As we move into 2023, decision-makers are starting to look seriously at technology as an alternative to manguarding — and technology has finally developed to a point where it can take on many security jobs.
This move toward automation has been brewing for some time. When the pandemic started in 2020, the crisis highlighted some of the perennial issues businesses have always had with security officers: high turnover, staffing issues, and quality problems.
In 2021 security officer pay rates were raised as a way to combat all three problems, but the pay raise wasn’t the magic bullet guard companies said it would be. As evidenced by complaints by security professionals at ISC West in early 2022, there were still major problems with officer turnover, staffing and quality.
Decision makers are starting to look at improving technology as a solution to problems with guard forces, and smaller, more nimble guard companies are starting to get aggressive about investing in technology that they can then provide to clients. This means larger companies will have to become more agile to compete.
Is technology right for your security program? In 2023, it will be important to evaluate your security provider using key performance indicators (KPIs) around performance. If they’re not meeting your needs, it may be time to look at augmenting your security force with technological solutions.
10 Security KPIs to track in the new year
Management Support: Do you have defined terms regarding management support for your security operation? For example, if you contract with a security force and they say they will inspect your officers, how will you ensure the inspection was done? How will you receive the findings of the inspection, and understand what remediations need to be done? Is there a penalty if the inspection is not done? If your security force is in-house, how do you ensure every shift is receiving the same management support and oversight?
Response Time: In the case of an incident, how quickly can your contractor get extra support on site? This can be a tricky situation, and should be tracked. With all the recent security mergers and acquisitions, your service representative is likely handling 8 to 10 times the service load they did in the past, but you still need the same response time from their management.
Staffing and Overtime: How much time does your security staff spend at work? Because job performance degrades after 12 hours, it’s important to have an acceptable level of overtime. Any more than four hours is likely to result in poor work. You should also be staffed adequately, so that staff isn’t putting in too much overtime. This is important to track even if your contractor is the one paying the overtime. You want to be sure your security officers are well-rested and performing well, not exhausted and working double shifts or more.
Dark Hours: Dark hours are any hours that should be covered, but are not staffed. No one wants this, and it’s especially egregious if you’re contracting with a company that isn’t staffing contracted hours. Unfortunately, dark hours have been on the rise over the last couple of years as contractors have scrambled to fill jobs. It’s important to track these hours. It’s especially important to ensure that, in the event of understaffing, you are deciding which posts will and won’t be staffed — not your contractor.
Turnover: High turnover is a classic problem in the security industry. To control it, it’s a good idea to include a turnover incentive in your security contract. If the contractor beats the incentive, you pay them a bonus. If not, the contractor pays you.
Training Compliance: Are trained and competent officers assigned to your account? It’s important to know that your security officers meet the minimum training requirements throughout their assignment at your site. This means a well-defined scope of work, and it may also mean examining the training personnel receive. In contract situations, make sure the scope of work clearly defines who pays for pre-assignment, refresher, and ongoing training.
Payroll and Invoicing Accuracy: No one wants dark hours, but ghost hours — dark hours for which you are billed — are even worse. This is something that should not happen; you are not supposed to pay for unstaffed posts. To ensure you are only paying for staffed posts, an audit of all hours worked is essential. As mentioned above, you should also audit all training hours for compliance with the scope of work.
Surge Capacity: In the event of an emergency, can you put additional personnel on site within a certain timeframe? Most guard contracts include surge capacity—being able to call in many more officers to a site during a crisis or an event. Test this clause to make sure the guard company can actually do it, and to find out how quickly they can double capacity. This is a test that really only needs to be run once per contract period, but it does need to be done. Better to learn during a test that your contractor can’t meet surge capacity than to find out during an emergency.
Value Increase: What services does your contractor provide that are over and above contractual levels? For example, if you had a third party doing audits when the contract began, did the contractor offer to take over the audits? Any area in which the contractor provides extra value should be tracked for return on investment.
Savings: How does the contractor provide savings? Have they pointed out that you have more security than you need, or leveraged technology as a force multiplier? It’s important to incentivise your providers to provide these efficiencies to you, but to manage this, you must first measure it.
For an evaluation of how you can achieve efficiencies and leverage technology to improve your security program, contact Circadian Risk about guardforce optimization assessments. We can help you set up and track critical KPIs. Request your demo now.