When preparing for a presentation to security colleagues and when writing this column, I often wonder if I am merely stating the obvious to the majority of the audience. I often test this theory when speaking informally with colleagues from different institutions.
I have found that when I introduce what I believe to be new information to my “test group,” some nod knowingly, yet others begin to ask really good questions. What was once a departmental goal, now a metric that I work with frequently is “Internal and External Business Relationships and Partnerships.” One internal partnership that first comes to mind is with the marketing department. This relationship exists to ensure that access/ID cards are incorporating current branding initiatives. Are your cards a component of your brand? Should they be?
Just as I carefully examine locking hardware, card readers, cameras, I check out the various styles of ID cards and lanyards that have become a fashion accessory at popular lunch locales. It is interesting how an ID card can send a message about a corporation or organization...if the name or logo of the entity is even on the cards. Blank cards, kept tucked away for security purposes were common, often a best practice at one time and still have their place in security applications.
Be it signs, buildings, advertising, or business cards—there is a tendency to judge the quality of a business based on such things, especially upon first impression—whether it is the person answering the phone or greeting you as you enter the premises. Take a look at your access/ID card. Does it paint a picture of quality in your mind? Is it consistent with the quality of your other printed materials? Perhaps you have a policy that access/ID cards are not worn or displayed off the premises. In that case, how does that card represent your own department—branded or not?
Security managers and the security profession itself have been fighting for the consideration and professional reputation that it deserves. What began as tracking statistics such as response times and calls for service has been evolving into full-fledged business metrics for many of us in the
As security professionals, we are likely to have the most experience in defending our existence amongst the other constituencies in our respective worlds. This could lead to an internal partnership. To me, the focus has to remain on goals, outcomes and the marketing of positive outcomes. It can be motivational to market all of the great things that the security department does every day, so if you aren’t marketing yourself and your department’s role in your corporation, organization, or institution—it’s time to get moving.
Good metrics are a great basis for good marketing. Your efforts can involve researchers, analysts, and or consultants or something informal and quite simple. Enlist an internal partner, a colleague, a friend in the building from outside of your own department to give their perspective on those matters we tend to consider routine.
These require a carefully considered, security conscious and conservative approach -- a financial partnership. It’s common in college/university circles to have a financial partner in the access/ID services -- often a bank or dining service, among others. The partnership is typically with an ID office or “one card” department that is not under the purview of the security department.
For example, as cell phones were entering the marketplace, they were expensive compared to today -- too expensive for many public safety leaders to adopt the technology, until cellular companies offered free equipment and service in exchange for advertising on squad cars. It made sense fiscally and saved tax dollars. Yet, the efforts typically resulted in a public relations nightmare.
In taking a bold step in gaining a financial partner, the perception, virtually immediate, was that the cellular company had an unfair business advantage with a public entity. Worse still, the perception that the cellular company might be free from the scrutiny of law enforcement prevailed in public opinion.
Consider your external relationships and partnerships as well, particularly those which involve your access/ID programs. View metrics as marketing that might not only keep your security organization budget at the status quo—it might increase it. Be creative. Stay motivated—many others have joined us now in defending our existences. I believe it’s time to join forces.