Technology Desc

TIPS FOR CHOOSING A SOFTWARE PARTNER

Tony Unfried, CSA360

As companies grow or become acquired, they tend to change; whether it’s an increase in price, a  decrease in customer service, or both. It’s important to be aware of these changes because it affects  the quality of service you receive. As you navigate your relationships with trusted partners, we’ve found  some best practices that can help you assess whether your needs are being met: 

The company you choose provides consistent outstanding client services. This is the most important  asset a partner can provide. Do your users have access to knowledge base articles? Do their support  tickets get fast and efficient responses? Your team should be able to ask questions and be provided with  high-quality answers. 

Does the company know your business goals? Is your trusted partner checking in quarterly to connect  with stakeholders to learn how they can support your growth? Do they know exactly what tools you will  need further down the pipeline? Maintaining clear communication is key so your partner can launch  new services the moment your team is ready. 

They supply hands-on training. Being able to work through real time scenarios with a highly trained  implementation specialist can make all the difference in your onboarding experience. Being able to learn  the software by doing is the best way to retain training. In addition, it’s important to have a key team  member to hold that knowledge to train new staff and manage any turnover that may occur. 

Along with training through real time scenarios, having homework scenarios prior to the next training  can be equally as helpful. It provides a challenge to learning the software and allows the trainers to see  what needs more focus and if trainees are truly retaining the information.  

Leadership in innovation. In this competitive market, companies grow by staying innovative.  Introducing new features and benefits can help improve the status quo. Receiving these  communications via newsletter or email can give you access to new features, often without any  additional cost. 

Company transparency is everything. Is your partner following through with promises made to their  client base, to the employees, and to their product? As some companies grow, their transparency can  become opaque. They focus less on the quality of what they provide and more on the quantity of who  they can provide too. 

The security landscape is constantly changing with new challenges to be met. It’s now more important  than ever to vet your choices. Plan a meeting with potential partners to find out what they’re about and  be ready to make the switch if they can’t provide these key aspects. You want to choose someone who  can provide you with unwavering customer support- a White Glove Partnership. 

Tony Unfried, CEO of CSA360, holds a master’s degree in Public Affairs and Criminal Justice from Indiana University, where he graduated with honors. While enrolled in his master’s program, Tony worked for The TJX Companies, Inc., leading the region in loss prevention and moving the company toward technology use in Security. Tony went on to join the most significant security company in Indiana, managing more than 500 employees and 50 sites, including the Indiana Convention Center, Bankers Life Fieldhouse, and Ruoff Home Mortgage Music Center. Seeing a noticeable gap in technology use in the physical security sector, Tony created his first security software application, launched at the Super Bowl in 2012, and recognized twice for Excellence in Mobile Technology by Techpoint. Tony has also spoken on Tech in Physical Security on panels with ASIS and IAVM.

THREE TIPS TO REDUCE OVERTIME, NOW. 

Plus: Things to keep in mind when dealing with overtime during a labor shortage.

Gail Tutt, TEAM Software by WorkWave

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: the best way to reduce overtime is to stop it before it starts. It’s a little cliché, especially when overtime (and, unfortunately, non-billable overtime) is an inherent part of the security industry. Still, there are several tactics you can use to get a handle on overtime and manage labor costs. 

1. Know your service-level agreements. This doesn’t just mean at the executive level. Because SLAs dictate the service standards and pricing obligations you’re required to deliver to your customers, it’s imperative that any employee who is involved in managing your company’s scheduling is well versed in bill and pay rates by contract. By ensuring understanding in all scheduling roles, you can prevent costly mistakes (like wage creep, which can occur in a variety of scenarios, but especially when officers are scheduled for overtime shifts outside of the scope of what’s budgeted per job.) 

By knowing your SLAs inside and out, your company is also setting up the foundation for best practices in job costing. With industry-specific software solutions to assist in the heavy lifting of tracking and analyzing job performance, you can see at a glance which jobs are lending themselves to your profit margins, and which are under performing.

2. Don’t forget about compliance. In some cases, there’s no way around scheduling overtime without compromising your compliance with state and federal labor law regulations and overtime rules. In our industry, there are compliance risks posed from misclassification, recordkeeping and other hour and wage-related activities that can turn your timekeeping and overtime tracking into a headache. Earlier this year, even, this entity reported a wage settlement (with waiting time penalties) due to an upheld ruling alleging an employer failed to include meal period premiums on wage statements. A different case in 2021 found the California Supreme Court upholding that employers are required to pay meal and rest break violation premiums at the same rate as when paying overtime. Translation: these costs add up quickly.

While many integrated workforce management solutions don’t track compliance for you, they do provide tools to more easily prove compliance. Look for feature sets which include things like time and attendance (including punch times), scheduling, regulation monitoring and reporting to gain well-rounded visibility into your compliance.  

