Editor’s Note: This an update of a post originally published in July 2016

For security personnel managers, hardware such as CCTV, Access Control, Video Management Systems (VMS) are important tools, but security personnel remain at the core of any security strategy. In fact, security personnel are your biggest asset and often your biggest investment.

Failure to account for the importance of security personnel has contributed to the commoditization of the security guard business and driven some players in the market to differentiate themselves based on price as opposed to quality.

Leading security companies are moving away from price differentiation and choosing instead to equip their frontline security personnel with the right tools to deliver quality service. They are utilizing security workforce management software to give their security guards a chance to demonstrate added value as well as to increase their productivity and efficiency.

There are many operational benefits of implementing security workforce management software, such as its aid in patrol and response services. Another facet of this technology is its usage on mobile devices and the greater transparency that it affords. Following are the ins and outs of integrating mobile devices into your workforce management software solution for your security personnel.

BYOD vs. company devices

The first step to implementing a mobile solution at your organization is defining your policy on device allocation and whether you will supply company devices or ask employees to bring their own devices (BYOD) to run an application.

Choosing to supply devices to your security personnel has benefits such as greater control of information security, a standardized approach to make and model use, the ability to limit usage to certain functionalities, etc. The downsides to equipping security personnel with a company device are mainly linked to the cost of purchase and the cell phone plans required to run your devices. Meanwhile, data security can also be an issue if robust protocols are not set up and implemented. Some of these issues can be mitigated by the use of shared phones that are left on site as long as each individual is able to personally log in and out of the workforce management application.

BYOD, on the other hand, represents a cheaper option for security companies and shifts the expense to security personnel. It does however bring its own set of challenges including non-work use/distraction, device compatibility, and information security.

A hybrid model may fit some organizations with certain levels of seniority being issued devices, while others are under a BYOD regime – subject to appropriate planning and security.

Compatible technology & device security

If you are going to provide your security personnel with devices, you need to consider the operating system and the knock-on effect on the technology you’re using as part of your security operations. For example, Near Field Communication (NFC) tags can be read and written by Android devices, whereas iOS 11+ devices can only read NFC tags currently. In a similar way, it’s important to select workforce management software that supports various scanning options – QR, NFC, and barcode, as well as GPS tracking.

Another aspect to consider when you’re leveraging mobile devices as a core tool in your security operations is to mitigate the information security risk from lost, stolen or otherwise compromised devices. There are a number of security steps you can take to minimize the risk of data loss, namely:

  • Encrypting devices and/or adding phone uncode locks
  • Establishing a short (but reasonable) lock-out time
  • In a BYOD environment, segmenting business and personal data
  • Having capabilities to remotely wipe out data and lock devices
  • Creating robust protocols for app downloads

Embedding change

The benefits of the investment in security workforce management software will trickle down into all aspects of your organizations. However, since technology is simply a tool and enabler, you must ensure that adequate training is provided to your security personnel to help them experience the benefits in their own role.

When choosing the right security workforce management software for your organization, picking an intuitive, web-based provider will make user adoption easier and help you derive a greater ROI. You should also choose a platform that can help automate certain processes such as explaining what actions need to be carried out at a checkpoint to further support your security personnel.

In this way, your security personnel will find the platform easy to use and also recognize the value it brings in terms of facilitating their daily duties e.g. by eliminating the need to file paper reports.

When you equip your security personnel with mobile devices, coupled with the right workforce security management software, you’ll find that your productivity levels are boosted and that you consolidate the importance of security personnel back at the heart of your security operations.