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- The only book of its kind dedicated to a ground-up approach to beginning a security consulting practice
- Proven, practical methods to establish and run a security consulting business
- New coverage of utilizing the power of the Internet.
Audience: Independent security services, hardware, and management consultants looking for new "tools of the trade" in maintaining and growing their client base. Security Managers, and new professionals entering the security and security consulting field.
Security Consulting as a Profession
The growth of security management consulting as a profession parallels that of the entire industry of protection in the private sector, whose products and services have dramatically expanded since the 1990s. The increasing demand for consulting services comes as no surprise given the heightened need for security following 9/11, along with corporate downsizing, outsourcing, and technological advances. Up until the Trade Tower attacks of September 2001, security consulting was a specialized niche, and not many security practitioners recognized the opportunities it presented.
Now the need for independent advice and guidance is a given, and the consultant has come of age. No longer is consulting a niche in the protection industry.
Security consulting offers the most exciting new career opportunity within our industry. Indeed, it represents the freshest and most rewarding new career path since security management. There was a time when senior positions represented the "hot button" in the protection industry. Those executive posts are still highly desirable, but now security consulting is equally attractive—indeed, even more so, for a variety of reasons that will be discussed in this work.
COMPARISON OF THE SECURITY EXECUTIVE AND THE CONSULTANT
As a full-time, salaried employee, the security executive of a given corporation serves in some measure as a proprietary or in-house consultant to senior-level management. He or she recommends appropriate and cost-effective strategies to achieve a wide variety of security objectives, loss control, crime prevention, and investigative goals. Certainly a rewarding dimension of that work is the chance to manage and oversee the implementation of the plan and experience the success of the strategy. That is no small reward. Additionally, the company security executive enjoys many employee benefits, including job security.
The security consultant, as an independent operator, gives up such job security and company-provided benefits. More often than not, the consultant has little to do with the organizational activity of the company and the follow-up implementation of recommended programs. Hence, job satisfaction does not derive from the sense of being an organizational team player. The professional consultant's rewards vastly differ from those of the in-house executive. They include the following:
Control over each assignment
Diversity of tasks
Control over one's time
Freedom to be creative
Freedom to disagree and criticize
Freedom to live and work where one chooses
This list deserves closer examination, point by point.
Control over Each Assignment
The corporate employee has little if any control over assignments and tasks mandated by management, even if the employee disagrees with the need or merits of such an assignment. Tasks trickle down the hierarchy in response to imagined or real organizational needs and must be tackled promptly and accordingly. Rare is the security executive who has not grit his or her teeth in frustration over dead-end, unproductive, or unnecessary assignments.
The consultant, as an independent professional, obviously is not so obliged. He or she may decide not to accept an assignment, and the rejection of a specific task need not jeopardize the relationship with that client. If a consultant, for example, personally objects to spending time conducting statistical evaluations, she or he is free to reject such work and recommend someone else with appropriate skills to do it, and do it more efficiently and at a lesser cost, or the task can be subcontracted to another.
That kind of control over one's work is, in and of itself, rewarding.
Diversity of Tasks
The security executive of a given firm devotes years to focusing on one organization—or a given number of specific organizations, if the employer is a corporate or holding company. Put another way, the executive's view is limited, and such limitations tend to narrow one's perspective. Only so much tinkering, so much organizational realignment, so much security manual updating can occur. And a company's security mission rarely if ever dramatically changes.
The security consultant's work is virtually limitless, even if the area of specialization is narrow. Suppose a consultant specializes in retail security exclusively. The diversity in retail operations is staggering and includes the following criteria:
Type of merchandise being sold
Number of stores
Size of stores
Location of stores
Number of company employees
Size and organizational design of the security or loss prevention department
Mission of security department (apprehension or prevention)
Warehouse and distribution system
Inventory shrinkage performance history
Known history of litigation problems
My own consulting practice is not restricted to retail, but in just that one specialty I have consulted a range of clients:
A membership department store with seven stores, all located within 150 miles of each other
An international mass-merchandiser
A university's student store operation
An exclusive Beverly Hills high-fashion retailer with only one store
A drugstore chain in northern Mexico
A fashion department store's regional division
A Midwest discount chain with stores in several states
A national shoe store firm
A military post exchange
A hardware store chain
Each of those retail consulting assignments had a different mission. Here are a few examples:
One client had no formal or structured security department, so my task was to design one from the ground up, write a security manual, and outline job descriptions.