3. Become friends with your data. This point is straightforward: dig into your data early on in your scheduling process. In available TEAM solutions, we recommend including criteria like parameter searches for available guards that fit within the bill rate specified per job. That way, your schedulers will only be able to assign officers to shifts whose rate fits the given budget (see our first point).

Often, we find companies can implement at least one of these tips to help prevent and improve overtime. But we also recognize that the current labor market throws a new wrench into the mix. When it’s hard to find officers to fill shifts in general, of course it becomes more likely for regular shifts to turn into overtime to stay on top of SLAs. While there’s no easy answer, it’s possible resolving this particular overtime challenge can be addressed by refocusing on retention.

Start by taking a few steps back to analyze what your voluntary separations look like. Are officers leaving for higher hourly rates or benefits? Or are they leaving for more flexibility in their schedules? Maybe they’re pivoting careers into adjacent industries or taking even bigger leaps into entirely new verticals. The common theme of all these scenarios is that it is likely not a separation on bad terms. This could be an opportunity to think outside the box in the form of a self-scheduling program. This way, employees stay in your employee management system (as part-time or ad hoc employees) and can pick up shifts based on when they want to work (even if they are employed elsewhere). While it may not work for everyone, it is an interesting tactic to reduce overtime needs while increasing employee retention.

It’s hard to theorize if there will ever be a world without overtime in some capacity. But, there are steps you can take to improve this metric now. See how at teamsoftware.com

Gail has spent over 35 years in the private sector as a senior level finance and operations manager across multiple industry. Most recently CFO of a regional security company in San Jose, CA, Gail now works providing invaluable insight and expertise as a business consultant with TEAM Software.  Her hobbies include breeding and showing standard wirehair dachshunds, hiking and spending time with her family.

3 STEPS TO COST-EFFECTIVELY STREAMLINE YOUR SECURITY GUARD MANAGEMENT PROCESS

Tony Unfried, CSA360

Are you looking to improve your security guard management processes? Adding a security management software system is key. With all the options out there, finding a budget-friendly system that effectively manages your team can feel like a daunting task. But there is an option that can easily meet both goals. A customizable security guard software system is a game changer for security teams of all sizes. 

The benefits of implementing a customizable security guard management system are vast. But most importantly, it puts the control in your hands. A customizable system means: 

You can pick and choose which modules you need most. Many security guard management systems require you to buy every tool and feature, which significantly drives up costs. But a customizable system means you can choose which tools, features, and modules are best for your team.

A custom system is budget-friendly. A customizable security software system means you only pay for the modules you want. This makes it much simpler to stay within your budget. 

You can plan for future growth. A customizable system allows your team to grow with the software. The modules you decide are unnecessary today may change in the future. Simply add more modules and tools as your needs change. 

Ready to see how security guard management software can modernize your security management processes? 

Here are 3 Steps to Cost-Effectively Streamline Your Security Management System

Step 1. Decide Which Software Features Are Most Important for Your Security Team

Your security guards need modern, innovative, and user-friendly tools available to help them do their best work. A security software system is the ideal way to do this. Not only does security software reduce challenges for security teams, but the modules and features also improve processes at an affordable cost. 

Some security guard management software features and tools to consider include: 

  • Cloud access. Cloud access eliminates location hassles for your security team. This software feature allows you to log into the software anywhere, from any device. 
  • Technical support. Technical support means a highly-trained technical support person is only a phone call, email, or web ticket away. 
  • Customizable modules. This is a huge perk for cost-conscious security teams. Customizable modules allow you to only pay for the modules, workflows, and documentations tools you want.

Step 2. Customize Your Security Software Solution

Customizing your security guard management system gives you total control over everything in your software, from workforce management to incident reporting. And remember, you can further customize your software to fit your needs as your security team continues to grow. 

Some security software modules to consider include: 

  • Live dashboards and widgets. Interactive live dashboards deliver the real-time information you need, including incident locations and issues, news and weather, guard tour and facility maps, and more. All can be customized and organized for your unique team. 
  • Automatic connection to dispatch. Forget scrambling for a phone or a radio during a security breach. An automatic connection to dispatch gets backup to your guards quickly. 
  • Customizable incident reports. Toss those antiquated reporting templates. Customizable summary and incident reporting streamlines reporting processes and resolves issues quickly. 
  • Guard tour management. GPS locations and mobile QR technology make tracking and monitoring guard tours easy, even with a smaller security guard team. 
  • Txt Commander. Utilizing a unique phone number, this security software module allows clients, guests and staff to text questions and concerns to your security team. 
  • Automated visitor management. With smart check-in capabilities, pre-registration tools, electronic notifications, and facial recognition tools, automated visitor management is a must-have for security teams.  
  • Workforce management with HR commander. Say goodbye to the old way of scheduling. Security guard scheduling software gives managers a clear view of the upcoming schedule, requested PTO, potential overtime, and any staffing gaps. 
  • Digitized forms. This security guard software feature allows you to take standard business forms and digitize them, streamlining filing and communication all in one tool.  

