Guidelines for Hiring a Security Consultant

October 18th, 2011 | Security Articles & Tips

Excerpt taken from Secure Network Communities

GUIDELINES FOR HIRING A SECURITY CONSULTANT

When seeking the services of a security consultant, it is crucial to match your needs or requirements with the specific expertise and experience of the right consultant. Keep in mind the following as you begin looking for a security consultant.

If It Says “One Size Fits All,” It Doesn’t Fit Anyone.

Few consultants would presume to offer one-stop shopping for all your security needs. The consultant who claims to be an expert on workplace violence, CCTV, personnel security issues, warehouse and transportation security, and proprietary information programs – or an expert on your industry plus six others – might not be the genuine article. To keep up with changes in technology, law, management and organizational structure, a consultant would have to devote 19 hours a day to staying current. In short, these days you can’t be an expert generalist.

Beware Of The Bargain.

Most established, reliable consultants have an established fee structure. It was in place long before your call came in, because they know their business and how much time and effort the project will take and what their costs will be. There will always be some negotiation, but the basic pricing should remain constant, and that’s to your advantage as much as to the consultant’s.

Statement of Work.

If you’re only going to ask one consultant for a proposal, a good strategy is to ask that consultant to help you develop a statement of work. If you will have several candidates for the project, ask them to provide comments and questions in a draft proposal. This will level the playing field and help crystallize the working relationship and scope of services. You’ll know early on whether your expectations are realistic. Few consultants will decline to help out in this development process, because it allows them to showcase their expertise and knowledge of the project requirements; it is an excellent test drive without obligation.

There’s No Such Thing As Instant Experience.

Seek expertise with only the best professional reputations and competencies. How do you find and evaluate them? From the recommendations of those who knew them, on the basis of their academic and professional credentials and on the basis of their independent and creative natures.

The same applies to hiring a security consultant. Primary selection criteria include recommendations from other consultants and industry specialists you’ve had contact with and whose opinions you respect.

Other criteria include formal education, professional development programs and certifications by professional societies. A consultant’s publications and professional papers can be valuable as well, especially if peer review is a means of selection. Consultants who write for professional publications have to keep abreast of the myriad changes in technology, techniques and trends. Consultants who are not “product-affiliated” are most likely to provide economical, creative solutions, because they can make objective assessments and recommendations.

Other resources that will help you identify the right consultant are commercial referral services and professional organizations. These groups use databases to link you with consultants who have already been screened and whose credentials have already been verified .

ADDITIONAL TIPS

• Determine whether your candidate is truly a full-time independent security consultant, not a part-time consultant or one that is tied to the sale of products or other services, such as a hardware salesman, guard contractor or private detective who professes to do it all.

• Examine the consultant’s credentials. Look for the “CPP” “Certified Protection Professional” designation from ASIS, or a Registered Member of the International Association of Professional Security Consultants.

• Does the prospective consultant carry professional liability (E&O) insurance? Not the state-mandated private investigator’s or guard providers Insurance, but Professional Liability Insurance with limits of liability sufficient to protect your assets, many do not. Ask the question, and require a copy of their security companies insurance certificate.

• Beware of the Bargain! A person who does not offer a total solution but only offers a list of tasks at a bargain rate may in fact never complete the real assignment, may not do it well, and it may cost you more. Require a fixed fee and a work plan. Often times the high-end consultant is more cost efficient and cost effective, not only in terms of project cost, but in terms of value to your institution, because he may have a better understanding of your needs, and can therefore work more efficiently.

• Once a consultant is engaged, you get hooked. Good consultant(s) will teach you what they know, what they have learned and they will work with you to devise mechanisms to address present and future needs. They know when to move on, and when to be available for new challenges.