Emerging Issues in Security

Internal Personnel vs. Outsourcing the Management of Physical Security

Many factors are in play for corporations faced with the decision to have an internal security department or outsource the management, administration, and operation of physical and electronic security systems and programs.

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Determining whether to bring your physical security services internal or to outsource is a critical decision. Traditionally, larger companies more often have in-house security departments, and smaller companies with fewer resources often outsource security.

When contemplating internal personnel vs. outsourcing security services and responsibilities, take the following factors into consideration.

Cost Savings

Both up-front and annual recurring costs must be estimated for managing security functions, equipment, and the staff required. Many businesses looking to restructure by reducing staff in an effort to save money consider outsourcing a lower-cost labor pool. Often, outsource companies run much leaner overhead structures and pass on additional savings from bulk purchasing and leasing arrangements for all hardware and software. They are certified or licensed and must meet deadlines because of contractual pressures.

The Best Protection of Employees, Assets, and Processes

A risk assessment measures the vulnerability to various forms of criminal activity and the benefit of internal or outsourcing of the physical and electronic security programs to best address the risks. It starts with assessing the facility first to plan appropriately for where security services are needed and to determine whether or not in-house or subcontracted services should be deployed and how to maintain and increase the level of competency of security operations.

Operational Efficiency and Effectiveness

A full set of administrative tasks is required to ensure proper functionality of systems and procedures. The goal is for unified and consistent security across the enterprise.

Critics of outsourcing argue that no outsider can match the responsiveness and service levels offered by an in-house team. In addition, concerns exist about confidentiality of data and procedures or getting locked into proprietary software and hardware. Subcontractors make the case that success is dependent on continual improvement in security. They keep up with the latest technology and products being deployed.

System Maintenance, Management, and Service

People must oversee security operations. The availability of qualified talent is a big factor in the decision whether to outsource this function or to utilize an internal staff. The job requires technical security experts who can do the installation, management, and programming required any time changes or additions are made to the various systems, run and analyze history and event reports, identify alarm events, detect suspicious activity, and more.

System troubleshooting, maintenance, testing, and other operational functions also require a high level of training and technical expertise. Regular turnover in internal staff could lead to untrained personnel or high costs associated with constant training.

24/7 Alarm Monitoring and Response

Will the system be monitored during normal business hours, or is it necessary to have round-the-clock supervision? An outsourced security monitoring company offers 24-hour response services. In-house security would require skilled administrators on the operation of the systems and other related functions.

There is no one-size-fits-all answer for the financial and operational justifications of the decision of in-house staff vs. outsourcing. In-house staff is a negative when it comes to liability exposures and cost increases in worker benefits, insurance, compensation, and training. On the pro side, in-house staff is probably more loyal, and being able to directly communicate with personnel is a big advantage. With a subcontractor, you have less control of quality and service. Because a third party is involved, there may potentially be a delay in communicating with the outsourced company.