Over the course of two decades, we have deployed hundreds of systems across various vertical markets and settings that range from cruise ships, jails, schools, hospitals, and universities campuses - to name a few. And each deployment is unique, depending on the client, industry, and requirements that are presented on each ocassion. Part of our success has been the ability to reuse a few ideas and find a way to incorporate them towards solving a particular problem or situation. So as we talk about project management for a visitor management system, one word that comes to mind is adaptability, simply because it is necessary to have some flexibility when dealing with unknown and unique situations.
It has been an awesome experience to have collaborated with so many project managers, and work first hand with their preferences and best practices to manage and ensure the success of their projects. With the benefit of hindsight, after each project, we have developed the ability to identify some shared characteristics among the different types of deployments, and extract those characteristics and use them as building blocks (i.e., like Lego pieces) for the next project. After installing so many visitor management systems, perhaps the simplest statement of all these deployments is that: “We are tracking people using technology, rather than paper and pencil.”
Deploying a visitor management system can be a significant task, depending on the magnitude of the system to deploy and requirements that are expected to satisfy. For instance, consider the difference in magnitude in installing a client\server system that consist of one server and two client computers deployed at the main entrance of a building that is expecting 100 visitors per day. Versus, another client\server system that consists of one server, and 50 clients spread over a geographical area that is expecting 3,000 or more visitors per day. Hence, to deploy a visitor management system, an organization should rely on project management to organize resources with coordinated governance to accomplish the goal within a specified time and constraints.
Managing a visitor management project involves having a plan that would outline a roadmap with instructions towards achieving the goal of the putting the system in use. To get started on this journey, we can put together a plan by asking a few questions like: “What do we need to accomplish?”, “What do we need to do?”, “How can we do it?”, “Who can help us?”, and “How much time do we need?” After answering each respective question and organizing them in a sequential order, then we can specify a path towards achieving our end goal. During a project, all the activities should be performed to produce a well-defined set of deliverables. The sum of these successful activities would eventually move the visitor management project closer to completion within the specified budget and time constraints.
It should not be a surprise that the success of a project will depend on those who participate and those who do not. After all, the satisfactory outcome of their contributions will help propel the deployment of the visitor management project forward. Hence, it is important to identify each member and role from both sides. That is, who are the stakeholders from SISCO and the organization. While from organization to organization, hierarchies and titles may differ, we try to identify the following points of contact or stakeholders that have some interest or relation to the task of deploying a visitor management system.
|Sponsor||This can be an individual or a group of staff members, who have authority over the project with executive power. The sponsor has a stake in the success of the project and has authority to specify the scope, allocate resources, and also importantly approve or decline the final result. The sponsor may look over the financial funding and provides protection against distractions, and in some cases against opponents. It is a fact that not everyone agrees, while some will simply look the other way, some will express criticisms, and others will try to cripple the outcome of the project. Hence, a sponsor should be a champion and supporter of deploying a visitor management system because they understand the value that it will bring to the organization.|
|Project Manager||This would be an individual with day-to-day tasks of planning and scheduling.|
|Task Members||People with the right skill set to help drive the project forward. These members may come from different departments and entities that can participate. These individuals are valuable because they provide a unique set of skills that will contribute to the success of the overall project. For instance, some individuals will have special access to specific data and systems.|
|Other Stakeholders||These are other individuals who may not necessarily participate with any task, but have a vested interest in the failure or success. But their valuable input is a contribution that should be considered from the beginning, during, and execution of the installation of the visitor management system. One immediate example, is the legal or compliance department that will be responsible for auditing and reviewing the execution of standards that may include: ethics, legal, regulations, or rules.|
It has been said, that schedules should not be made with optimism but with skepticism. Meaning, that some doubts should be posed for the purpose of planning against obstacles. Keep in mind that schedules are estimates based on judgement, and do not ignore the probability that the schedule may go beyond the intended estimates. And in such cases, you must immediately recognize the bottlenecks and make the necessary adjustments - with a backup plan or through improvisation. Nevertheless, remember that schedules add clarity to the agreed commitments, keeps everyone focus with their contributions, and schedules provides a method tracking the progress of deploying a visitor management system. One approach to mitigate the risk of schedules to overflow out of their time container, is to set small goals and meet regularly to assess the overall progress, and keep an open door to review new information from the rest of the stakeholders.
To manage projects, there are many frameworks and tools available to prepare and organize resources and tasks, and depending on the nature of the project, the most adequate framework and tools should be considered. For the task of managing the deployment of the FAST-PASS 7 visitor management system and other SISCO products, the Plan, Build, Deploy, and Go ("PBDG") framework is straightforward to manage and adjust depending on the magnitude of the deployment (e.g., one server with 5 or 50 client computers).
Plan: With the participation from all the stakeholders, this involves preparing a proposal for achieving the deployment of the visitor management system. This is an opportunity to collect ideas, inventory, procedures, steps, and suggestions, that will turn into action points with intended targets to achieve the end goal. Similarly, it is important to identify key data and configurations.This would be a great time to review FAST-PASS 7 System requirements.
Build: With the participation from stakeholders with corresponding access to resources and skillset, this involves ordering and putting all the components together. Additionally, test and verify the functionality of the components to ensure they are ready and make any necessary adjustments for the next step.
Deploy: Release to the intended user. This will involve the team to install the system to all sites and ensures that is stable and ready for use. Provide training so the user can gain confidence and familiarity to operate the system. This would be a great time to review the Tips for Taking Photos of Visitors, Employees, Students and More.
Go: The culmination of all the effort is to go live and start using the system as it was planned. At the same time identify and make any needed adjustments revealed during the live use of the system. Finally, to ensure continuity report any issues to the support team.
In the example, below let's assume that you have already identified all the stakeholders and that you are meeting today. We present the following Gantt chart as a communication tool to convey the road needed to complete the project. The example below is more than anything intended to provide an overview, the time require will of course depend on the complexity and scope of the project. But more importantly, pay close attention for the PBDG framework and see how you can add subtasks to each of the main categories.
Part of project management involves assessing and remaining vigilant for risks. A risk is the possibility of a negative event affecting the outcome expected. Involves reviewing each step and anticipating the pitfalls that would render the next step a failure. This means anticipating, addressing, reducing, and preventing risks that would hinder the deployment of a visitor management system.
While project management and business strategy are different topics, they are not and should be mutually exclusive to one another. They should commingle to bring value to the organization. While the project manager, may not be responsible for defining and realizing a business strategy - that’s normally defined at the executive level. A project manager should understand the value of bringing a visitor management system to the organization. For example, the successful implementation of the visitor management will make the organization compliant with rules and regulations. Likewise, the success of the project will make the facilities of the organization one of the safest and most secure in the community. Also, the success will enable the collection of data that can be used to perform analysis and improve the facility and experience of staff and visitors. At the outset, if a project manager understands the value, then they will have insight with clear reasons why the visitor management project must succeed.
Erci Moisa, MBA