Everything You Need to Know About Hiring Security Consultants
Can you believe that it’s over 25 years since the movie The Bodyguard was released? Kevin Costner was not the first choice for the part. Steve McQueen and Ryan O’Neal were considered first. Clearly, even in fictional scenarios, choosing security consultants is not easy.
Security consultants can play a major contribution to your building’s safety and security. But how do you make sure you hire the right one?
Read on to learn everything you need to know about hiring security consultants.
What Is a Security Consultant?
Security consultants companies offering services in the security industry such as:
- Commercial security guard services
- Residential security guard services
- Virtual security concierge service
- Armed guard security services
- And more
Sometimes a security consultant works independently offering only advice. Sometimes they operate as a company who also offers security services.
A consultant may specialize in specific client industries such as residential, commercial, healthcare, or events.
A consultant works in the interest of their client to meet a brief from the client. They should also operate within a set of professional standards.
What Security Consultants Do
As no one security consultant can be an expert in all aspects of security, it is difficult to give a single answer to this question. As with so many things, it depends. Here are few aspects of security that a consultant may specialize in:
- Access control
- Video surveillance
- Security procedure
- Physical security such as doors and gates
- Building design
- Crime prevention environmental design
- Hidden surveillance countermeasures
This short list is illustrative. There are many more aspects of security. Some security consultants offer generalized security advice and may be a good place to start.
Deciding Between a Security Generalist or Expert
Some security consultants have a general knowledge of a wide range of security issues. Some have knowledge and skills in depth on a few things. Your circumstances will decide what you need.
For an overview of your commercial or residential property security issues, a generalist may be the best start. You need the big picture.
You need to know what the risks and opportunities are. Your security consultant should then have the knowledge to point you in the direction of an expert should you need one.
For example, you may have some high net worth individuals or potential targets for covert surveillance to protect. You need an expert. Specialized technology needs more in-depth expertise than your average generalist can have.
How to Vet Your Security Consultant’s Knowledge
Security consultants start their career in security in any number of places. Some are police officers, IT specialists, security equipment installers or guards. It is often useful to know something about your consultant’s career, education, and training.
Look for qualification and experience covering your industry requirements. Analyzing threats to food production is very different from residential property risk assessment. Look for a track record of relevant experience.
One thing to look out for is that the security consultant company doesn’t “recycle” security guards. Rehiring security guards someone else fired is a good way to create a security team with bad habits.
There are professional accreditations such as Certified Security Consultant (CSC), Physical Security Professional (PSP) and Certified Protection Professional (CPP).
Seek references from other clients. Speak to them about the service they received. Ask about whether they felt the advice was credible or just a door-opener to sell further services.
Deciding if You’re Ready for Security Services
You may be convinced that your organization needs a security consultant and that the benefits are obvious. This does not mean that the rest of the organization is ready to make the changes that may be recommended. The investment in analyzing your risks and receiving recommendations for change is wasted if you do nothing with it.
Selling the need (and budget) for security services to your board or CEO can also be challenging.
A good security consultant can help you with this. They can discuss the objectives and scope of the security project with relevant stakeholders. Credibility for the project upfront can save a lot of frustration and misunderstanding later.
Know Who Will Be Representing Your Business
Some security companies firms separate the roles of sales from consultancy. You may see one person who gives you a sales pitch and someone different when you’ve committed to the work. A senior consultant meets you during the sales phase of the relationship and a junior turns up when the business is won.
It’s okay to have a sales team and a separate team of security experts, but make sure you know what you are getting. If you want the security consultant to present proposals to your senior people, have them present to you. Are they credible?
What to Expect When You Hire or Transition to a New Security Company
Some consultants use a standard approach with little regard to your specific needs. This checklist approach may suit your situation or it may not. Check out what approach your security consultant will take.
Make sure that the approach is right for you. Be clear about what you want. Discuss how your security risk assessment and proposals will meet your needs.
Usually, a security assessment will end with a report but discuss what form this will take. Do you need different things for different stakeholders? If you need a one-page summary or a presentation for senior executives, ask for it.
If you’re switching security companies, know what to expect. Being prepared can help you make sure the transition is smooth.
Decide What Security Add-Ons You Need
What else can your security consultant do for you? Can they do implementation or project management? Can they train security equipment users, tenants or employees?
There may be security policy or procedure changes. Your consultant may be able to help with the design of these and their implementation. What capability do they have?
You may need documentation, training delivery, and follow up to ensure that the changes you put in place stick.
Homework & Preparation is Key to Hiring a Quality Security Consultant
As with many things, preparation is key. Before you meet security consultants, do some work on what you think you need. Discuss this with your stakeholders.
Prepare for meetings with a set of questions about them and how they can meet your needs. Compare the responses from a short list of potential consultants. Take up references.
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