Efficient management - key to client satisfaction

May 2003 Security Services & Risk Management

Efficient management of a company-wide security policy is the key to making security a positive player in the corporate market, and will single-handedly cut out the negative connotations that some corporates may have attached to the industry.

This is the view of Mariaan van Kaam, executive director of VoiceIT South Africa, and an associate of corporate security management company GriffithsReid. "Everyone in the security industry has heard complaints from clients that their security process - be they external guarding, monitoring, or compliance processes are not delivering the expected returns," says Van Kaam. "The most common reason for this complaint is simply that the processes are poorly managed and supervised.

"This is related to the fact that there is no formal process by which sustainability can be measured, or that there is no accountability or responsibility for the continuous fulfillment of the original contract," she says. This is most often the case with contract guarding, but is also equally applicable to almost all other aspects of the security industry.

"Finally, the problem is compounded by a lack of awareness of the importance of security throughout an organisation, particularly amongst non-security personnel, who do not think of security issues as their problem," Van Kaam says.

It is not as if there is no money being spent in the industry - estimates are that of the R14 billion annual spend - and this excludes IT security -- some 54% is spent on the guarding sector alone.

'With spends like that, clients have a right to ask for full performance and maximum returns, yet very often what is needed is a corporate mindset change or shift in approach to the security issue throughout the organisation, rather than just hopping from one supplier to the next," says Van Kaam.

This mindshift entails an understanding that a complete security spend management process is needed, which ensures that services are supervised and managed properly. "Failure to do this can result in a perception that the client gets a raw deal, and that security is some type of grudge purchase," she says.

This is compounded when something goes wrong, as then the company as a whole looks to the security department to explain why things have gone wrong. "Too often, the attitude is that a security department is not part of the 'real' commercial activities of a company, and only an appendage," she says. This remains so until something happens and then they are once again the centre of attention, usually being asked to explain how they allowed a specific event to happen. Then they are blamed, and conveniently forgotten again until the next time.

Understanding security

Companies first need to understand that security is not some side issues, but in fact central to the efficient running of the entire commercial success of the undertaking.

"Security is not just about guarding, but covers the entire HR spectrum as well," Van Kaam continues. "It is no good having an efficient physical monitoring system if the employees who are supposed to man that system are demotivated or apathetic in their approach to the job, or if intra-organisational crime is so widespread that there is no self-compliance.

"Corporations need to understand that it is not only the security department, but the entire organisation which needs to address security related issues. Staff, management, executives must be all be made aware of how they can combat intra-organisational criminality and plug holes in external facing security problems, either through motivation courses or a sustained policy of engendering greater loyalty to the company."

Holistic approach

In addition, security departments need to be run by capable people with proper powers and stature, and a decent budget, she adds. While there are many capable and efficient people heading up security departments, their hands are often tied because of a lack of resources. Part of an efficient management program is the reform of how budgets are allocated to the security department.

"Only by addressing the entire range of issues - HR, company loyalty, budgetary division, efficient departmental management, and organisational mindset change, can a company truly hope to combat the security threats which everyone faces," Van Kaam concludes. "A holistic approach holds the key, not some piecemeal patchwork solution."


Mariaan van Kaam is a specialist in workforce motivation and intra-organisational security. She can be contacted at 011 954 1067.

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