Every organization must protect its employees, assets, and business operations from internal and external threats. To accomplish this, you must have a robust and dynamic physical security program in place.
In most cases, a security consultant can help you evaluate, strengthen, and optimize your organization’s physical security program. But often, when people think of a ‘security consultant,’ they forget that security consultants specialize in a vast range of areas, including Information Technology, systems integration, asset management, and the list goes on.
In this article, we will focus on physical security consultants to help you find the best fit so that you can optimize both your results and your return on investment.
- What is a security consultant?
- Why hire a physical security consultant?
- What does a physical security consultant do?
- How to choose a physical security consultant
What is a security consultant?
In general, a security consultant is a specialist who provides expert advice to people and organizations, frequently on a temporary or contract basis, until a particular requirement is satisfied. Security consultants offer the expertise that a client lacks or support an organization cannot fulfill.
Security consultants need to prove that they can provide expert advice and deliver solutions. Consequently, most effective consultants have a mixture of excellent technical expertise, good communication skills, and a solid understanding of project management.
In general, there are three broad areas of competence that a security consultant must achieve to be considered qualified:
- Experience: Good security consultants have a solid track record of solving security challenges and implementing cost-effective solutions. Companies usually look for a minimum of 5 years of experience in a particular field of specialization.
- Certifications: Security consultants are not required to hold a license to practice, but many earn voluntary certifications like the Certified Protection Professional (CPP), Physical Security Professional (PSP), Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), and Certified Security Project Manager (CSPM), to list a few.
- Project management: Project management skills help security consultants balance priorities, oversee resources, and track progress efficiently. Naturally, many organizations want a security consultant with project management experience.
Types of Security Consultants
Although it is not necessary for all projects, some industries have unique compliance requirements that call for industry-specific knowledge. For example, if a healthcare organization needed a security consultant, it would benefit them to check if the consultant is well versed with healthcare security standards and regulations.
The list of security specializations is vast, but three core areas that organizations usually need the services of a security consultant include:
- IT or cybersecurity-related issues,
- Specialized areas such as crime prevention and business continuity planning, and
- General physical security covers everything from access control to video surveillance and fire protection.
The bottom line is that while most security consultants have extensive training and expertise, not all of them are qualified to help you address the unique physical security issues you’re facing. While many security consulting services claim to “do it all,” it is helpful to have a general understanding of the three most common security consultants.
Cybersecurity consultants assess computer systems, networks, and software for vulnerabilities, then design and implement the best security solutions for your organization. The primary value of a cybersecurity consultant is to help you reduce your cybersecurity burden so that you can focus on your organization’s objectives.
Cybersecurity consulting is a vast field consisting of all the technologies and practices that keep computer systems and electronic data safe. Cybersecurity consultants have gained tremendous importance as they have transformed how a business operates. A reputed cybersecurity consultant will help your organization:
- Obtain a comprehensive IT systems audit.
- Train staff and improve cybersecurity awareness.
- Establish the proper framework to keep your organization compliant with government policies.
- Identify the most recent hacking methods and suggest strategies to strengthen security.
When it comes to NERC CIP compliance, cybersecurity consultants can also assist energy sector organizations in aligning their cybersecurity measures with the specific regulatory requirements set forth by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC).
Specialized security consultants
Specialist consultants acquire knowledge and skills more quickly than generalist consultants. They remain up to date on recent developments and regulatory news, and they are aware of the vast challenges in their particular industry.
Usually, specialized security consultants offer a specific and often niche service. For example, Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) consultants have extensive experience in property assessments and smart security design. In addition, CPTED consultants offer services for new developments and renovations that include:
- Site Surveys- CPTED consultants can help you review your site plans to assess the implementation of CPTED principles and ensure the design is optimized to reduce criminal activity.
- Security assessments-Customized security assessments that focus on CPTED principles such as natural surveillance, territorial reinforcement, and maintenance and management issues.
Physical security consultants
Physical security consultants help clients identify and implement measures that protect their facility, personnel, and operations from threats. These threats can come from external parties, insider threats, and even accidental damage. The most effective physical security consultants offer their clients solutions incorporating technological and human resources to create a safe workplace environment.
Physical security consultants specialize in identifying threats and vulnerabilities and creating cost-effective countermeasures to reduce risk. Some physical security services include:
- Risk and security assessments
- Physical security program design
- Physical security systems design
- Security training
- Risk management
Why hire a physical security consultant?
