It's an exciting time to be an entrepreneur in the electronic security industry! Last month SDM reported, in its 2004 Forecast Study ("More Optimism than Caution," Jan. 2004, p. 36; and on this site) that dealers and integrators are more optimistic this year than last about their prospects for better sales and revenue. With capital spending by businesses seemingly growing, dealers and integrators will be sure to snatch a portion of the dollars that are now gently flowing for security improvements. But, they also admit competition will be tougher, and it will become more complicated to distinguish yourself from your competitors.

From one end of the market to the other, security is largely a referral business. One of the best ways to stand out from the crowd is through the competence of your technical and design teams. A highly trained and well-led team will lead your company to not only more sales, but optimal profits, too.

Within my first few years of working in the publishing industry, my employer sent me to a seminar on the subject of Project Management. The one-day course helped me extensively on the job – and even in my personal life – by teaching me the skills to professionally "roll with the punches."

In many of our jobs, most of the tasks we do can be characterized as "projects" of varying scope and length. What they all usually have in common is a starting point, an ending point, and multiple steps in between – oh…and a budget. We've all observed employees, colleagues, or friends who've been responsible for projects that have gone awry because of initial poor planning or poor judgement along the way.

One of the things I learned in my simple $99 course is to create a schedule for even the smallest of the project's tasks, and to implement a backup plan if that task strays off schedule. But my little seminar is small potatoes compared with the training available for you today.

Just announced – and to be formally introduced at next month's ISC West – is a program that will provide your company with a strategic tool for earning a huge competitive edge. The Security Industry Association, through the efforts of Nadim Sawaya, an SDM contributing writer, will introduce the Security Project Manager Certification program. The goal of the program is "to provide a rigorous professional credentialing program for project managers in the security industry, and…certify individuals who have demonstrated their proficiency in every aspect of project management as it relates to security systems integration." All professional security systems integrators should enroll in this program, even if your project managers have another certification under their belt. This program is designed specifically for the security industry.