Security systems are typically perceived as grudge purchases. Companies resent the money they have to invest to keep their people and assets safe. But are they seeing the business benefits security systems can provide? Hi-Tech Security Solutions finds out that in many instances, security installations could easily pay for themselves with the added value they could provide.
Jan de Beer, founder of Multi Base Concepts is no stranger to tackling and resolving challenges. One of these being the education of business managers to the benefits they can harvest from their current security installations. He claims that most companies are, in general, either oblivious to the value add they can obtain from their security investment or they do not see it as a priority to exploit their system. Lack of knowledge of the benefits is the biggest stumbling block, he believes.
He says that organisations need to map out their business processes from A to Z. An example he cites is that an estate should provide residents with the secure and worry-free lifestyle they are paying a premium for. They should have peace of mind that their security measures are working for them. Similarly, businesses should feel that their security investment is tackling risk issues competently. And by implementing simple measures, the system can provide them with a valuable return on their investment.
“Going back to the example of an estate, one could use the access control system as a monitoring tool for the hours worked by their garden service. By requiring the garden service to check in and out at the estate, management will be able to identify if and when they arrived and whether the hours worked match the hours charged for,” he continues.
Another example is the use of the system to check the health of perimeter fencing. Instead of waiting for an incident to occur because the fence is not working properly, the system could feed back any issues so that repairs could be made timeously, thus saving time, money and preventing possible criminal breaches.
Extending security functions
Howard Griffiths, managing director of Security Service Consultants, finds that most security systems are used primarily for crime monitoring and prevention. He has identified six functions for a typical security surveillance system:
* Monitoring and preventing criminal activity.
* Identifying labour issues.
* Identifying company issues, such as machinery not working properly.
* Health and safety enhancement. This is the area where companies that are using their surveillance systems for business purposes, provide the most feedback.
* Identification and monitoring of substance abuse.
* Monitoring general housekeeping.
He adds that the reporting structure is critical and must be managed properly to provide benefits. His company’s Meerkat system allows users to log into the secure site and input the event date and time, its location and specific details about the event, such as number of perpetrators, descriptions and so forth. Operators can also list the actions that were taken in response to the incident, place priorities on the event and upload video clips and snapshots for later analysis. This allows the customer to return to the page at a later date and acquire a graphical representation of the event on a pie chart. This applies to all the functions listed above.
In order to gain full benefit from a security system one should institute a trends analysis on all reporting. A heat map will indicate incidents on a floor plan of the business premises, thus clearly pinpointing those areas where incidents occur. This can be extremely useful in terms of, for example, showing those areas of a building where the most breakages occur. By being able to hone in on these areas, the problem can be resolved and the benefits to the company’s bottom line become immediately apparent.
Changing management mindsets about alternative uses for security systems can be extremely challenging. Griffiths says that one needs to start by indicating the fact that it is cheaper to effectively manage a security system than not to manage it. If cost is still their big argument for keeping the status quo, then one can suggest that they move their monitoring to an offsite company who can then analyse risk areas, identify business processes and benefits and provide complete reports on areas where money is being saved, OHS is being improved and system processes and production are being optimised.
De Beer feels that by showing clients the benefits of integrating all systems on to a common platform, it will be easier to then demonstrate the possible added value to be gained by extending the uses of a standard security system. Knitting together visitor management, access control, time & attendance and process control, together with surveillance, fire detection and suppression and a host of other elements that would typically fall under the auspices of a building management system, one can extend the return on investment generally not perceived when using a security system for that sole purpose.
One obstacle that he vehemently insists needs to be removed, is the business practice of forcing the security manager to report directly into the financial director. Since security is already viewed as a cost centre, this will simply exacerbate the issue. Ideally, security should report directly into the managing director.
A starting point is the appointment of a reputable outside consultant who is well versed in garnering optimal information about an organisation’s business processes and being able to identify and indicate those areas where companies can use their security installations to drive other business functions.
One area where he believes all organisations will see the tangible benefits of piggybacking on their security system is the evolution to green buildings and environmental awareness. This is already becoming a prevalent reality with the advent and refinement of building management systems that are geared towards maximised energy efficiency. By tapping into the security system, access control can readily switch lights on and off when employees enter and leave specific areas and CCTV systems can provide further feedback on the presence of employees within certain areas to ensure climate control is optimal.
There is no doubt that with the right advice and guidance, organisations can turn a cost centre into a profit centre by leveraging their current security installation.
Jan de Beer, founder of Multi Base Concepts: +27 (0)60 526 1087, firstname.lastname@example.org
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