Home » My Turn: Breaking the “Mystery” of Investigations Success
My Turn: Breaking the “Mystery” of Investigations Success
During this period of economic downturn, every company is faced with identifying cost savings wherever possible. As security is considered by most to be an overhead item, or at least a shared service, companies are struggling to maintain the delicate balance between cost effectiveness and quality security processes.
It is certain that criminal activity is not going to cease or shrink; in fact, a reasonable person would forecast that it will increase as times get more difficult. It is also certain that companies must address issues as they occur, and before they fester and multiply.
It is also reasonable to assume that most companies are not fiscally positioned to add additional security staff. Combating rising criminal activity, while simultaneously developing pro-active security procedures to reduce vulnerabilities and future litigation, must continue.
The solution is outsourcing to an entity with capabilities of providing these services on an “as needed” basis. That entity must, however, have the ability to approach each assignment or project from an insider perspective.
How is this accomplished effectively? Should the company rely upon its contract security provider? Perhaps, but only if the contract company has a resource capable of providing all that is needed to meet the tasks assigned. Objectivity is paramount, based upon the provider’s motivation to retain the security contract above all other interests.
Today, however, many successful contract security providers, who do not have a consulting and investigations arm, are aligning themselves with a professional source to provide such services to their core business base. This injects value into the relationship with the core business client and reduces opportunity for the client to seek remedies elsewhere, perhaps from a competitor.
Successful consulting and investigations firms demand a total commitment to fully understand the needs of the client, coupled with the capabilities to address the requirements. It requires a professional global network and the ability to bring resources to the project that will deliver a solution beyond customer expectations. In such a relationship, the consulting and investigations management firm is totally responsible for the coordination, management, quality assurance and delivery of work product to the client.
To provide an analogy, if you wanted to build a house, who would you contact to do so—a plumber, an electrician, a mason? It is doubtful that any single source could deliver the completed home. While each may be best in class in their particular trade, relying on the capabilities of a professional general contractor who understands objectives and applies the best resources to the project, monitoring the entire project through completion, step by step, while coordinating the individual efforts, would be a wise and cost-effective method.
This is not dissimilar to the role of the professional security and investigative consultancy. The desired objectives are addressed through application of long-term relationships with best-in-class specialists in individual skills and disciplines. The best forensic photographic professional may not possess the skill set to conduct an investigative interview. The most proficient interviewer may not have the capabilities or the resources to conduct the in-depth due diligence required to identify linkage of corporate relationships, and so on. It is the consultancy that brings it all together and collates efforts to produce an exemplary work product.
A Network of Professionals
This is not an easy proposition. It takes many years of relationship and global network development. The qualified firm will have access to professionals in nearly every discipline imaginable.
A well-rounded consulting and investigations management firm will have direct access to task-specific investigative professionals, analytical research teams, credentialed physical security professionals and engineers, access control resources, computer forensic experts, executive protection specialists, crisis management and business continuity consultants, and other professional response teams capable of delivering a quality, responsive work product.
It is unlikely that many corporations today possess the internal resources to execute these and more, particularly on a global basis.
A consultancy partner should provide a professional information network, immediate response capabilities, analytical research prowess, global resources, reputation, accreditation, certifications and a track record of excellence. The partner must offer return on investment for each dollar spent, no exception.
Lacking a single point of contact, the client company must assess what they feel might be the solution, contact the individual provider of such specific services, vet them for insurance limits, licenses, experience and the like, and then engage in a relationship.
Should additional or ancillary services be required, the company must then repeat the process and closely coordinate all activity internally in an effort to satisfy the total need. They then must collate the invoices presented and pay each provider separately. As new challenges arise the process repeats itself; however, all the resources previously used may be involved in other projects, be out of business or otherwise unavailable, requiring additional legwork.
It costs no more and most likely less, to engage a single resource for all impending requirements, before they arise, by utilization of as a professional consulting and investigations firm. This is due to the relationships already in place and the fees negotiated based upon the discipline required. A professional firm will only use those with a track record of delivery of the desired work product. In a professional consultancy, these relationships may extend back many years of working together.
Plan Ahead for the Best Outcome
Should a company be concerned that the application of an outside firm’s capabilities infringe on proprietary issues, this is remedied by execution of a non-disclosure agreement prior to assignment. Most cases fall within a fiduciary relationship and are protected under an attorney-work-product confidentiality umbrella. Information developed and resulting work product is presented to in-house or outside counsel for distribution as necessary.
As the role of the outsourced security consulting and investigations firm is becoming increasingly prevalent and of increased value due to shrinkage of the corporate tables of organization, it is prudent to plan ahead. While it should cost little to nothing to establish a one-stop resource for coordination of efforts upon notification, preparation is a crucial element in the mix.
As evidenced by Hurricane Katrina, the evacuation of ex-pats from Lebanon, increased terrorist activity and numerous other tragic experiences where clients required immediate response, it is important to develop the relationship before the incident.
Once the professional relationship is established, whether utilized immediately or not, the prepared client now has a partner to fully rely upon when the unforeseen arises, and the peace of mind that in time of trouble and turbulence, there will be a shared concern and an effective response.
Certification Pays Off
It is vital that those professionals with unique skill sets possess recognized, accredited certifications in their field of endeavor. Topping this list would be those offered by ASIS International, which offers its members three board certifications: Certified Protection Professional (CPP), Professional Certified Investigator (PCI) and Physical Security Professional (PSP).
Others certifications include the Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) for accountancy efforts, Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) for computer-related assignments and other more discipline-specific certifications.
Unfortunately, post 9-11 our industry was inundated with the marketing of “purchase a designation” sources, so prudent care and due diligence must be taken to rely upon only those possessing well-recognized, authentic credentials, coupled with seasoned industry experience.
I want to hear from you. Tell me how we can improve.
Edward P. De Lise, CPP, is senior vice president of W.T Hill & Associates, LLC a professional Security and Investigative Consulting firm in Palm Beach, Fla. He has more than 34 years of experience in the investigations of internal theft, pilferage, sabotage and narcotics.
This month in Security magazine, we examine how physical security leaders are being propelled into a unique position of revenue preservers and risk managers for their businesses. In addition, we profile Scott Ashworth, Director of Security for Atlanta United. Also, security leaders discuss how to develop cybersecurity careers, election security, data protection strategies, measuring and reporting security operations maturity and more!