Choosing your outsourced security: what you need to know

If you’re searching for the best way to improve your company’s security, choosing a third party provider may be the best choice for your business. Often equipped with specialised, well-developed skills that can be hard to find from in-house employment, with outsourced security you get the best of both worlds – effective, practical security options without the cost of resource or extra training time.

When it comes to picking the best company for the job, it’s important to know what you’re looking for, and why. The best security company for your business shouldn’t just meet your needs on paper; they should fit the culture and changing requirements of your business as if it were their own.

An excellent provider can be an invaluable extension to your business, so searching for and forging those secure, trustworthy and flexible relationships can be the key to your success; both in the eyes of your business and of your customers, too.

Like any serious relationship, to succeed in your quest for a comprehensive third-party connection, you need to have the ground rules in place first. Invest in open discussion, ensure you have clarity, and pick the business that values your company as much as you do. Choosing wisely is a must if you want your relationship to succeed, so take some time to sit down and hash it all out.

Ready to consider your third-party prospects? Take this information under consideration to help you make an informed, successful choice first time.

1. Licensing and trading history

The first stage of any hiring process for third-party employees is to conduct the relevant checks, to establish if the business is legally incorporated in their country. For instance, in the UK a government platform called Companies House exists, allowing you to quickly and easily check the legitimacy of a business.

Check that the statutory filings of the company are up to date, and make sure to look at the persons with significant interests or resignations. For example, what other companies are they connected to? Critical questions for any prospective provider should include:

  • How long has the firm been trading?
  • Does the company need to hold a valid licence for different activities issued by a ministry or organisation?
  • Are the individuals within the business also licensed? This is especially applicable in the UK, where people need to hold a government-backed Security Industry Authority (SIA) licence.

2. Insurance cover

Any business you’re looking to work with as a third party provider requires appropriate insurance, in addition to their licensing. The level at which a security firm is insured isn’t only a must for the provider itself to protect themselves, it’s also non-negotiable from the perspective of any potential client.

The knowledge that a provider is insured means that in the event of injury, property damage or any other mishap during operation, they can make a valid claim. Don’t just take their word for it though – ask to see any details of a provider’s insurance to ensure they have commensurate cover for your needs and that specific business activity is covered.

3. References

A requirement for any job interview, it makes sense that when you’re looking to hire a third party company you’d want to have evidence of their skill and capabilities based on past work. Any reputable security company will be able to offer you client testimonials regarding the standard of their work, and it’s important to follow up on these references by speaking to both past and present clients.

A broad range of references and case studies from a third party provider is an excellent start to any considerations, as it gives you an overview of the company’s performance in a variety of different locations and scenarios, as well as an insight into their reliability and quality of care.

Another essential factor to consider is in-company references as well. Do they treat their employees well, and is there a good relationship there? This can make all the difference between a high-performing security service and one that just doesn’t work.

4. Training and recruiting

Once you know that your potential providers are licensed, insured and already have relevant experience, it’s time to look into the training and recruitment policies your chosen providers hold. Ask to see supporting documents confirming military, law enforcement, or other professional experience the company claims its employees have.

In addition to work experience, it’s vital that staff continue to develop their skills and capabilities to stay current, so this is something to look for. Check to see that all assigned personnel are up to date for skills with hard expiry dates and have undergone specialist training for particular services they provide. You may also want to ask what level of screening and vetting takes place during the provider’s hiring process.

For example, in the UK hiring procedures should involve all the following:

  • ID verification, address verification, right to work checks
  • Financial background checks
  • Five-year employment history checks
  • Employment gap analysis
  • X 2 personal references
  • Basic Disclosure (criminal record check if non-SIA)
  • SIA licence check (if applicable).

One of the best ways to ensure well commanded and supervised staff and ultimately effective delivery to the client is an excellent management team, who will be in charge of this hiring process as well as the management of existing staff. Examine the past professional histories and any endorsements by former clients and employers of the managers who will be in charge of any security staff to ensure they line up with your requirements and needs.

5. Scope of service

Not all providers are equal – especially if you’re looking for specific services. Many third-party businesses specialise in particular areas of a trade and only operate within them. It’s important to find out if potential providers have worked in or around other companies of your size, scale or industry sector to understand if they are the right fit for you.

Be wary of any security company that says they can do it all. There’s a reason businesses specialise, as it means they can provide superior services that they have greater knowledge of and skill in. Picking an all-rounder might sound like a good deal, but you likely won’t be receiving the same level of expertise for your services.

6. Finances

When working with a new or previously unknown supplier, it’s always worth having a bit of caution when it comes to the potential finances of providers. The last thing you need is a company in a weak financial position willing to say ‘yes’ to everything only because they need the work, especially in such a specific and highly-demanding role.

A credit check can provide you with the basis you need for reassurance about a potential provider, so be sure to check up for any black marks against a business’s name before you sign on the dotted line. Also, making sure everything is out on the table – from fees to equipment costs, logistics to incidental expenses – from day one can ensure no nasty surprises or changes in payment terms.

7. Contractual agreements and paperwork

Because of the nature of security work, there’s no doubt that security providers will almost inevitably be exposed sensitive information between the parties. This can include everything from business plans to personal details of employees, so ensure that the provider and all their personnel sign non-disclosure agreements before beginning any contract.

The responsibilities of the client and security provider should be clear from the outset. This includes dispute resolution processes, contract reviews, extensions, and terminations, in addition to delineating terms of the actual service, review their standards, policies, and procedures carefully. Ensure they are up to date on essential data management policies too, such as those enforced by GDPR.

8. Public presence

Companies are expected to use the public space to demonstrate their professionalism and competence, whether it’s through the appropriate use of social media or the application and inclusion in awards and accreditations.

A provider that regularly updates its social media feeds with relevant security information, has a substantial online presence with a blog or periodically works with relevant publications is one that’s active in their industry. An organisation or individual who is informed on security-related issues will have their finger on the pulse when it comes to contemporary security challenges, which can be of advantage to you.

Actively promoting their acquisition of awards and accreditations also shows this industry-led dedication, including the management of the company with an ISO 9001 (externally audited) Quality Management System (QMS) or by using British Standards (BSI) as well as industry-based awards and acknowledgements. A company that is proud of their business is one that’s more likely to take pride in their work.

In conclusion

Sometimes the biggest threat to the client is the client themselves, derailing the hiring process by failing to conduct the proper research or learn more about prospective providers. As a business, you ultimately own the security of your organisation – and if a security incident occurs it will be your name in the news, not your chosen providers’. So choose your partners wisely and take the time to make the right decision for you.