Buying your next security system: five steps to optimize your investment

Deciding which security system to purchase demands careful consideration. After all, security systems can last for five years or more, so weighing up all relevant factors at the start can lead to significant cost savings and an improved return on your investment (ROI) in the long run.

While it may feel daunting, there are five straightforward steps you can follow to ensure you are making the most of your investment. Following these steps enables you to decide on the right security system for your organization, while also optimizing your investment.

Step one: Choose the camera according to the value it adds

It may seem obvious but as an initial step, ask yourself “Why are you buying cameras?” Device price and features are important considerations, but it’s vital to understand what your organization needs the cameras to do before you start to weigh up the value of the different functions on offer in each.

Clarity here is vital to figuring out if the cameras on your short list will perform in the way you need or provide the evidence you require. For example, are you installing a security system to protect profits in a retail environment by tackling theft and fraud? Are you aiming to optimize production and avoid downtime in a factory? Or are you looking to ensure the safety and security of your employees and passengers in a public transport setting?

There are many different ways in which security systems can be deployed to help your organization – from improving security to creating business value. Narrowing down why exactly you are purchasing the system is a key first step to ensuring you are set up to optimize your investment.

Step two: Calculate how the device influences the rest of the system

Next, you will need to figure out how your camera choice affects the rest of the system. Storage is an obvious factor in this calculation. More inexpensive cameras may seem appealing but if their compression technology is limited to reducing bitrate to lower bandwidth and storage requirements, that saving comes at the cost of quality footage – jeopardizing the very reason you’re installing the system in the first place. On the other hand, more sophisticated cameras may have a higher initial cost but come equipped with intelligent algorithms that preserve relevant forensic information in full resolution and at full frame rate while requiring a lot less storage space. As a result, you can recoup the initial price through lower storage costs in the years to come.

Yet storage requirements and costs are only one piece of the calculation to consider at this point. What about ease of installation? Or how fast it will be to configure the devices and add everything to your system?

It’s also worth thinking about what accessories you will require to ensure the security system meets your objectives if you choose certain camera models. For example, if the cameras you have chosen require extra accessories to mount, this will have a knock-on impact on installation – making it slower and more costly than initially predicted. If you realize this on the day of installation, there is a significant risk of delays to the whole project. To optimize a security system investment, the full picture of all costs – not just the devices themselves – is important.

Step three: Estimate the cost of using and running the system

It’s also important to ask, ‘what happens once the system is up and running?’ This step is often overlooked: some may accept the system’s operational costs as the natural cost of doing business, while others may not put too much thought into it if it ends up under another department’s budget.

Yet spending some time to think about the costs required to keep the system up and running is important for all decision makers involved in purchasing a security system: it’s where the bigger losses creep in. While it might not affect you or your department directly, it impacts your organization. And if your company loses money through the system’s high running costs, it could eventually impact your budget too.

So, consider electricity usage, required maintenance and the costs to monitor the system – how do the different cameras on your shortlist impact these costs?

  • How much energy do these cameras consume during use and how does that impact your electricity bill?
  • How much storage do you need for these specific cameras, and how does that impact your electricity costs in the long-run?
  • And do these cameras offer any smart functionality to reduce overall costs? For instance, do they offer superior analytics performance through deep learning and edge analytics, minimizing false alarms and speeding up forensic search to reduce operational costs?

The devices you choose will ultimately impact all the costs to come throughout the security system’s lifecycle.

Step four: Predict the impact the system will have on the business

Once you have mapped out the bigger picture cost implications for the cameras on your shortlist, consider the end result: how will the system help your business? Will it drive greater efficiency, reduce theft, improve the service you provide to customers, improve employee retention by creating a safer workplace?

Ultimately, the correct security system for your organization can create business value, which translates to improving the bottom line. It’s important to quantify how the security system will impact your business so you can weigh those benefits up against the total costs when making your decision.

Thinking this through often involves collaboration across departments, ensuring the bigger picture of the system’s impact on the business as a whole is considered. As an added benefit, cross-departmental cooperation also opens up the possibility of tapping into bigger budgets and getting additional buy-in on the surveillance system as well as the advantages it can bring to the business.

Step five: Make the best decision for your organization

This final step is about evaluating the information you have uncovered in the previous stages, and factoring all of those insights into your final decision. As long as you are taking some new insight from this process, whether considering the value add of the device you are choosing or calculating its associated running costs, you are taking a step in the right direction – moving from purchasing a security system to making an investment that can reap better rewards for your organization.

Completing this exercise of working through the various scenarios attached to purchasing different security devices will set you up to optimize the system you buy to your company’s benefit. Rather than making a choice based on upfront cost, you are making a decision with the long-term view in mind and reducing the risk of unpleasant surprise costs cropping up in the years to come.

Working with the right partner to select the right system

Importantly, you don’t need to do this alone. The process of asking these questions helps you identify which partners are invested in your organization’s long-term success.

It’s critical to find the right partner who will work through these scenarios with you to find the system that works in your best interest – both in terms of a total cost of ownership that works for you and a system that meets your requirements to drive long-term value.

Read more about the smart solutions that can lower your security system’s running costs.

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