Business Development | Vulnerability

Boost Your Risk Assessments in 2019: Upgrade Your Questionnaire

January 25, 2019 | 4 min read
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For physical security consultants looking to boost their customer service and risk assessment reports, the questionnaire is a great opportunity for improvement. Question templates are important, because having a top-notch template will increase the objectivity of an assessment, and the overall effectiveness of the risk assessment process.

Circadian Risk can help you up your game by taking your security surveys to the next level. You’ll be more confident with your questions, your process and the final recommendations.

Go deeper: Top Ways to Get More Out of Your Risk Assessment Interviews

The Art and Science of Security Questionnaires

You’ve heard the old adage, “Garbage in, garbage out.” If your security survey is just so-so, your entire physical security assessment will only be so-so. The question template sets the foundation for your analysis. The quality of your questionnaire has a direct and significant impact on the final results of your security assessment.

If you aren’t asking the best questions, you won’t deliver the best findings and recommendations. Circadian Risk is founded on the commitment to help security consultants and our enterprise clients deliver better results and strengthen their businesses, and that includes our approach to question templates.

There’s an art and a science to creating question templates. In my experience, most security consultants lean heavily on the art to the neglect of the science. As a result, I’ve seen a lot of bad security surveys in my career. They’re unorganized, hard to interpret and difficult to use. There’s a clear misunderstanding of how variables work together. Important questions are missing, while irrelevant questions bog down the survey.

Those are all key elements to get right when you’re writing your question template, and it takes careful thought and planning.

Standardizing the Security Questionnaire

In the security industry, there isn’t a static standard that applies across the board. Different sectors have different standards, such as OSHA, ISC, or Joint Commission. At Circadian Risk, we get asked from time to time if we have a question template that our users can apply to their own industry, or if we can help them develop a custom template for their company.

Circadian Risk provides an objective general security question template, which you automatically get when you use our software. We’re also currently developing question templates for all of the major industry standards. If you’re a Circadian Risk customer, you can expect to have access to those templates before long. We’ll keep you posted.

We can also create security question templates for your specific organization with a quick turnaround.

Won’t a Standard Questionnaire Hurt My Consulting Business?

Some security consultants balk at the idea of a standardized questionnaire. They tell me, “My questionnaire is what sets me apart. Using a standardized template would be bad for my business.”

You can build your physical security consulting business on your own proprietary question template, if that’s what you prefer. But keep in mind that your customers aren’t interested in your questionnaire—they want better remediations. If your bread and butter is based on the questionnaire, as opposed to the results that you deliver, you might want to reevaluate whether you’re truly serving your clients’ best interests.

Related reading: Will Data-Driven Surveys Replace Security Consultants’ Expertise?

In the end, what matters is the analytics. If you have a standard question template that others are also using, you’ll still be providing better analytics. What will make you stand out from the competition won’t be your custom templates, but your customer service, your relationship with your client, and the quality of your corrective action plan.

How Is Circadian Risk Better?

What makes Circadian Risk templates better than the typical questionnaire? It comes down to objectivity versus subjectivity. I see a lot of questions from consultants that use highly subjective measurements. For example:

  • Is lighting adequate?
  • Is the security coverage acceptable?
  • Are the proper cameras in use?

Two consultants assessing the same building could have very different answers to each of those questions. Worse yet, the same consultant could give different answers on different days. The questions leave too much room for subjective evaluation.

Circadian Risk’s templates also help keep you on track to avoid missing important insights. Many consultants struggle to organize their security surveys in a logical and methodical way. Others tend to shoot from the hip entirely. For example, they may take a free-flow approach and let the shape of the interview determine the which questions are asked. If the interviewee mentions a problem with internal theft, the consultant forgoes some of the standard questions to dig into the theft issue.

While there is nothing wrong with pulling out more relevant information, this method is practically guaranteed to create huge gaps in the information gathering phase. Security issues that the interviewee doesn’t mention on their own may never be uncovered.

A Circadian Risk template gives you confidence that you’ll never forget important questions or miss key insights.

Take Your Security Consulting to the Next Level in 2019

Want a question template that delivers better analysis? We’re already creating templates for industry standards. These questionnaires will be available for every Circadian Risk customer as they are released. If you need a custom template for your specific company, we can provide on-demand training on the thought process of question development, and we can work with our customers to build the questionnaire you need.

See the our security questionnaire for yourself—schedule a personalized demo today!

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