As companies grow and develop there is a greater need to protect their people, premises, and investments, and security becomes a priority. One of the most common questions that companies ask when exploring how to set up a security team is whether to hire a contract security firm or bring security in-house.
What is proprietary security?
Proprietary security (also called in-house security) is when a company takes on all aspects of the ownership and operation of its security detail. This means that the employees on the security team are company employees and that all aspects of the training, certification, and equipping of security personnel, the development of policies and procedures, and the daily management and operation of the security operation fall to the company.
- Flexibility and customization: This is perhaps the greatest advantage of taking this approach for company security. Because the company is in control of all aspects of the security operation, it can customize and shape it to exactly meet its particular needs.
- Control of hiring: Security personnel are often the first face employees see when arriving for work and the last face they see as they leave for the day. Having these interactions be positive ones is critical for setting a positive tone for employees. When a company owns its security operations, it can hire exactly the right people for the job, and this is a huge advantage.
- Control of policies and training: Another benefit of keeping security in-house is control over the security policies and training. Perhaps a company wants its security team to be trained for highly specialized situations or they may want to have security officers enforce policies in a very specific way. When a company owns the security operation, it can define everything about it to meet its exact specifications.
- Lower turnover: Controlling all aspects of hiring, salaries, benefits, and policies means that a company has the ability to create a truly positive team experience and culture that aligns with its values. This will reduce turnover on the security team and create a sense of stability both on the security team and for the company in general.
- Cost: While the flexibility and control are great, the most obvious con of in-house security is the cost. All security personnel are company employees on the company payroll and receiving company benefits. In addition, the company must foot the bill for all hiring and training costs, equipment, and anything else necessary for the team to function properly. This cost to implement and upkeep a security operation can sometimes be prohibitive for smaller companies, and they may not be able to achieve the economies of scale like larger security firms can.
- Management: Sometimes there are disputes between employees and security team members, meaning that companies potentially face messy personnel situations. An outsourced contract security provides a buffer of sorts from these types of situations and allows companies to more easily and neatly resolve these types of issues and disputes without complex HR situations.
Learn more about how to build a security team.
What is contract security?
Contract security is when a company contracts with a third-party firm that specializes in offering security services. Contract security firms manage all hiring, training, management, and placing of security personnel at your sites, and they ensure the smooth functioning of the security operation on a day-by-day basis.
- Cost: Generally speaking, contract security is less expensive than creating an in-house security team from scratch. Contract security companies have the advantage of being able to leverage economies of scale when it comes to hiring, training, and placing security personnel. They also have standard operating procedures across their operations and clients, which reduces development costs for security programs. These cost savings allow contract security to outcompete proprietary security on price nearly every time.
- Delegated risk: Another advantage of contract security is delegating the risk associated with enforcing security protocols. Security by its very nature has risk, as personnel are responsible for deterring crime, preventing loss, and enforcing security policies. Some companies prefer that the legal and personal risks associated with enforcing these protocols be outsourced. Contract security firms allow you to do just that.
- Speed of implementation: Because contract security companies focus solely on providing security services, they allow you to get up and running quickly with your security operation. This speed of implementation cannot be matched by setting up an in-house security team.
- Lack of control over talent: Contract security officers are not your employees but are the employees of the contract security company. This means that the contract security firm has sole discretion over which personnel are placed in and removed from a company’s sites. While companies may have some influence on these decisions, they will lack the complete control that they would have otherwise in a proprietary security scenario.
- High turnover: Contract security companies generally have higher turnover among their employees, which means that it is not uncommon to constantly have fresh faces and new talent on companies’ security teams. This turnover sometimes conveys a sense of instability and inconsistency that companies may prefer to avoid.
- Less control over operations: Companies will have the ability to customize certain aspects of their security operation in a contract security scenario, but most contract security firms have standard operating procedures that cannot be changed. Some companies may not like this lack of control over their operations.
The Bottom Line
There are clear advantages and disadvantages to each approach to a company’s security operations. A company must evaluate what it values most in its security operations—whether it wants the flexibility of a proprietary security team or the benefits of an externally managed contract security firm. The good news is that, at the end of the day, either approach will help a company make progress towards its goal of protecting its people, property, and premises.
NITA offers online security training courses for security professionals. Our courses can help your security personnel meet continuing education requirements or pre-licensing and certification requirements for your particular area. We offer a wide variety of courses for both proprietary security and contract security teams alike, and we invite you to explore our full course offerings.
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