Part 4 in a Series on Procurement in the Security Industry
Introducing new security teams to your business can be daunting. It disrupts your established workflows, it involves spatial changes in the form of electronic security, and it requires your employees to keep up with major changes.
Best of all, you get the fun job of being accountable for how everything pans out—after all, as a procurement manager or similar decision-maker, you command responsibility for the outcomes of your hire.
To help you incorporate your newly-hired security providers into your business (or to prepare you for security guard hiring to begin with), we’ve prepared a few pointers. These are the top guidelines for integrating security solutions, prepared by our experts here at Unified Security.
Put a Clear Schedule Together
The first thing you want to do is to work with your security provider to come up with a clear schedule for integration. Security integration will cause some interruptions, and there’s no avoiding this—the best integration demands some time to adjust. Creating a schedule, however, allows you to control what changes, when things change, and how long changes might take.
You’ll want your schedule to be as specific as possible—plan down to the day, and note down the exact times they’ll be taking steps such as installing electronic security devices or acquainting new security guards with your facilities.
It can also help to create phases for your integration: start with your lower floors before proceeding upward, for example, and schedule orientation sessions for your organisation’s employees, one department at a time.
At this stage, you’ll want to involve other stakeholders within your organisation, and level off each manager of your organisation’s different component parts in order to avoid confusion.
Since critical tasks are often delayed because of a lack of coordination between procurement and management, you would do well to make sure that representatives from each part of your organisation are present for planning.
Find Out What Your Security Providers Need
A working relationship goes both ways—now that you’ve provided them with everything that you need done for your business, security providers will now need your help to execute that plan.
It’s crucial to ask your provider what they need in order to execute their tasks quickly and without unnecessary problems. Take the time to ask them what makes for easy integration on their end, and take note of their needs and requests.
You’ll want to cascade these items to your staff so they know what to do, and can anticipate important requests and disruptions that come with integration.
Aligning in this way may seem like added work, and you may believe that it’s your service provider’s job to ensure a smooth transition from unguarded to guarded. The extra effort pays off many times over when, after a brief and painless integration period, you can count your business as secure.
Map Out Existing Workflows
In order to minimise disruption, it’s important to have a clear understanding of your current workflow: how do things work, pre-security?
With a workflow or process map, it’s easier to fit incoming solutions on your end, and it gives your security team a heads up as to which processes must stay as they are and which can be adjusted.
Along the way, you identify potential work bottlenecks that can be avoided, and set priorities for which aspects of integrations should be tackled first.
More importantly, having a record of how things used to be will help you address unwanted changes to your workflow. You may discover that certain changes slow your business down or add unwieldy strain—defining your status quo helps you create a sort of back-up in case changes need reversing..
We recommend having a workflow mapping session with members from the different parts of your organisation, in order to achieve a more accurate view of your current setup.
Orient Your Staff
Once you have all your plans in order, it’s important to make sure that all members of your organisation are informed of the incoming changes.
Provide them with information that will help them understand the integration process: things like your schedule, planned workflow adjustments, and ad hoc assignments. This makes integration much easier on your staff, and gives new personnel the valuable impression that their role in your organisation matters.
It’s also a good, last-minute chance to troubleshoot problems, iron out plans, and avoid complications.
Once your staff are leveled off, encourage them to be open to communicating about the progress of the integration. This encourages feedback that will prove useful in perfecting your integration down the line, and in managing similar integrations in the future.
Conduct Frequent Assessments
If you did the smart thing and organised your integration period into phases, then you can conduct assessments after each key step in the sequence.
Having checkpoints means knowing:
- Whether your integration process is on-schedule,
- Whether each new solution looks sustainable in practice,
- Whether your staff and security company have reached a clear, mutual understanding
- Whether your stakeholders are happy with the necessary changes to business as usual.
Waiting until the last minute to evaluate how well your provider integrates can lead to a more complicated process, so as a rule of thumb, you should assess how smoothly each solution blends with your current workflows after each major milestone.
Keep an Eye out for Complications
No matter how well you plan, unexpected outcomes may still arise. For instance, it’s possible to incur additional expenses for equipment or face longer hours than expected. These are largely understandable—after all, nobody’s perfect.
These complications should be watched closely, and it’s fair to ask for reports when things fail to match expectations. Likewise, note the difference between complications that are reasonable (e.g. sudden accidents, overlooked details) and those that are unreasonable (e.g. unexplained or unjustifiable delays).
Your judgment is key in identifying which complications are worth spending for, and which complications should be shouldered by your provider due to their inefficiency. At the end of the day, you have to look at these instances relative to the big picture and what is best for your business.
Integration is a complex task, and involves many stakeholders. As such, no matter how quickly you want to get this process over with, we urge that you be patient. Keeping frantic deadlines, badgering suppliers, and setting unattainable expectations can only serve to lengthen the process.
Mind the feedback you receive from your employees and, when possible, act as a stabilising force when presented with frustration and impatience on the part of your colleagues. It’s vital that they understand the necessity of integrating with a security provider, and that they grow to appreciate their presence.
The same thing goes for your providers: extending patience with them means forging a healthier working relationship and higher levels of dedication from the newer faces around your premises.
Integration is a matter of professional ethic and problem-solving. There are three secrets to a quick and painless integration:
1) managed expectations,
2) clear planning, and
3) a level approach to resolving complications.
The best Australian security companies know the importance of quick integration, and you can count on them to do their part. Going the extra mile and preparing your end of things can only bring positive results.