Magazine article Security Management

Seven Steps to Quality Security

Magazine article Security Management

Seven Steps to Quality Security

Article excerpt

The security department at St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix, a research facility, faced the routine problems that plague most proprietary security departments: budgetary difficulties, employee apathy, and pressure from senior management to do more with less. The security manager found that the key to success was to run the in-house operation as if it were a contract firm that had to earn the right to retain its business. The concept is one that could be adapted to work in any security setting.

By following a seven step process, the security manager at St. Joseph's - which was housed in a four-story building spanning 80,000 square feet - redesigned and refocused departmental philosophy to make service and consulting the central themes. This change brought security more in line with business principles, added value to the security process, and enhanced the overall security of the organization.

Step one. Identify customers. Security managers must begin the process of improving performance by first identifying all internal and external customers of security services. Those responsible for security must then determine what the customers want and how security can tell whether they are satisfied with the quality of service provided.

Considering the answers to these questions, security managers can develop a customer profile. Through the profile, security personnel can determine how to deliver the appropriate type and level of security services to customers based on their specific needs and expectations.

To identify its customers, the security department at St. Joseph's conducted individual interviews with all department heads and representatives from each of the facility's ten laboratories. Security personnel asked employees a variety of questions about the security needs of individual departments. Major security issues were discussed, such as access control and CCTV, as well as the more peripheral needs of the employees, such as the overall sense of the adequacy of security services available to them at the facility. Department heads and supervisors then asked for opinions from individual employees.

Department heads were encouraged to hold brainstorming sessions with employees regarding security and how it could be improved. These comprehensive meetings were held only once; however, employees were assured that any additional comments on security they might have later would be welcome by security personnel. With the loop established, the security department now receives a steady stream of much needed feedback.

Step two. Focus on the customer. Some security managers have lost sight of their key customers - employees. In cases where security managers view employees as troublemakers for the security department, a breakdown in understanding occurs. A breakdown can also occur if security systems and policies hinder achievement of the company's general goals. If hardware and procedures used to deter attack create unworkable situations for the people using the facility, these may not be the appropriate security measures.

The approach should be: "How can we help you to do your job while still securing the facility?" But first, the security department must understand the customer's perspective and be committed to helping shape security with that perspective in mind.

Before the managers redesigned the security program at St. Joseph's, the department was militaristic and ran according to strict rules, regulations, and operating procedures. Security managers found, however, that the focus became following rules rather than satisfying customers.

To change the focus, security personnel at St. Joseph's began small, contacting employees and asking for their opinions on a particular topic - the security department's ground patrol. Under the existing policy, the patrol, which was tightly scheduled, covered primarily the exterior of the building and outlying areas of the hospital campus. …

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