One client wanted a structured training program for agents who specialized in the detection and apprehension of shoplifters.
One retailer wanted an audiovisual program for all employees to convey the message that security is everyone's responsibility.
Another retailer limited the scope of my work to analyzing the company's distribution system for what management suspected was a faulty system that facilitated internal theft.
Several retailers wanted to reduce inventory shrinkage without implementing major organizational changes.
Thus the diversity represented in the needs of each consultant's client makes for new challenges on an ongoing basis. Nothing becomes routine. There's no chance for burnout to occur. The horizons are limitless. The adventure of each day is the daily motivator. And the day's adventure proves to be the day's reward, the professional reward.
Control over One's Time
Rare is the person who does not count the days until vacation time or the holiday weekend. Such counting does not indicate dissatisfaction with one's career but rather points out our longing for personal time, time not dictated by the company enterprise. The independent consultant truly owns and controls her or his own time. One of my colleagues simply refuses to schedule work one week each month; that week allows personal time for him and his family.
I do not so strictly regiment my time each month, but when a job involves travel, I do set aside extra days to visit friends and relatives, to enjoy warm beaches or golf courses, and to replenish my own wellspring of life.
Freedom to Be Creative
Certainly, creative freedom varies from organization to organization. To suggest that security executives never enjoy such freedom would be erroneous. Yet one cannot deny that more constraints exist within a given corporate culture, and employees can be inhibited about applying new ideas in solving old problems. Typically, the outside professional consultant is not influenced by those corporate constraints.
Management generally will consider recommendations and ideas from a consultant that would be rejected off-hand if suggested by members of the company's own staff. This is a phenomenon I do not fully understand, but it does happen.
Let us say that a consultant perceives that a company's line supervisors do not understand the role of security and do not support the protection program. Everyone, including the firm's security director, knows that supervisory support tends to bring about line employee acceptance of company programs. The objective, then, is to get the supervisors' support. Whereas the security director would not dare suggest that supervisors from various departments be included as observers in actual security investigations (to better understand the consequence of good security), the consultant could suggest such a radical idea. And that creative approach could be met with acceptance and implementation.
If senior managers did not seek new, creative, dynamic suggestions and alternative ideas, they would not call in a consultant. If they had the solution to their problems in hand, they would not need a consultant.
The corporate security executive, no matter how talented he or she may be, runs out of new ideas over time, not because of a lack of imagination but because of the limitations automatically imposed by the confines of the corporate entity. And many executives have learned that the conservative approach bears fewer risks of exposing oneself to ridicule or rejection. The consultant is new to the corporate entity and its problems or challenges, and that freshness inspires new solutions. Furthermore, the consultant need not fear exposure or rejection, because a certain percentage of a consultant's work is rejected (recommendations not accepted or followed) in virtually every assignment.
This creativity is not limited to recommendations to clients. How the consultant manages her or his practice allows for the expression of a distinct personality and sense of creativity. That includes how books and records are maintained, how the work product (the consultant's final report) is packaged, and how projects are proposed. All facets of the professional approach can reflect the individual businessperson. Security consulting is a new enough field that there are no wheel ruts in the road left by those who preceded us. There are, in fact, few roads.
Freedom to Disagree and Criticize
As oversimplified and perhaps trite as it may sound, executives are expected to agree and accept, whereas independent consultants are expected to disagree and criticize. The corporate executive who criticizes management and the consultant who fully accepts a client's program will soon be headed for new career opportunities elsewhere.
This is not to suggest that consultants should seek confrontations or approach their clients as adversaries. Rather, they are obliged by virtue of their objectivity, independence, and professionalism to respond directly and honestly to a client's challenges. Straight talk is the consultant's privilege, right, and freedom. It is a unique and rewarding experience to warn clients that they may not be happy with your assessment of their operation while the clients still encourage you to be candid.
I have been advised, in previous assignments, to avoid confronting the chief executive officer with what was perceived as the company's taboo topic, out of fear that my entire consulting project would be thrown out the corporate door. I have never been dissuaded from following my conscience and reporting my findings and, as sensitive as some issues have been, I have never suffered as a result of that honest commitment.
Excerpted from SECURITY CONSULTING, FOURTH EDITION by Charles A. Sennewald. Copyright © 2013 Elsevier, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Elsevier.
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