Convincing C-suite executives to approve budgets for security system upgrades may be difficult in the best of times. However, the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting financial upheaval it caused may make selling new projects more challenging for security directors.

While security may not be a daily topic of discussion among C-suite members, they understand the need to provide and maintain a safe and secure environment for corporate employees and visitors. But they don’t see security in terms of a camera brand or access card technology. They view security in terms of risk management and mitigation strategies. Addressing those concerns in any project plan will increase its chances of it winning approval.

From the outset, creating and presenting a proposal may be overwhelming to a security director already tasked with the day-to-day responsibilities of running a department. That’s why it’s a good idea to select an enterprise-level security integrator to act as a partner in developing a plan and educating top executives. The integrator should be involved in the project from start to finish – and beyond for service and maintenance.

A project’s initial price is always a factor but concerns about costs may be overcome if the plan projects a solid return on investment (ROI). An experienced integrator may suggest non-traditional uses of security assets shared with multiple corporate departments. Once convinced of the benefits, department heads may be willing to lend both their support and a portion of their budgets to help move a project toward approval.

Let’s take a look at a few examples of shared projects that also provide ROI.

Mobile credentialing provides convenience and cost savings. It’s an ideal solution for utilities with remote unmanned substations. An emailed credential and app turn a vendor’s smartphone into a smart key enabling access to a facility without the need for a company escort. The maintenance department saves time and the cost of fuel. Widespread corporate use of mobile credentials eliminates the need to buy, store and print access control cards. An organization with 1,000 employees may spend thousands of dollars annually adding and replacing plastic cards.

Biometrics readers may offer similar cost savings. Door-mounted readers enable employees to enter buildings, elevators and offices without carrying cards or needing to remember PINs. In the COVID-19 era, contactless biometric technologies such as facial or iris recognition may help reduce the spread of disease. More human resource departments are integrating the readers with payroll software to create time clocks capable of eliminating an expensive fraud known as buddy punching (clocking in for another employee).

A combination of video and access control helps manufacturing and food processing facilities to avoid hefty fines by proving compliance with government staffing and health and safety regulations. For example, audit trails confirm employees were where they were supposed to be as assigned. And live and recorded video shows they followed sanitary procedures or properly stored equipment.

Mobile video has been instrumental in improving the security of passengers using public transportation. The agencies’ legal departments use recorded video to help debunk fraudulent liability claims. One eastern U.S. metropolitan system reported a mobile system installed on hundreds of buses and light rail cars more than paid for itself in less than a year.

These are only a few possible examples of out-of-the-box thinking that’s more likely to gain C-suite approval. The scope of today’s security projects is limited only by the experience – and imagination – of a security director and integrator partner.

Here are a few other points to keep in mind when preparing a security budget for the C-suite. "Future-proof" the plan with scalable systems capable of expanding as the organization grows. Also, look for newer technologies that extend capabilities and enable an organization to react more quickly to rapidly changing situations.

A true partnership between the security director and integrator creates the environment needed to foster innovation leading to a more safe and secure program. Innovation often drives down the overall cost of security and that’s something every C-suite executive will appreciate.

Executives will value a plan that highlights deterring rather than detecting and then reacting to events. A strategy based on deterrence denies a criminal the information and access required to execute an attack. Stopping, or at least delaying, an attack before it penetrates a physical or virtual perimeter can prevent injuries to people and damage to valuable assets. Multiple layers of integrated security help ensure a successful project.

A well-planned, monitored and maintained security system also helps meet a legal obligation known as duty of care, which establishes an organization’s dedication to protecting its employees, visitors and vendors. This may eliminate negligence claims that could add to costly liability lawsuits in the event of injuries resulting from security breaches.

It’s possible by the time the security director and integrator present their plan to the C-suite, the decision to take action may have been made and budgets allocated. What the executives need then are assurances the team executing the project has successfully done so at the enterprise level.

Finally, once a plan is approved, installed and working as intended, continue to engage the top executives with reports backing up initial ROI and cost savings estimates. Educating the C-suite now may make it easier to gain approval for the next funding request.