When’s the last time you reviewed the services that your security integrator is offering?  If it’s been more than a year, or perhaps even a few months, I’m certain that you’ll find that there are more choices and greater flexibility in the deployment of those choices.  I believe in accomplishing as much access control work as possible “in-house” with our existing staff and also expanding our services – thus expanding our staff.  I used to be quite resistant to contracting out services. However, just as our own organizations are making adjustments and adapting to volatile markets, many integrators also see these changes as opportunities for growth.  These are opportunities for growth for end users as well, as accomplishing everything “in-house” may not be an efficient utilization of resources. 

I’ve referred to security integrators as partners in the past, and that relationship is becoming more important each day.  First, driven by exciting advancements in security technology and physical security devices right down to, for example, a wireless electrified door lockset. Now, with increasing demands on your staff and physical security resources, it’s time again to enlist the assistance of your security integrator.  Contracting services from your integrator need not be a threat to your current staffing. Offloading one or two control center functions, such as alarm monitoring, has been common practice for decades.  This has allowed the focus in many control centers to expand their surveillance capabilities, for example.

There are integrators that, right now, have the capabilities to take over all of your access control, alarm monitoring, telephone and dispatching services, for example. That would be an extreme change for some of us, perhaps not a major leap for others. That’s what I find most appealing about this kind of shift to increased integrator services that seemed to begin three or four years ago. There has been a notable shift amongst integrator services to a “what do you need us to do and we’ll find a way to do it” services model. There are options for hybrid partnerships – for example, off-site hosting for your surveillance and access control databases.  Consider partial service/maintenance agreements that supplement your in house staffs – again, adapting to changing times and increasing workloads. 

To be clear, I’m certainly not suggesting replacing anyone on your staff by outsourcing. My coworkers do read this magazine. This isn’t a hint. For some security managers, unfortunately, there may not be a choice. Recall the science of security metrics. This is not the time for force reductions and funding cuts in physical security and loss prevention – it’s quite the contrary.  Your metrics should support this. I’m encouraging the consideration (again) of including external partnerships in your metrics. 

We tend to be a conservative, template based, if you will, profession; as it should be. There isn’t room for carelessness in our industry. That said, there is no rule against security professionals being creative. I challenge you to be creative, as I am challenging myself daily. Do you have a member of your team that is bogged down by duties that could be handed off to your integrator? Could that team member, for example, develop programming that could be delivered as an employee development initiative on crime or loss prevention? Could a team member of yours lead a company/institutional team, comprised of staffs from other (non-security) departments to conduct physical security surveys?  This is a column about access control, after all, and physical security surveys should be step one prior to adding additional access controls.

Continue to gather information and data, complete benchmarking and metrics.  Include the role of every member of your security department. Could they be utilized in an expanded role, given extra responsibilities if freed from some traditional responsibilities? Get their input. Let them know what’s out there. Consider including your integrator at your next department meeting. Let’s call this due diligence based creativity.