Officers: In-house or Outsource?
The benefits of outsourcing security officers or operating a proprietary force are variable, dependent upon the nature and situation of your organization.
Here are reasons to use contract security, according to Joe Ricci, executive director of the National Association of Security Companies (NASCO).
- Reduce administrative, office and operational overhead to recruit, screen, license, train, schedule, uniform, manage and pay security officers.
- Increase efficiency and productivity by concentrating on core security and business functions.
- Improve management of officers and quality due to focus of the contractor.
- Increase ability to define the service requirements.
- Access specific supplier benefits, economies of scale and “learned” best practices, i.e., recruiting, screening, training, management, post-orders, scheduling, payroll and operations.
- Increase flexibility to meet changing business and security conditions.
- Spread risk and liability. This is the single most compelling reason. Companies with proprietary programs are liable for any incident resulting from the action or inaction of their officers, as well as deficiencies in the training, operation and management of their program, adds Dan Rakestraw, president, Valor Security Services.
- Leverage contractors project management experience, security expertise and investment in people, equipment and technology.
- Minimize requirements to track and implement changing standards.
- Reduce costs and lower ongoing investment required in internal infrastructure, turning fixed costs into variable costs.
Says Ricci, the Outsourcing Institute finds “outsourcing is rapidly becoming an accepted management tool for redefining and re- energizing the corporation. It challenges today’s executives to rethink the traditional, vertically integrated firm in favor of a more flexible organization structured around core competencies and long-term, outside relationships.”
PROPRIETARY ADVANTAGESThere are advantages to a proprietary operation, according to Michael Stroberger, CPP, director of loss prevention with an internationally known luxury hospitality company, who takes a look at some of the commonly held beliefs which support the argument for keeping security in-house.
Tighter Control and Supervision. One of the primary motivations for most proprietary operations is the ability to closely control, correct and modify behaviors. Although contracts with outside vendors typically allow for some level of control, usually in the form of being able to ask for reassignment of persons when required, there is certainly a much greater level of ability to correct or modify the performance of personnel which you directly employ.
Better Training. In most cases, the operation which maintains staff in-house has the ability to provide more extensive, continuous training to the personnel who perform the security function. Largely, this is related to the fact that a facility or company which chooses this route enters into it expecting to have to maintain such support. The benefits are obvious, of course. Better training usually equates to better performance, and has a dramatic impact on both the quality of applicants, once a program is recognized for its level of quality, and also the pride and dedication of those experiencing this training.
Employee Loyalty. Maintaining security operations within your own organization creates a much stronger sense of ownership, as compared to bringing in persons perceived to be “outsiders.” This, in turn, often creates a sense of loyalty among the employee population, as they are more likely to see the officers as part of their own team, and among the officers, who are more likely to identify with the rest of the employee population, and act in support of them. Certainly, as an employee gains experience, and longevity in a given company, their sense of ownership is likely to grow.
Culture Integration. It is often far easier to achieve a high level of integration into a given companies culture or values when one is directly employed by that company. Strongly related to the previous point on Loyalty, this involvement in and support of the workplace culture, is a critical component in gaining acceptance, support and compliance. One pitfall with bringing in outside vendors is that they are more likely to be seen as “outsiders,” and therefore may have significant challenges in being accepted into the culture.
Support of Company Interests. When an officer has both an increased level of loyalty to the company and has become integrated more fully into the culture, it is logical that they then act more willingly and actively in support of the company interests. Persons with a personal, vested interest in the long-term success of an employer will logically be more motivated to stretch themselves in actively promoting that success. The perception is often that contracted personnel are less likely to reach this level of involvement, as the belief is that they can simply be moved to another contact site, should the current location no longer need them, want them or be able to continue employing them.
Officer Experience. One of the benefits of the previously mentioned aspects of better training, loyalty and cultural integration is the tendency for proprietary officers to continue their employment for longer periods of time than their contracted counterparts. Coupled with the fact that proprietary operations often offer entry level salaries above those that could be offered by an outside service which might be employed to provide the same level of staffing, this usually results in persons with increased levels of experience being attracted to the employer, and also the development of experience and familiarity over longer periods of continued employment.