Integrating Technology and Contract Officer Management

The ease of apps finally comes to manned security.

Sponsored by Protos

The convenience of today’s app-driven world is all around us. Whether we’re on the road, ordering a ride or mapping a route, or at work, creating notes, scheduling a meeting, or getting a reminder that we have a meeting, the convenience is there. From managing our health, to booking a vacation, to keeping tabs on friends, to buying tickets to a show, apps offer a way to simplify, speed, and enhance our lives.

So ubiquitous and indispensable are apps that they’re perhaps most noticeable in their absence. Think about those times when you find yourself slogging through a task the way you’ve always done it, wondering why it is that no one’s come up with a better way. Managing security officers can be like that.

“Traditional relationships with security guard companies are riddled with inefficiencies,” notes Patrick Henderson, co-owner and founder of Protos Security, which delivers nationwide security guard services through its 4,000 screened and vetted vendors and unifying management platform.

Not surprisingly, the bulk of deficiencies tilt in favor of vendors. Take the issue of late guard arrivals, which traditional time-and-attendance obscures, and results in clients paying for time that guards aren’t on duty, as well as gaps in coverage that create security risk.

“By capturing actual time worked—not projected—and making it easy to create a report where guards are used and where incidents are happening, LP professionals are able to come up with an accurate security guard budget,” said Henderson. “Additionally, real-time reporting shows them where they are year-to-date in comparison to budget, which permits better management of guard dollars.”

LP leaders have grown accustomed to technology’s advantages in other aspects of security and for theft investigations. New software tools and devices are routinely released that make it easier for LP teams to extract intelligence from data and automate tedious tasks. User-friendliness and feature-rich capabilities are inherent in the designs of these LP solutions.

On the human side of security, however, when it comes to managing the people who provide protection, LP executives have enjoyed less innovation. Protos Security took aim at that void, creating an easy-to-use suite of digital tools, which include a web-based client portal and mobile app. The company’s technology is helping—at last—to simplify and unify the process of managing a large security guard program.

So what are some of the pain points being solved by bringing technology to bear on the contract security guard industry?

Flexibility. “Whether it be a fire watch situation, a construction project that goes long or ends early, a hurricane coming, or a rise in crime in an area, LP professionals need to be able to adjust their level of security easily and efficiently,” explained Chris Copenhaver, co-owner and founder of Protos. But while flexibility is at the foundation of effective protection and store security, it hasn’t been something that the industry has generally facilitated. Now, however, adding, changing, or ending guard services is possible with a click of a mouse or a tap on a screen.

One LP manager, with a need for 400-plus hours a week of armed guards, explained the legacy process he inherited to order guard services. “I had to carry a binder with me everywhere that had all my stores listed, and I had vendors that we had used in the past listed by the stores. When I would need to request a guard, I would start calling vendors. In several cases, I’d call vendors that I had never used before, spend hours trying to find and vet a vendor, and, in many cases, I wouldn’t be able to fill a post because of billing and or insurance requirements,” said Eric Williams, senior loss prevention manager at City Gear.

Bringing technology to guard management has completely transformed that process. With Protos, for example, clients simply request a guard right from the company’s app. “No more calling vendors, checking certifications and insurance. Now I can request a guard from my phone,” he said, adding that his business requires a lot of last-minute requests and he now rarely has an unfilled post.

Visibility. “The reality is that LP teams are located in the corporate office, not in the store,” noted Kris Vece, vice president of client relations at Protos. “So they’ve traditionally had no real way of knowing if a guard showed up or not, or immediately knowing what was happening at the store level, which often led to incidents escalating to emergency levels.”

It’s exactly the kind of problem that technology can—and finally has—solved. Protos, for example, via its online client portal, provides a real-time status map, which offers complete transparency of time and attendance. Every store location with an active schedule appears on the real-time map and updates every 30 seconds. Differently colored map pins denote the status (upcoming schedule, clocked-in, tardy), and clicking on a pin navigates to the location detail for that site.

It’s not only people that can now be easily tracked. It’s also problems. Guards report all incidents through Protos’ Interactive Voice Response system—which they also use to clock in and out-and the 24/7 Protos Dispatch Center immediately transcribes incidents and sends notification emails to pre-defined individuals.

“Clients have told us that in the past they didn’t know the severity of incidents that were happening at their locations,” said Vece. “But LP teams now have 24/7 access to easily see exactly what the status of guards are at every store throughout the country, as well as if any incidents are occurring at the store.”

Simplicity. Although technology’s proactive features are typically a big selling point, speeding the completion of mundane tasks is where the real money is. “I used to spend an average of two days per month calling stores and vendors for time sheets,” said City Gear’s Eric Williams of his old binder-driven days. “Now, everything is in one place. When it comes to billing, Protos gave me at least two days a month back.”

By removing day-to-day administrative burdens of maintaining a large guard program, and allowing for easy access to real-time data and customized user-generated reports, LP leaders are able to save time and money.

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