I’ve written previously about the need to embrace our corporate or institutional culture and the language of business into enterprise physical security. All too often, we practical folks engaged in the day-to-day operations of our departments dismiss these concepts as superfluous or mere hoops to jump through to please some higher authority. As I’ve been known to preach about, regularly, is the need to market our services to our customers, both internal and external.  One “corporate speak” method of marketing our work with the value added benefit of guiding our decision making is in the form of value statements.

I won’t attempt to write a primer on writing value statements here. There are numerous sources of information available for doing that. Simply put, a value statement is an expression of your core beliefs. They can be as simple as words to the effect of, customer service is job one.  That would be too simple of a statement in our business, in my opinion, but I hope that you get the idea. These are typically expressed along with mission statements and the like. Again, I won’t go into all of that here.  What I will go into is this: put yourself in the place of someone who uses their card to access spaces in your facility and/or one who enters through a staffed ID checkpoint. What would you value? If you can’t envision too many examples, just ask a few of your customers who use these services.

Here’s something along the lines of what I’ve found: users want convenience, simplicity and virtually invisible access to where they need to go. I’m sure that you know this too. By invisible, I’m referring to something I was told decades ago by a security director, which is “Security should be like oxygen. No one notices it until it’s gone.” This is likely not original, but it is certainly applicable in about a hundred different applications in our day-to-day work.  The typical users have no interest in the nuts and bolts of access and ID and likely little concern for your operational challenges to providing those services – so keep it out of your values! Yes, separate operations from values. Values shall guide us operationally and not the other way around – I know, it’s heresy to many of us.

Here’s an example or two of where to start some simple values statements where I was advised to start. In access control, it is the security access control department’s responsibility to provide the most convenient form of access to employee workspaces. In ID checkpoints, it is the security department’s responsibility to provide fast and friendly entry through ID checkpoints to our valued customers and visitors. Yes, it’s that simple. Does this seem obvious to you? It did to me; however, I carried a value statement similar to these and visited a few places in my span of control. The results were both interesting and valuable. But is it really simple?

It’s very simple to establish values based on principles of convenience, courtesy and prompt service. Of course, delivering those services is another matter; you know I get that, but what a great place to start! Get your staff together for an informal meeting about access controls.  Write your mission statement on the board, or use something like this, “…to provide a safe and secure environment for our…” business, research, classes, as appropriate for your operation. Then, proceed to throw out concepts such as providing the most convenient form of access, fast and friendly entrance to areas and see where it leads. Keep the discussions general at first and avoid drilling down to operational needs. Yet, be sure to keep note of operational needs during such conversations for the next steps. What are the next steps? If you’re not sure, keep reading this column. My best wishes to all of my colleagues in the security enterprise for a successful and prosperous 2012!