What are the most important characteristics of an excellent Corporate Security Department? What makes an excellent security supplier? The latest report from the Security Research Initiative, which is specifically designed to address these issues, has been published today.
Both corporate security personnel and security suppliers were asked to rate various characteristics of outstanding performance. While they shared similar views overall, it’s also the case that some striking differences are readily apparent.
Findings about what makes suppliers excellent
The most highly valued characteristic is a determined focus on customer needs. Harbouring objectives that are specifically aligned with the client is also seen as crucial.
While it’s most certainly viewed as important to have innovative and adaptive senior management, it’s more important to have excellent management on the front line.
Suppliers appear to attach higher importance than clients to some criteria, for example adopting new philosophies, a focus on training and learning and having excellent and visionary leadership in place. This may suggest suppliers are trying to do too much and would benefit from a greater focus.
The survey suggests suppliers are particularly likely to agree strongly that price trumps quality. Indeed, the difference here is striking given the similarity of answers on other criteria.
The fact that 47% of clients and 59% of suppliers agree strongly that suppliers can only be excellent if clients fully support them suggests that clients may underestimate the crucial role they play.
There was some agreement that security is often not valued highly enough by companies, and that they accord security suppliers less status than other suppliers.
Findings on what makes clients (corporate security) excellent
Understanding threats (91%), having an effective security strategy (87%) and objectives aligned with the company (84%) are the three highest ranked characteristics for client excellence.
While both clients and suppliers believe security fares well in comparison to other business functions in terms of excellence, it’s often less effective at showing how it adds value.
Both suppliers and clients are in accord that security leaders need business skills, but only clients view security expertise as being of equal importance. Suppliers consider this much less important.
Like suppliers, clients appear to favour the carrot rather than the stick approach, suggesting excellent companies are those that focus on rewarding good performance.
There’s some evidence to suggest that clients do not fully recognise the price pressures on suppliers. For example, only one third of those clients questioned attach strong importance to paying the going rate for the job as a condition of excellence.
According to both samples, and judged against all the criteria listed, most clients do not achieve excellence.
Reputations are only temporary
Professor Martin Gill FSyI (director of Perpetuity Research and leader of the Security Research Initiative study) noted: “What is clear is that a reputation for being an outstanding performer is only temporary. There’s evidence from these findings that security undersells itself – suppliers to their clients and Corporate Security Departments to the wider business.”
Gill added: “Security is moving from being seen as a protector of assets to a facilitator of good business, and an essential one at that. However, it’s moving slowly and the sector needs to change from keeping its potential secret. The characteristics of outstanding performance need articulating. The good thing though is that, by all accounts, those working in different aspects of security are largely in agreement about what it involves. Now the strategy must be to achieve it.”
Background to the research
The research is based on an extensive review of the drivers of business excellence. Responses were received from 200 representatives of security suppliers and 289 clients based around the globe. These direct responses were supplemented by 24 in-depth interviews.
The in-depth study was undertaken by Perpetuity Research (which started life as a spin-out company from the University of Leicester) under the umbrella of the Security Research Initiative (http://perpetuityresearch.com/security-research-initiative/) which, each year, conducts a detailed study on a specific aspect of security.
To download a free copy of the full report visit: http://perpetuityresearch.com/category/publications/security-research-initiative/sri-publications/
Alternatively, send an e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org for more details or telephone: 01892 538690