Consultants and In-House Security: A Symbiotic Relationship (Pt. 1)
Previously, I wrote about the need for in-house security assets as the best means to protect your business's people, assets, and interests. After all, nobody understands your business like you, and no consultant will place your interests above their own if they want to stay in business. From an in-house perspective, a good consulting firm ensures that its interests align with yours, it's symbiotic. I'll use that word again later. Trust me.
Think of it in terms of specifics versus generalities:
I want to reduce theft from my stores.
I want to increase safety in my parking lots.
That's something the business owner or in-house security asset would say. Consultants need to communicate that their general (or even specific) vision aligns with your specific interests. Their mantra could be something like:
I want to mitigate the risk of theft from retailers.
I want to ensure my daughter can stay late at the office and feel safe walking to her car across the parking lot.
These are basically general statements. The consultant wants to reduce retail crime because that is a net harm on businesses and society. Similarly, there's a personal reason for the consultant's desire to increase parking lot safety for everyone. If you make these any broader, I might recommend joining your local police or sheriff's department. So be wary of getting too general. Stay in your lane, but don't crowd it, because others are sharing and with good reason: those others are your clients and partners.
A consultancy whose specialties lie within the national security realm may not be the firm you want to hire to help you redesign your planned community's on-site security office in Boca Raton, Florida. You cannot be all things to all people. Blackwater isn't patrolling a strip mall in Topeka at the same time as it's providing high-paid operators to protect government dignitaries in semi- or non-permissive environments in absence of DSS agents.
Obviously, missions change. Today's national security consultant can make a business decision to specialize in petroleum or even office spaces. But there's more to it.
I want to ensure that the sea lanes are open in order to promote national and economic security of the nation. (A hypothetical young, hopeful Navy officer)
I want to ensure energy security via maritime shipping from the Gulf of Mexico. (That hypothetical, now older, no-less-hopeful Navy officer turned consultant for Petromex)
A consultant should reinforce your in-house asset's push for a culture of security. After all, you're on the same team. Rather than giving people the impression that Task X can be passed off to the consultant -- sort of "set it and forget it" -- employees and coworkers should see that Task X is being accomplished by the consultant at the direction of their company. Speaking from my own experience, the consultant should definitely partner with the in-house asset to truly teach the value of Task X, and why it's vital to the overall success of the organization.
Remember, the consultant works for the client. Don't confuse that with delivering something to the consultant so they can finalize a product or service for you ("help me, help you"). A good consultant will fit into your organization, and when the contract has expired, will be able to seamlessly transition out of it, a "by, with, and through" operation. Other than the occasional tech or operational support, anything less is unsatisfactory.