When something goes wrong and the security operations in an estate fail to deliver as required or expected, someone gets the blame and all too often the blame game starts when one person blames another who blames the security service provider which then blames someone else and so on. This is obviously good for creating confusion and avoiding responsibility, but it doesn’t help improving the security posture of an estate.
Where does the buck really stop in estate security? It’s not a matter of having someone to blame, but fixing a process, improving technology utilisation or updating the training processes or guards etc. Hi-Tech Security Solutions asked Ian Downie, group executive, sales and marketing at Xone Integrated Security who needs to have the broad shoulders, but more importantly, how to avoid failures in the first place.
When something goes wrong with estate security, Downie says there should already be a clear mandate and chain of command. “As such, the HOA must have a clearly defined constitution which provides the framework for this. It will allow for a management team/person who then allocates duties and responsibilities to staff and external service providers. If this scope is clearly defined, it becomes clear who is responsible, for what, and the logical pointsman for grievances and the like.”
The right SLA and SOP
He also adds that service-level agreements (SLAs) are critical when dealing with third-party security providers. He notes that if an SLA is correctly drawn up, it is a very powerful tool for defining exactly how operations should take place. Being linked to fully detailed SOP (standard operating procedures) and even a penalty matrix will allow for exacting standards.
“In our case, it can take three months of a full set of teams working to draw up such an SLA with the right level of detail,” Downie says. “These can then be managed very specifically to track performance. In our instance, we benchmark performance against ISO standards, which are audited independently.”
If there is something that doesn’t happen in the right fashion, or goes wrong, then it is seen as a non-conformance and there is a specific set of rectifications, consequences and records that are applied to understand what went wrong, how to rectify it and avoid it occurring in the future.
“Part of this process is to clearly define who the people at fault were, and how to measure and improve their actions. This is integrally linked to Command and Control which needs to be created as part of this set of initiatives.”
Not a solo effort
For estates about to sign new contracts or which are about to embark on technology upgrades, the preparation phase is critical to ensure they can expect certain levels of service and performance – and actually get them?
Downie explains it is crucial to have significant engagement by key staff and management in all aspects of the SLA, SOP and penalty matrixes. The company to be appointed should have a team creating these. In the case of security services and manpower, he says the team will include a logistics head, recruitment head, training head, quality control head, technology head, contracting head, account management head, IMS head and procedure management/writing head.
“Expectations need to be clearly defined, agreed to and structured in a way that will allow management, continuous improvement and report tracking of activities to allow for a managed, efficient service.”
In the case of technology projects, once more he notes a clearly defined scope is crucial, against which key deliverables must be measured. Maintenance and lifespan considerations are key components here.
“Most projects are not scoped with sufficient detail and go wrong along the way,” Downie states. “Consultants, managers and board members who are not specialists often create the scope based on their own, with dire consequences. A company with the right track record, ethics and historical project experience should be appointed and help drive a specific scope.
“Additionally, or alternatively, an experienced specialist consultant should be appointed to create a definitive scope and accept liability for the project if it does not go to plan.”
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