Magazine article Security Management

The Secret of a Successful Team

Magazine article Security Management

The Secret of a Successful Team

Article excerpt

The secret to a good partnership with a security service provider - like the secret to a good marriage - is in both the selection process and the willingness to work together over the long haul. Success comes to those who take the time to choose their partner well and who base their choice on the right criteria. In business, that means taking the time to check a service provider's finances, commitment to quality, and staff including training, salary, and ability to match staff skills to the job. It also means sustaining the relationship through open communication and verifiable performance standards.

Know thyself. Before beginning to select a vendor the security manager must assess his or her company's needs through a thorough risk analysis and threat assessment. The security manager should also obtain senior management approval regarding the budget available for the services being sought. As elementary as this sounds, these basic steps are often skipped.

Selection criteria. After the bids have come in (or perhaps as a part of the prequalification of a select group of vendors that will be asked to bid on the project), the best providers should be identified not just from an appealing fee for service but also by a careful scrutiny of the following issues. (The bid process itself is also important but not the focus of this article.)

Financial stability. It isn't in the best interest of the company to hire a service provider that will fold within a year. To ensure that this does not happen, the security manager should investigate the vendor company's financial stability. This is especially important when evaluating small local service providers. Some small businesses suffer from a shortage of capital, and their cash flow is erratic. Situations such as an inability to make payroll usually lead to worker agitation and turnover. Although large national companies do not usually suffer from these financial ills, they should not be excluded from investigation.

All prospective companies should be asked to provide financial statements. Annual reports are also helpful. In addition to asking for an income statement, which is the norm, the hiring company should ask to see a copy of the service provider's cash flow and working capital statement (normally sent to a firm's bank on a monthly basis). These numbers will provide invaluable insights into the company's financial health.

Another way to check for financial stability is by searching local public records. For example, if federal or state tax liens are on file, they may signal a weak financial condition. The penalties for not paying payroll taxes on time are severe, and if a company has a history of such penalties, it shows either a poor financial condition or poor business practices.

It is also important to check for evidence of past and present civil litigation. A company may be headed for trouble if there is an outstanding civil judgment or if there is a large contingent liability associated with a current lawsuit.

Commitment to quality. Quality should be defined in terms of service delivery. The security manager should discuss with all potential service providers their commitment to setting and meeting a high standard of service. For example, the vendors should be asked to present standards for frequency of on-time shift starts and post order deviations, as well as standards for incident reports (such as timeliness, content, and legibility) and performance evaluations.

Can the vendor actually provide the level of service it says it will? Past performance is a good indicator of future performance, so the security manager should talk at length with a few former or current clients of each vendor, asking specifically how services actually provided by the vendor compared with the service promised.

Former clients should also be asked why they no longer use the vendor. When requesting this former customer list from the vendor, the security manager should make sure to specify that the list not include former clients who parted ways with the vendor more than a year previously. …

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