For an organization to function smoothly, the prerequisite is to build a safe and secure environment for its human resources and assets of all nature. And that sums up why security services play an integral role in any organization – right from retail sector to IT companies. And the same sentiment was reflected at a recent leadership conclave organized by BetterPlace in partnership with KSSA (Karnataka Security Services Association), where we brought together employers representing different sectors, and their thought process when they engage a security service in their companies. With an eclectic mix of leaders from organizations like Virtuous Retail, Capgemini, CBRE, ECA, HP, Britannia, DTDC and Honeywell, there was a lot of valuable takeaway to imbibe in their work culture for the security agencies – both in terms of compliance and training. The panel discussion about verified and trained staff also brought in the security agencies’ perspective through participation from KSSA and Terrier Security Services.
Talking of challenges, Jonathan Yach (Director – retail operations – Virtuous Retail), brought up an interesting insight, saying that the retail world is continuously being disrupted by e-commerce and is rapidly changing. And so, the security staff needs to keep up with that. He also said that the high attrition of his trained staff was a major challenge that his company is facing. He suggested grading and training of the guards so that the employers know if they are trained to understand their needs or not.
When talking of security guards, the manpower tends to be a key factor. But here was an interesting take on manpower by Capt Lata DS, security head, Honeywell. According to her, the employers always placed outcome above manpower. So, irrespective of whether one man delivers the job, or it take 10, 20 or 100 of them, the most important factor is whether the task is taken care of effectively or not. She also said that the security sector needs to catch up the pace with the evolving digitization around it.
Adding to her perspective, Arjan Sawney, Director, AT & T from CBRE, agreed saying that security services should try moving towards digitization and automation. The purpose of which should not be to reduce the manpower, but to improve the outcome. To which, Sumeet Sharma, service delivery head – India corporate real estate and services – Capgemini, said that the security services need to align themselves with the expectations of the employers. There should be compliance with the law of the land. And it needs to be ensured that the people are well-trained, well-paid and accredited.
Bringing his insight of 15 years into the industry, Col Darshan Bal, MD, Terrier Security Services, said that the major challenge that this industry is facing is to have enough margin to be able to invest in their people, their training, compliance etc. The other roadblock for a security agency is to get a license or get the existing one renewed as it can take anywhere from six months to two years. Meanwhile, the companies keep functioning in the absence of the license which often leads to unforeseen consequences. So from the service providers’ perspective, he said that a huge number of players, stiff competition, and low margins are some of the challenges that they face. Responding to other panel members, he also said that digitization is set to happen soon in this industry.
Preethi Vickram, the chapter head – ECA – regional head, Podar Jumbo Kids, offered an intriguing thought on how security guards need to tailor their services for different customers. She said that the guards are the first point of contact for the kids and parents when they enter the school. So a guard has to know how to cater to the needs of kids as well as adults. Talking of employers’ expectations, Nandan Bhatia, admin and facilities head at Britannia, said that the security services need to work towards enhancing the deliverables. For instance, are we adhering to prescribed training standards issued by PSARA (Private Security Agency Regulation Act)? Their accountability needs to be enhanced. He also gratefully said to the security personnel that they are the reason they could sleep peacefully at night. The same sentiment was echoed by Capt Lata and Arjan as well.
From the service providers’ perspective, Joseph Rajkumar who was representing G4S and KSSA, said that the concept of the security guard and security services is gradually evolving over the years. Today, the proper guidelines, KPIs and KRAs are in place for them. He said that they hear the employers and they will catch up the pace with their expectations.
Out of industries where security services are absolutely indispensable, courier companies come first. And so Ashwani Kumar Gupta, head of facilities, security and vigilance at DTDC Express, said that they consider security as their partners, and so compliance is not an issue with them. The main concern lies with their training and catering to the needs of their business. Here, they are required to handle packages that don’t belong to them. So they need to be vertically trained for that. If they align with the vision of the company, the problem will be taken care of.
Following this, VR Srinivas, regional security head, south Asia at HP Enterprises, said that he sees security as the enablers of productivity. He cited that there has been an IT boom here in the recent times. While IT professionals and R&D segment are making it happen, there’s no denying that it couldn’t have been possible if the security services weren’t keeping them safe. And if we want more US-based companies to come do business here, they require as assurance from security services to deliver accordingly. They need to focus on brand building and embrace technology in whatever way it comes.
Sumeet added to this, saying that they often face a communication issue with them. To organize this, maybe there should be a periodic review, maybe the MD should come down once in a while because it is a threat analysis industry. Their purpose shouldn’t be lost in diversification. Arjan also expressed that open communication between the parties is essential. And that the expectations should be realistic and set at right levels.
As the discussion neared conclusion, the audience and the speakers engaged in a discussion regarding flexible SLAs. To this, the employers clearly opined that SLAs should be set at achievable levels but they should not be flexible because it will only lead to crumbling of standards.