Hiring a security consultant can be challenging if you have not conducted an internal security audit or you are unable to provide the consultant with a clear scope of work. Auditing security programs can help you identify gaps in existing physical security systems, policies, and procedures.
While many physical security consultants offer a free consultation to assist you with determining your project’s scope and budget, your internal security audit will already put you in a better position to evaluate their proposal. After conducting an internal security audit, you can use the security audit to determine if the consultant can help you in any of these areas:
- Physical Site Security Surveys
- Video surveillance
- Access control
- Alarm systems
- Premises Liability
- Hiring Contract Security Services
- Fraud and Internal Thefts
- Disaster recovery
- Risk Analysis
- Crime Prevention
If your organization needs guidance in any of these areas, it’s a good idea to seek a physical security consultant who’s a verified expert who can deliver results.
How does a physical security consultant work?
Generally, there are three stages of a physical security consultant’s process: discovery, evaluation, and implementation.
The first step for any physical security consultant is the discovery phase, where the goal is to learn about your business, processes, and current security setup. Physical security consultants are methodical and usually take the time to learn as much as possible about your organization’s operations, culture, and mission. A seasoned physical security consultant will do the following things:
- Tour your facilities.
- Meet with key personnel.
- Review your current security systems.
- Read all crime and safety reports.
During the discovery phase, the physical security consultant will uncover the details of how your current physical security program supports your operations.
Once the security consultant has developed an in-depth understanding of your company, they enter the evaluation phase, with the goal of identifying security challenges and areas that need special attention. During this phase, the security consultant may choose to conduct a Strength, Weakness, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) analysis of your organization.
The SWOT analysis provides you with an insightful snapshot of your organization’s physical security posture. SWOT
- Strengths: What are your organization’s security strengths? Perhaps, you may have a strong security awareness program in place.
- Weaknesses: What are your organization’s security weaknesses? Maybe, you don’t have video surveillance systems in place or lack a proper intercom system.
- Opportunities: Opportunities are generally reasonably distinct. Has the organization set aside funds for security but not yet used them?
- Threats: After proper due diligence, threats are relatively simple to highlight. For example, financial institutions must adhere to specific physical security guidelines, and the cost of noncompliance can be astronomical.
The third phase, also known as the execution stage, begins once you review the Statement of Work (SOW). A Statement of Work is a document describing the entire consulting project. In some cases, a statement of work is included in your consulting proposal.
The SOW contains critical information, and a careful review of the document should answer key questions such as:
- What (deliverables) will I receive in the end?
- Who will be responsible for completing the project?
- What will the price be? What are the terms of payment?
- How will the task be carried out? What are the main tasks?
- How much time will the project need? How many weeks are spent on and off-site?
How to choose a physical security consultant
Finding the best physical security consultant may be the most challenging part for you during this process, but it is an important part that holds the key to the project’s overall success.
Regardless of how much research you conducted, it can be challenging to find a qualified expert that has experience with your industry, business type, and demands; however, the following measures will assist you in your search:
- Make sure you define your needs: Clearly define what you are looking for in a physical security consultant before you search for one. Most consultants specialize in one industry or area, such as design, engineering systems, video surveillance, or risk management. Look for one whose experience and expertise match your company’s. Challenges.
- Research, your physical security consultant: Two words sum up this tip, “Ask Questions.” Additionally, verify their experience, qualifications, and track record.
- Review their website: You should also review the consultant through their website and digital profile. Look for professional images, and well-documented information about their services, and thoroughly review contracts and consultancy fees.
- Check-in with your network: Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask colleagues and fellow security professionals directly or through LinkedIn.
If your prospective physical security consultant’s references are on point the next step is to have a formal meeting to ensure they’re the right person for the job. Clearly outline your expectations, and see if you’re comfortable with their approach and methods. If the consultant checks all your boxes, it may be time to move forward.
Physical security consultants have the ability to assess risk and make recommendations for virtually any security challenge. When selecting a consultant, look for one with vast experience in your particular industry and a proven track record of helping businesses overcome the types of challenges you’re facing.
The process of hiring a security consultant is important and requires some planning, but with the right approach and support, it can also be a rewarding experience. Our security consultants are on standby and available to help you through the process.