Auditing Your Current Protective Service Staff and Program

There is no specific EP or security program that works for every client. Each program must be customized and regularly reviewed based on unique specifications and changing priorities. If a company uses a one size fits all policy, there is a risk of adopting a generic or outdated strategy based on inaccurate assumptions. The results of this can often lead to more frustrations than positive outcomes.

When auditing your current protective service staff and program, it's important to remember that SOPs and KPls can be used to prescribe as well as evaluate performance. Prescriptively, they stipulate what needs to be accomplished. For evaluation purposes, the same SOPs and KPls can be used to assess the overall health of the protective program, understand how individual team members are performing, check whether internal processes are effective, and where they are not effective, it can help fix them.

Quality control and auditing aim to identify where people and procedures require improvement. It's not so much a question of "finding the bad apple" as it is a preventative measure to expose gaps in internal processes including recruitment, training, procedures, suitability of equipment, use of equipment, integrity, etc. Quality control and auditing are not effective stand-alone strategies, and must be followed up with corrective action to ensure that solutions are implemented, and ineffective personnel are reprimanded and/or educated on their flaws. This will help to ensure that the program is in a continually improving state of readiness.

When building an effective security program or adjusting a current program, adopting a continuous improvement mindset is essential. This will enable the evolution of the security plan to reflect material changes in the threat landscape.

In most cases, if a company's current EP program is not performing as expected, this does not necessarily mean that its underlying objective - the principle's safety, productivity, and happiness - is no longer a priority. As circumstances change through factors including business growth, increased public visibility, increased wealth, or changes in the principle, etc., the original purpose of the protective program may become obsolete or need to be adjusted accordingly.

How to determine what areas need improvement:

A poorly functioning EP program will probably not have a clear way to evaluate success or failure, and unlike other managers, those responsible for EP may have difficulty in rallying the troops around an obvious gap analysis. That means that they will need to use something else.

A SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis of the program with a focus on problem assessment is a great starting point. Given the personal nature of many EP activities, it may often be more effective to bring in third-party experts to conduct these analyses than to expect that those responsible for creating the situation will also have the wherewithal to rectify it. Analyzing past and previous risk factors can help determine current risks and then attempt to identify possible future risks in order to be proactive in mitigating these risks.

Furthermore, it’s important to analyze the risks facing the principals, then try to understand the family's or company’s preferences concerning security. To gain a clear understanding of all angles, it is also beneficial to interview other stakeholders within the ecosystem including staff and managers.

This will help gain consensus on pain points, expectations, and the contours of success to ensure complete transparency in how to address the issues and arrive at sustainable solutions.

The staff may be competent and well-liked, and the root cause of the dissatisfaction may simply be poor program design and management, not the people doing their shifts. It all depends on what the analysis uncovers.

Integrating the right success factors:

A security and EP system is only as strong as its weakest link. Thus, it is vitally important to hire trustworthy people with the right credentials.

Actual qualifications and competencies will depend on what kind of program and staff you require. When vetting a security provider, you should obtain full transparency into how staff vetting takes place and understand the importance of relevant training.

It is tempting to be impressed by security agents who boast advanced proficiency in everything from martial arts to underwater knife-fighting. But the most important training for security team members concerns preventative, day-to-day activities and procedures for risks that are probable and critical. A properly trained security professional will add value by becoming an integral part of the team who blends into their surroundings, assists with routine tasks as needed, and will offer unmatched security services without hindering the abilities of team members to conduct their daily tasks and routines as usual.

If there are procedures for responding to a fire, for example, do agents have the training to use the extinguishers on property, when to use them, and when to leave things to the local fire department?

The idea of continually improving the team's training level, and everyone being trained in everything, is good, but this only makes sense after everyone intimately understands the procedures they need to know to prevent and react to possible emergencies.

The protocols, processes, and established procedures bind together skilled people and effective physical deterrents to provide consistently effective security.

Executing a continuous improvement plan:

In order to be successful, those responsible for the turnaround or revamp of a security program must paint a clear picture of how the new EP program will look once the root causes of underperformance have been identified and corrected. It is important to provide people with a realistic image of the light at the end of the tunnel. This will allow them to embrace a shared vision, and to look forward towards success rather than backward at failures or flaws.

Once your analysis is complete, be sure that all key stakeholders are on the same page as to what the core problems are and how the turnaround plan will correct these. Key stakeholders will typically include the principle, the CSO, and perhaps the EP manager if there is one.

Ongoing quality assurance, staff development, and transparent performance reviews lead to a higher degree of certainty in program viability than laissez fair program execution tactics.

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