The Changing Security Landscape

Security is a labor-intensive, high turnover, low margin business. Covering shifts effectively depends on both good planning and effective management of last minute (short-notice) changes. To achieve this, businesses need to look beyond simple scheduling. In recent years, awareness has heightened over corporate and public security. As a result, many security companies have quickly grown in size, but continue to solve problems the old way. Continuing to operate with manual, paper-based approaches to scheduling and time & attendance tracking impact all aspects of the business,

  • Shifts are missed or double-booked
  • Schedule creation consumes too much staff time
  • Staff spend too much time on the phone making adjustments
  • Scheduling errors increase overtime costs
  • Managers get by with limited visibility on attendance
  • Employees are frustrated by inequitable scheduling
  • Staff enter the same data multiple times in scheduling, billing and payroll systems

On top of all this, companies are increasingly caught in a squeeze of tight margins, high customer expectations and a rapidly changing schedule.

At some point “status quo” no longer makes sense. Today, failure to implement affordable tools, that help plan schedules and manage disruptions, results in a loss of competitive advantage — and can even jeopardize contracts.

What is it?

Workforce Management is a term used to describe employee staffing. All companies engage in management in one way or another. How well you perform in these areas determines your profitability.
Management systems are called on for a wide range of needs,

  • Planning and tracking qualified security presence
  • Printing audit-able, up-to-the-minute coverage reports
  • Providing short notification management tools that ensure coverage while limiting unrecoverable overtime
  • Managing payroll to reduce errors and time spent on reconciliation
  • Reducing hours fighting fires in the schedule, increasing time to do the business of management

Why Invest Now?

The right management software will provide intuitive tools that deliver a return on investment in a matter of months, not years. Better employee scheduling solutions can bring immediate financial gains and long-term benefits in worker productivity. In their fall report, investment firm Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. observed that management tools can “achieve the elusive and seemingly contradictory goals of lower labor costs combined with higher levels of customer service.”

To illustrate, we can look at one prominent problem in Security: short-notice changes in the schedule arising from last-minute client orders, sickness among employees, cancelled shifts and changed shift locations. Consider some of the implications when management tools are not available.

Problem AreaSituationResult
Short Notice ChangesUnfilled or Understaffed Shifts
  • Cancelled contracts, loss of business
  • Loss of revenue from unfulfilled work
  • Unbalanced workloads, leading to employee burnout, high absenteeism, and attrition
  • Increased payroll and training costs
Systemic Overtime Shifting
  • Increased payroll costs
  • Subsequent lack of staffing flexibility
Non Compliance With Business or Union Rules
  • Unable to correctly enforce union, customer or government regulations
  • Excess scheduling manpower costs
  • Increased costs in the form of audits, penalties
  • Loss of business

Moving To The Next Level

A suitable management system for security maximizes efficiency in the planning, publishing and adjustment of shifts. It also goes beyond management-side functions; employee self-serve functions bring compound benefits. Employee self-scheduling allows employees not only to input their availability, but to assign themselves for the shifts that they would like to work – reducing staff scheduling time.

Value-Added Scheduling
Modules
Area AddressedBenefit
Time & Attendance Confirmation ToolsLate or disputed check-in
  • Instant visibility on uncovered scheduled tasks
  • Faster reaction time means decreased overtime to outgoing shifts
  • Scheduling management can identify a potential lapse in coverage before the client does
  • Continuity of service quality; possible cancelled contracts
Discrepancies between hours claimed, hours worked and hours budgeted
  • An end to punching-in more hours than actually worked (e.g. due to buddy punching)
  • Decreased payroll costs
  • Fewer disputes on time worked
  • Automated reconciliation for decreased payroll management costs
Employee Enabled Communication Tools

  • Voice
  • Email
  • Internet
Under-communication of employee relevant data
  • Fewer hours working on the schedule-time gained for other areas of business management
  • More schedule and shift flexibility makes a better fit. This is better for employees. More up-to-date information also means a better solution can be crafted by schedulers
  • Transparency, fairness and buy-in to schedules

The Importance of an Integrated Solution

Security companies have a lot to gain from employee-operated schedule tools. Reliable tools that capture and display actual hours worked result in fewer errors, meaning fewer duty time-related pay disputes. These tools take the onus off management, enhance cost efficiency, and save on administrative overhead. From a client perspective, when the system can provide on-demand audits of actual security presence the security company’s value increases.

Communication tools like interactive telephone and internet portals go further still. Employees can get their schedule, get notes, and make their schedule needs known during convenient non-work hours. The result is more shared knowledge about availability, and more buy-in from staff, without management intervention.

Types of Solutions on the Market

Today, security companies can select management solutions tailored for their industry, with a feature set that matches their specific needs. Here’s a list of management system features commonly requested by the security industry,

  • Automatic overtime and double booking notification
  • Qualifications tracking & enforcement
  • Flexible, configurable views of the scheduling platform
  • Audit trails of post coverage
  • Easy-to-use interface
  • Automated payroll data capture & cost forecasting
  • Automated alerts and rule checking
  • Ability to quickly adjust levels to reflect changes in demand
  • Performance and complaints tracking
  • Automation of routine communications
  • Management-focused reporting
  • Variance analysis tools
  • Integration with external enterprise tools

Case Study: A Large Security Company

The following example highlights how an actual company uses management to streamline scheduling and its costs.

Challenge

A large security company, with more than 700 regular employees, formerly used Excel spreadsheets and Word documents to schedule employees. For a time, staff tried an online document sharing solution, but found it difficult to catch overtime. Managers lacked the checks and balances to prevent them from accidentally booking an employee in two places at once, or from failing to assign someone to a shift. Errors resulted in unforeseen overtime.

Solution

The company brought in a leading management solution to simplify scheduling. With the system, personnel managers match qualified people with open positions quickly and accurately. The on-demand software enables supervisors to access and adjust scheduling at anytime, from anywhere.
The software also integrates with the company’s payroll solution, eliminating the need to re-enter scheduling data. Schedules are created once and that information is exported into the payroll application for payroll processing.

Benefits of Management

  • The company saves more than 12,000 hours in overtime annually, reducing costs by tens of thousands of dollars
  • The company smoothly managed security for a major entertainment awards show, scheduling hundreds of staff members for 55,000 hours
  • Site supervisors access schedules via laptop anytime, anywhere
  • Integration with the payroll system cuts data entry

Conclusion

At the end of the day, security companies need a solution with an excellent return on investment, through quality coverage at a lower net cost.

The right solution will give your company’s planners, dispatchers and employees insight into the workforce problem that is timely and accurate. They should provide efficient tools both for planning and adjusting the plan. They should highlight relevant problems, and automate compliance with business rules, on a user-friendly platform.
They should help you save money, and free up management to take care of the bigger picture.

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