What Makes a Good Integrator?

Professionalism and teamwork are key to successful projects

As security consultants, we are tasked with everything from creating a security program to recommending an integrator with whom clients can form a good relationship for all their security equipment needs.

This article is written specifically from the viewpoint of how to suggest a good integrator. Security consultants must ask themselves this basic question:

“Is this integrator going to perform professionally?” In this case, professionally means quite a few things. It breaks down the integrator’s competency into several key parts:

  • Can the integrator appreciate the consultant’s role, work as a team member to execute this project efficiently and be ready for the next one?
  • Can the integrator keep the scope, schedule and budget in focus?
  • Can the integrator communicate appropriately with the client?
  • At the end of the job, what will the client tell me about this integrator?

I have gathered these criteria from two sources: My 22 years in the industry, and direct experience working with good and bad integrators. I was an integrator for 12 years before becoming a consultant 10 years ago. When all of the above questions were answered with a yes and the last one with a thank you, my experience with the integrator was good. My experiences with bad integrators went like this: They couldn’t keep a schedule to save their lives; they couldn’t perform the work without whining about having to do each task or about having a consultant design the installation differently than they would have done it, regardless of the enhancement to the system’s serviceability; and they completely down-talked and badmouthed the consultant to the client as an unnecessary role.

Only one of these bad experiences resulted in a client discontinuing the use of the consultant (though the client later realized the specific, necessary role of the consultant), while all the other times the client did not want to use the integrator either to finish the project or for any future work in the agency/organization.

There are three mandatory roles in a security installation project: The consultant has to design the system or the criteria appropriately to the client’s needs, calling out specific security equipment and installation methodologies. The manufacturer must provide a support role to the integrator in a presales, during-sales and during-project process.

The integrator must install the security system(s) as designed in a neat, clean, trouble-free atmosphere, remembering that the key phrase to a successful project is smooth and easy.

If unforeseen problems arise warranting change orders, then put the information forth as soon as possible with a cause-and-effect statement. This makes any transition smooth and easy. If problems arise and something goes wrong (damage to a facility, complaints from client staff), own it -- and bring it to the consultant and client as soon as possible, explaining what happened and the remedy you took. The examples could go on and on, but you should get the point by these few.

It is easy to perform a project as an integrator working with a consultant from the client side if you can answer positively to all of the bullet points above and if you handle things with a smooth and easy approach throughout the project.

This article originally appeared in the March 2011 issue of Security Today.

About the Author

Charlie Howell is an independent security consultant in Northern California.


  • Cybersecurity Awareness Month: Top Five Action Items to Elevate Your Data Security Posture Management and Secure Your Data

    October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month, and every year most tips for security hygiene and staying safe have not changed. We’ve seen them all – use strong passwords, deploy multi-factor authentication (MFA), be vigilant to spot phishing attacks, regularly update software and patch your systems. These are great recommended ongoing tips and are as relevant today as they’ve ever been. But times have changed and these best practices can no longer be the bare minimum. Read Now

  • Boosting Safety and Efficiency

    Boosting Safety and Efficiency

    In alignment with the state of Mississippi’s mission of “Empowering Mississippi citizens to stay connected and engaged with their government,” Salient's CompleteView VMS is being installed throughout more than 150 state boards, commissions and agencies in order to ensure safety for thousands of constituents who access state services daily. Read Now

  • Live From GSX: Post-Show Review

    Live From GSX: Post-Show Review

    This year’s Live From GSX program was a rousing success! Again, we’d like to thank our partners, and IPVideo, for working with us and letting us broadcast their solutions to the industry. You can follow our Live From GSX 2023 page to keep up with post-show developments and announcements. And if you’re interested in working with us in 2024, please don’t hesitate to ask about our Live From programs for ISC West in March or next year’s GSX. Read Now

    • Industry Events
    • GSX
  • People Say the Funniest Things

    People Say the Funniest Things

    By all accounts, GSX version 2023 was completely successful. Apparently, there were plenty of mix-ups with the airlines and getting aircraft from the East Coast into Big D. I am all ears when I am in a gathering of people. You never know when a nugget of information might flip out. Read Now

    • Industry Events
    • GSX

Featured Cybersecurity

New Products

  • XS4 Original+

    XS4 Original+

    The SALTO XS4 Original+ design is based on the same proven housing and mechanical mechanisms of the XS4 Original. The XS4 Original+, however, is embedded with SALTO’s BLUEnet real-time functionality and SVN-Flex capability that enables SALTO stand-alone smart XS4 Original+ locks to update user credentials directly at the door. Compatible with the array of SALTO platform solutions including SALTO Space data-on-card, SALTO KS Keys as a Service cloud-based access solution, and SALTO’s JustIn Mobile technology for digital keys. The XS4 Original+ also includes RFID Mifare DESFire, Bluetooth LE and NFC technology functionality. 3

  • ComNet CNGE6FX2TX4PoE

    The ComNet cost-efficient CNGE6FX2TX4PoE is a six-port switch that offers four Gbps TX ports that support the IEEE802.3at standard and provide up to 30 watts of PoE to PDs. It also has a dedicated FX/TX combination port as well as a single FX SFP to act as an additional port or an uplink port, giving the user additional options in managing network traffic. The CNGE6FX2TX4PoE is designed for use in unconditioned environments and typically used in perimeter surveillance. 3

  • A8V MIND

    A8V MIND

    Hexagon’s Geosystems presents a portable version of its Accur8vision detection system. A rugged all-in-one solution, the A8V MIND (Mobile Intrusion Detection) is designed to provide flexible protection of critical outdoor infrastructure and objects. Hexagon’s Accur8vision is a volumetric detection system that employs LiDAR technology to safeguard entire areas. Whenever it detects movement in a specified zone, it automatically differentiates a threat from a nonthreat, and immediately notifies security staff if necessary. Person detection is carried out within a radius of 80 meters from this device. Connected remotely via a portable computer device, it enables remote surveillance and does not depend on security staff patrolling the area. 3