Security departments work well beyond the scope of emergency response and law enforcement; in fact, a large portion of their efforts go toward preventing incidents. Too often, prevention is overlooked in the day-to-day operations of an organization until after an incident has occurred.
When the efficiency and ROI of security departments are scrutinized, lack of visibility into preventative measures may lead to budget cuts. Prevention efforts may take place behind the scenes, but they're necessary for creating safe environments for people to live, work, and study—so they must be accounted for in the security department's budget.
Measuring your security team's efficiency and security ROI and publicizing prevention efforts not only makes your impact visible but also helps maximize your department's budget.
Increasing visibility in the community provides evidence of your security team's efforts beyond responding to isolated incidents. While it may seem that certain security departments—for example, those on college campuses—have more exposure for promoting the ways they help their organization and its associated community, there are also ample opportunities for corporate security teams to gain visibility.
In corporate organizations, security departments are often contracted out to third-party security providers. Whether your security team is outsourced or not, it is important for your department to ingrain themselves into the culture of the organization. Monthly email updates, coffee discussions, or other events can be an effective way to develop and maintain relationships with members of any workplace community.
Outreach efforts are a simple but effective way for security departments to raise awareness of their activities. Community newsletters or monthly company memos are a simple way to highlight new, notable, or ongoing security department initiatives. Likewise, distributing reminders about visitor policies or upcoming events that require increased security helps promote prevention efforts while setting expectations for employees, students, and community members.
Open community forums are another opportunity to provide both clarity and visibility. Forums are an easy and effective way to educate employees, students, and community members about the security department's role and existing security policies while dispelling negative stereotypes or perceptions. For example, on a college campus, students often perceive the security department as a formidable opponent standing in the way of fun rather than a valuable resource. Publicizing security department successes or posting security requirements for upcoming events on social media is key to increasing visibility, providing clarity, and improving perceptions of your security team within any organization—campus or corporate.
Conducting community outreach to improve visibility is also important when lobbying for budget increases. Regardless of your security environment, decision makers are often part of the greater community; thus, their opinions of your department's contributions are also likely to be influenced by outreach efforts.
Use Data to Tell the Story
Most security departments lack a defined source of income; for campus security, parking enforcement in the form of parking tickets or permits is the largest source of profit. However, the majority of corporate security directors are challenged to monetize their department's contributions. Fortunately, there are tools available to help illustrate the results of your loss prevention efforts. Data analytics can help you quantify and demonstrate the ways your security department is working for the company. To communicate your department's security efforts and budget needs effectively, collect and compile data for all services provided into a report that clearly outlines budget allocations by year, quarter, or month. Include the hours worked by your department and the type of tasks completed—including medical responses, escorts, and anything outside of normal duties.
In addition to collecting internal data, administering community surveys to measure perception of your department's efficiency can help you better assess the resources you have—and the resources you need. Surveying the employees in your organization or the students at your institution can provide a clear picture of how your security department is perceived. Likewise, you can also learn about security gaps that employees or students have encountered. For example, if the consensus is that personal safety training is a missing component of your security efforts, your department can leverage that data to gain budget for said training.
Bottom line: Surveys, outreach, and data analysis can help your department gain visibility, provide insight into your community, and ultimately help you not only communicate your department's needs but also justify budget requests. When armed with the budget you need, you can more effectively achieve your goals and better integrate security into the way your organization thinks and operates.