I’m Peter Webster, chief executive of Corps Security, and this is where I examine the issues affecting the security industry. My thoughts and opinions are intended to generate debate and whether you agree or disagree with them, you’re welcome to post your comments below.
For many years I have been an avid campaigner against the use of integrated service bundling or, as it is also known, total facilities management. I firmly believe that security is quite unlike any other service that a facilities manager has to procure and that only a specialist can provide the best possible solution to keep people, property and assets safe.
It’s clear that I’m not alone in this view and I was delighted to read the comments made by Geoff Zeidler, chairman of the British Security Industry Association (BSIA), in the latest issue of City Security Magazine. Geoff clearly shares many of my own concerns about the proliferation of low cost and low expertise security services being provided as part of an integrated FM bundle.
In his article Geoff says, “As part of a bundle of services, the customer inevitably makes a compromised selection of security provider which can, by definition, never be better than an independent choice.” As far as I’m concerned, he hits the nail on the head by unequivocally stating that customers using bundled services are reducing the likelihood of receiving a security solution that meets their specific needs. What’s more, should an event occur, they really need to consider whether their bundled service provider would be able to deal with the situation.
Another point where I am in total agreement with Geoff concerns the key procurement driver behind bundled services – the desire to cut costs. In my view, while it may look good on paper and please the finance director, it will more than likely result in a service that falls well below the minimum standards that should be expected. Ultimately, those who favour the ‘one stop shop’ approach must ask themselves whether security and other disciplines within the FM sector have interchangeable management skill sets. Those who answer to the affirmative should seriously take some time to better understand the role of security within their organisations.
I am not for one moment denigrating the other FM disciplines and, having worked in the catering and cleaning industries, I have the greatest respect for what they do. The principle of specialism is equally relevant across the board and a specialist cleaning company will provide a higher level of service than a company that offers general services using multi-discipline management. However, while a poor standard of cleaning could cause problems, the danger of having inadequately trained and inexperienced security management could be catastrophic.
The term bundling itself is also open to misinterpretation, particularly as it is common to both integrated service bundling and security bundling. In order to quash any possible confusion from my end, I would like state quite clearly that while I dislike the former, I wholly support the latter.
Using bundled security services makes complete sense for many reasons and it is surely logical to use one specialist organisation to manage all related security services such as CCTV monitoring, intruder and fire alarm receiving, access control and of course, manned guarding. As Geoff Zeidler states, “it is a model that is seen widely in Europe”, yet the UK seems to be lagging behind. This is surprising given the way it can streamline an entire security infrastructure, make it more operationally efficient and therefore more cost effective.
I think our Corps Security’s example highlights the advantages of security bundling and we have seen on many occasions the benefits that it brings to our customers. Our entire service model is based upon configuring and implementing the most effective security strategy for our customers, using a combination of human manned guarding, technology and remote monitoring. We do this by assessing all of the risks and threats to an organisation and recommending the best security solution without preferring any one type of service and this is often more cost effective that the existing arrangements.
It’s all about using the best people for the job. For instance, we don’t carry out the installation and maintenance of electronic security technology. However, we are able to specify the right equipment and technology for each situation avoiding the common problem of either the wrong low-cost equipment or over-specified technology being installed, both of which will cost more in the long term. We can also recommend specialists and trusted service partners, who will get it right first time, and won’t oversell, undersell or supply substandard equipment. Combining the right technology with our manned guarding and remote monitoring functions ensures that we can be flexible and responsive by, for example, swapping manned hours for monitored hours when necessary.
Our commitment to working with best-in-class companies has led us to develop strategic partnerships with a number of leading specialists, who can provide diverse services such as sniffer dogs, technical surveillance countermeasures (TSCM), close protection and hostile environment accompaniment. It means that each customer gets a completely holistic solution – one that instils confidence.
The advantages of security bundling are considerable and I sincerely hope that it becomes more widely accepted in the UK. However, this will often depend on a customer’s corporate policy and that’s not always so easy to change, especially when other security related issues continue to dominate. As Geoff says in his article, “If I was to say ‘cyber security’ in any boardroom today, everyone would engage as it represents a known unknown threat.”
And that will be the subject of my next blog.