Part 3 in a Series on Procurement in the Security Industry
Procurement managers have a big responsibility to make sure that the vendors they choose are worth the (often significant) investment. The right choice will help you control your risks.
To help you make the best decision, we’ve put together a list of the questions you should ask yourself when investing in a security team or security guard services. It is not a comprehensive list - because every business has its own needs—but it should help you make a more informed decision and avoid unwanted surprises.
Questions to Ask Yourself
1. How is my organisation managing security today?
The most important question to ask yourself when you’ve decided to hire security services is, “Why?”
Assess your current risk controls to find which of your policies work, which don’t, and which are missing. You may have an existing idea of verticals that need covering, but a rigorous examination of your existing security can help you spot more vulnerabilities.
It’s equally important to spot the good alongside the bad—hiring a new security team should amplify factors of your operation that are working well, not paint over them.
2. How should I break a tie between security companies?
Procurement isn’t simple business, and one of the most frustrating moments comes when you’re faced with two equally viable candidates with respective selling points, and no way to decide between them.
To avoid this unfortunate fate (and to make better decisions in general), we recommend setting your priorities way in advance. This tip will help you get past frustrating ties, and it will help you see which among your candidates are worth your money.
3. How long can we wait before full integration?
Faster service integration means faster service—and when it comes to security services, you do not want to spend more time than you have to without the protection of a qualified team.
Identify a threshold for how long you and your organisation are willing to wait for the integration process to complete. After vetting your candidates, you’ll have a clear picture of which among them can deliver service at the speed you deserve.
4. Have we ever had problems with security teams?
Finally, if you’re in the market to procure a new security team because the last one didn’t meet your expectations, it pays to remind yourself of why they were let go.
You want to try your hardest to avoid letting mistakes to be repeated. Do so by figuring out what aspects of your previous engagement with a security company went wrong, and what early-warning signs you might have missed that could have tipped you off.
Questions to Ask Security Teams
5. How long have you been doing your job?
We mean two things by this first question directed at your potential security team: a) how long the team has been in business, and b) how long the professional you’re talking to has been in business.
Older firms have had more chances to try, and learn, and fail—so it’s a good first step towards assessing their experience. On the other hand, we recommend going for security companies that hire experienced people to work for them.
6. How many organisations like ours have you serviced?
Ideally, the security company you wind up opting for will have a wealth of experience. Finding this out can be a challenge, and the quickest way to get a measure of their history with businesses like yours is to simply ask for it.
Ask about companies that resemble yours in size and pace of business, companies they’ve served in your neighbourhood, and companies they’ve served within your industry.
7. What makes for an “easy” client to service?
A good working relationship cuts both ways: you want your procurement efforts to bear fruit with a vendor that runs a tight ship, and your vendor, in turn, wants minimal friction when it comes to administering the services they’re being paid for. Their success is your success, and vice versa.
Asking what your candidates consider to be an “easy” client to serve helps you in a few ways:
- You set a good first impression as a client,
- You learn what steps need to be taken for faster integration, and
- You learn what needs doing (or not-doing) to give your security teams an easier time on the job.
8. How’s our security?
It’s important to align with a vendor’s understanding of what constitutes a job well done before setting anything in stone. You want to make sure that they aren’t set on implementing changes you don’t need, and you also want to benefit from an expert pair of eyes when assessing your own needs.
9. How do you manage communication?
This final question doesn’t occur to many people to ask in the moment, but it’s vital to have an idea of your candidate agency’s ethic for communication. The last thing you want to discover too late is that your vendor isn’t reachable when you need them.
The best security companies have help desks, dedicated phone lines, or online support channels readily available to you as needed.
Incorporating the answers to the questions into your vetting processes will go a long way towards helping you make the best decision for your business.
As we’ve mentioned, your business might have other vital questions worth asking when selecting a security team. We recommend taking some extra time to go over your list of needs and uncertainties before settling on a hire.
Smart procurement is founded on a wealth of information: the more you know, the better off you’ll be when the time comes to hire a new security provider.