Security Consultants – what value do they add?

This is not a personal attack on Security Consultants….

But, what value do they add to the supply chain?

They charge a fee to ‘design’ a system – most system designs I have seen are generally cut and paste, often with complete mish-mash of information.

CCTV consultants

And, how much are they influenced by Manufacturers ‘Come and Learn about us’ events?

I recently heard that a major IP organisation recently paid for a group of Consultants to attend a several day ‘awareness’ event……..with partners…….on board a cruise ship in the Caribbean…….mornings were ‘learning’………afternoons were free to visit the various port stop offs!

Don’t get me wrong, rewarding or thanking for continued loyalty and support is always needed, but as the Security Consultant is pretty darn influential in the supply chain, but doesn’t actually place any orders, it makes it difficult to compete with such grand gestures surely??

A major Security manufacturer used to treat it’s ‘prospective’ customers to a trip to their Factory Plant… just so happened that was combined with a week’s visit to a rather nice part of the world – result? Customers used their products, maybe out of a sense of repayment? The products weren’t even necessarily the best or the cheapest!

So, is our industry and more importantly, the development of products moving forward dependant on the amount of marketing and corporate entertainment budgets companies have?

I sincerely hope not……..and that our industry moves forward through innovation and not persuasion!!!


If you consult for a living and don’t agree with CCTV insider please let us know.


2 Responses to “Security Consultants – what value do they add?”

  1. gygergyger says:

    Firstly a declaration – I am a consultant, but I class myself not as a Security Consultant, but as a Consultant Engineer – I don’t only work on CCTV/Security projects.

    There are two types of security consultants. The first are those that provide the strategy, threat, risk [etc.] type of consulting. At the far end of the spectrum [towards government, military, etc.] this must be quite complicated, and I can understand why they charge a premium for their services. At the near end of the spectrum, it isn’t exactly rocket science, hence the number of former police officers, and the like, making money out of this after retirement on full pension.

    The second type of security consultants are designers/engineers [I am one of these]. At the far end of the spectrum this can be quite complicated and I can understand why they charge a premium [I am a Chartered Engineer with a Masters Degree, and a Fellow of my engineering institution – such qualifications don’t come cheap]. At the near end of the spectrum the field is populated by electricians, former policemen, and the like. This is the root of the problem you raise, I suggest!

    There is some overlap between the two types of consultant but, for both types, the ‘near end of the spectrum’ I mention above is where all the nonsense is talked, the cut-and-pasting goes on, and the trips to manufacturer sites occurs. The usual suspects undertaking this sort of behaviour can be found at all the annual industry events, partaking of the hospitality and back-slapping each other.

    As an Engineer [and not the washing machine repair variety!] it is particularly galling to have former policemen, electricians, et al doing engineering ‘design’ when they are not engineers. There are numerous one-man-bands out there all plying their trades without any qualifications – and I mean academic and professional qualifications, not membership of trade/industry bodies. I expect lots of responses to this from those without academic or professional qualifications – I have heard all the arguments before – but suggest that nobody would want to be operated upon by a surgeon that had only done a bit of chiropody and then joined a Surgeons User Group.

    Turning to the point of the original article, though; I have done lots of design in the past, but the opportunities for this have diminished over the years – quite rightly it is the contractors that undertake final detailed design. What consultants actually do that is of value is setting out the outline design in a clear manner that can be tendered properly/fairly [not that I agree with the way Tendering works nowadays]. This is no small feat in itself – its rather difficult to express a design in a generic manner [in order to elicit competitive/innovative/etc. responses], providing sufficient detail for tendering, without actually going too far and designing the scheme in detail. Further back up the lifecycle, the majority of valuable consultancy work is related to deciphering the gibberish requirements that arise from clients as a result of their ‘expert’ knowledge of technology derived from a visit to Currys/Comet [I have lost count of the number of times clients have told me “…its easy – I can do that on my PC at home…”]. Add to that all the politics, budget restrictions, best-value, culture-change, paradigm-shifts, and it consumes a lot of time getting to the point of tender – all work that contractors wouldnt want to touch with a barge pole.

    So, in essence, the consultant often, and usefully, acts as the ‘bridge’ between the client and the contractor [and all the other parties involved in a project]. When done properly, this can be productive and useful. When done by the usual suspects [the ‘near end of the spectrum’ crew, as described above] , it can be nothing more than a money-making scam.

  2. Tom says:

    thanks for the response – and we at Integrated agree wholeheartedly that this article does not cover the complete Consultancy industry – you lay out exactly what the problem is within the Industry and sadly, we feel that more and more projects are in fact being specified by the ‘near end if the spectrum’ guys, mainly because their connections and influence way heavier than the true ‘good’ guys who simply get on with producing quality specifications but in a more silent and professional manner……..what’s the saying? ‘he who shouts loudest’………….sadly, we don’t think thats the best way