNOW YOUR GOALS
A construction project is rarely initiated just to meet a security need. It’s typically instigated to meet some other operational need, such as to increase manufacturing capacity. So the security department must ensure that its goals for the project—whether it’s introducing a new CCTV system or implementing its existing access control system—align with the overarching goals for the new facility.
“Just because they now have been given the green light to do an improvement for their facility doesn’t mean that they can go in and put every possible technology, every possible countermeasure that they’ve been dreaming about for years in,” Schreiber says. “They have to work within the goals of that project.”
This means that once the goals for the facility are outlined, the security department needs to specify its own project goals, providing a way to measure those goals, ensuring that goals are attainable and relevant to the overall project, identifying the starting functional requirements, and making sure they meet time and budgetary constraints. In the case of a new manufacturing plant, for example, CCTV might be attractive to other departments as well, such as quality management or logistics, creating a stronger case for the technology and getting these departments to share the expense.
By going through this process, security professionals can make sure that their goals are aligned with the overall project goals, enabling them to have success, Schreiber adds. “Whereas the more they stray away, they’re going to essentially be spinning their wheels, wasting effort, and possibly jeopardizing credibility.”
3. KNOW YOUR DOCUMENTS
For most security professionals, being part of a construction project is not routine. Nor is the process of reading project manuals, floor plans, elevations, and other drawing plans. But understanding what these documents are and how they come together to represent a construction project is key to the success of the project “because if the documents are correct, then you have a sound project for development,” Stewart says.
That’s because the documents work together as a guide detailing the design of the project, the technology that will be installed, and where exactly those installations will take place in the final construction.
And while discussing changes or where technology should be installed in the final project, security directors can communicate with design professionals and architects—regardless of their drawing skills, Lavelle adds. A quick visual representation of the camera and access control location can be helpful.
While these discussions are taking place, it’s important to document changes throughout the process and review them with the project team after each step is completed. “It’s arduous, but it’s a necessary evil because if you skip a step, you’ll forget something or something will fall through the cracks,” Stewart explains.
After the construction project is completed, it’s important to continue to keep track of its documentation and make sure it’s up to date so it reflects the current facility. In one case, Stewart took over as a director of security for a company that hadn’t documented the many changes to its system over the years.
“I actually had to bring in a security consultant and architect to figure out where all the stuff was,” he says. “There were drawings that were going back 20 years, which had nothing to do with the current system.”
4. KNOW YOUR CHAIN OF COMMAND
In an ideal world, once the initial security goals for the project are outlined and plans are designed to implement them, nothing would change. “But truthfully, it never works that way,” Lavelle says. And when changes or problems occur, it’s critical to know who in the project team you need to talk to about implementing a solution.
As the project goes further along, you spend less time with the design team and more time with the general contractor, Lavelle explains. This means that security directors need to understand the roles and responsibilities of those involved in the project, and who they need to speak to about changes throughout the process.
For instance, some construction projects can take more than 18 months to complete, and during that time technology may change or new company policies may be implemented. The security needs for the project may shift, but it might not be appropriate to seek executive approval for the change.
“Going back to the CEO or the CFO who approved the project costs in the beginning may not be appropriate if you’re halfway through construction,” Lavelle says. Instead, security directors will likely need to go to the facility or project manager, or even their direct supervisor, to have the changes approved.
Most security professionals have never been involved in a construction project. For them, this is a “once in their career” experience, Rieder says. Following the steps outlined above can help smooth the way. However, if a project seems overwhelming security professionals need to reach out to peers or experts for help and advice.
The Security Architecture and Engineering Council is sponsoring an educational session on the security document and project management process in October.