Your organization needs to undergo a risk analysis, and you don’t know where to find a consultant who can do the job. Security is not your primary job, and your organization might not even have a security team. So when someone in the organization says that her husband is a part time consultant and retired police officer, it’s a relief. Even better, he’ll do the job for a fraction of what it would cost to hire some of the other consultants you’ve seen online. You’ve found your consultant. Right?
When you’re hiring a consultant to assess your organization's physical security, it’s important to know exactly what you’re getting into. Professional security consultants are trained and often certified. They know exactly what they’re looking for and are familiar with security standards, regulations, and frameworks. They also tend to cost more, but they’re worth the expense.
Like any contractor or professional services, such as an attorney or even a CPA, a cheap consultant is likely to cost you more in the long run.
A brief history of inexpensive security consultants
A few decades ago, most of the consultants in the physical security industry were professional security consultants who were experts in the physical security field. This changed after the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001, when retired military personnel and police officers entered the field as consultants. The number of retirees who became consultants to supplement their income flooded the market and drove the price of security consultants down.
They also created a problem for potential clients: military and police work isn’t the same as professional security work and vice versa. Professional security consultants look for different things when they’re evaluating a site, and they also need a different skill set.
What’s wrong with hiring retired law enforcement or military as security consultants?
Absolutely nothing. Police and military personnel do incredible work, and if a retired officer has gotten board certified by a professional organization, such as ASIS International, you should absolutely consider hiring them.
However, if a retired officer is relying on their police experience alone, that doesn’t necessarily make them a good security consultant. They may know a lot about safety and working with local agencies, but they may not be informed when it comes to insurance, liability, the politics of a business, or security budgeting.
Think about hiring a surgeon. Both a general surgeon and a neurosurgeon know the basics of surgery, but you wouldn’t go to a general surgeon for brain surgery. Nor would you ask a neurosurgeon to remove an appendix. It’s important to hire a consultant who specializes in the right field.
What to look for in a security consultant
Professional consultants are experts when it comes to physical security. To make sure you’re getting the best possible consultant, look for the following:
Experience: Consultants often have several years in the physical security field under their belt. You may also look for someone who has worked in your industry or sector and is familiar with the standards and regulations governing your organization.
Credentials: A consultant is likely to hold an advanced degree in Security Management or a related field. They also may hold a CPP (Certified Protection Professional) or other certification from ASIS International.
Knowledge: A physical security consultant knows that security is more than cameras and access control. Look for an individual who knows the nuances of security, including liability issues, insurance, and strategic concerns.
References: A good consultant should be able to provide references, and you should check them, speaking to past clients. Good consultants also know what information not to give you. If a consultant offers you a sample report from a past client, for example, you know your own information will not be kept confidential.
Make sure that every candidate is interviewed; you’d be surprised at how many organizations hire consultants without putting them through an interview process.
If you find yourself running into difficulties finding a consultant, don’t hesitate to contact ASIS Internaitonal or the CSO Risk Council. Professional organizations are happy to put you in touch with qualified professional consultants. If you don’t know how to hire or what questions to ask a consultant, just ask.
Cheap consultants are costly
There’s nothing more expensive than a cheap consultant. You might save money up front, but if you are fined because you’re not in compliance, or if you have to hire someone to do the analysis again, you’ll end up paying a lot more in the long term.
It’s also dangerous to hire a consultant who doesn’t have the right experience. If an inexperienced consultant misses something, you may think you’re safe when you’re still at risk.
Interested in learning more about hiring the right partner? Contact us to talk to an expert today.