Step 3. Choose the Right Security Software Partner 

There are many different security software options out there. But careful research is needed before making a final decision. The bottom line is that you need a security software partner that can provide an innovative security solution that fits your team and budget. A customized software solution is by far the most affordable option. Choosing what modules and tools you need puts you in control of your team and budget.

 

Tony Unfried, CEO of CSA360, holds a master’s degree in Public Affairs and Criminal Justice from Indiana University, where he graduated with honors. While enrolled in his master’s program, Tony worked for The TJX Companies, Inc., leading the region in loss prevention and moving the company toward technology use in Security. Tony went on to join the most significant security company in Indiana, managing more than 500 employees and 50 sites, including the Indiana Convention Center, Bankers Life Fieldhouse, and Ruoff Home Mortgage Music Center. Seeing a noticeable gap in technology use in the physical security sector, Tony created his first security software application, launched at the Super Bowl in 2012, and recognized twice for Excellence in Mobile Technology by Techpoint. Tony has also spoken on Tech in Physical Security on panels with ASIS and IAVM.

5 BENEFITS OF UTILIZING SECURITY OPERATIONS MANAGEMENT SOFTWARE

Tony Unfried, CSA360

As the physical security industry continues to evolve, so too has the software being utilized by security companies and their teams. The need for high performance, cost-effective, unified software solutions that help ensure a safe and secure environment has grown dramatically over the last decade.

Benefits of Utilizing Security Operations Management Software for Your Security Company

Regardless of the size or type of security team you manage, implementing security operations management software can alleviate many of the challenges you face today. This will allow you to enhance security risk management and add to the integrity of the overall security plan for your clients.

Let’s take a look at some of the top benefits of utilizing security operations management software to improve your processes and procedures.

  1. Manage Risks Associated with Staffing Gaps

Experiencing staffing gaps is a major challenge in the security industry today, with security companies struggling to achieve optimal staffing. By implementing security management software, you will have the tools needed to address these staffing gaps and manage the guards you have more efficiently.

We know that you are focused on hiring, but your client’s risks don’t stop while you are recruiting new guards. The right software will have features and modules that enhance processes like scheduling and remote monitoring, allowing you to continue managing these risks with a smaller staff.

  1. Increasing Workforce Accountability

Increasing workforce accountability can add a range of benefits to your security company. Having a system that makes tracking accountability seamless is crucial in achieving this accountability.

Software that has digital reporting capabilities will allow your guards to submit accurate and complete documentation and allow you to determine who is producing inaccurate reports. With quick access to documentation, like incident reports and daily activity reports, you will decrease the time it takes to address issues with your guards. Having this level of accountability will enhance the effectiveness of your security team and increase client satisfaction.

  1. Mitigate Risk and Legal Liability with Proactive Security Procedures

Mitigating risk and legal liability is best served by implementing proactive security procedures. These procedures allow you to detect risks before they happen and reduce the impact they have on your clients. You don’t need your staff waiting on an alarm to tell them there is trouble, when they could eliminate it from the start.

The key to this proactive approach is knowledge through data —and the more pieces of data gathered, the greater the likelihood of recognizing vulnerabilities and enhancing your proactive security services. Providing that robust data is a key feature of any good security operations management system.

  1. Simplify Guard Tour Management

Effective security operations management software will feature a guard tour system to help you organize, log and execute guard tours. This feature allows you to simplify your touring processes and make tracking accountability seamless – ensuring that guard tours are completed effectively and efficiently, within the pre-defined time intervals.

The days of scattershot paper reports are gone. An effective guard tour system files a tour report with a simple tap of a smartphone or other mobile device, sending the information straight to your command center. Whether you’re establishing a new guard tour plan or updating an existing one, having this accurate information quickly is invaluable to your team.

A bonus benefit for your security company is that software allows your guards to be freed from tedious data entry. This gives them more time to focus on the more significant aspects of their role

  1. Provide Comprehensive Data Analytics and Reporting

Analytics play such a crucial role in an effective security management system. Having a solid data infrastructure in place helps your company increase awareness, enhance communication, provide accurate documentation, and make data-driven proactive decisions.

Security software that features an incident management solution provides all of the above. The analytics provided present a clear understanding of the ways in which you can improve your operation by having instant access to all incident report data. This real time incident report data leads to better solutions and faster response. When looking for your software solution, be sure to choose a system that can cover all of your needs.

Tony Unfried, CEO of CSA360, holds a master’s degree in Public Affairs and Criminal Justice from Indiana University, where he graduated with honors. While enrolled in his master’s program, Tony worked for The TJX Companies, Inc., leading the region in loss prevention and moving the company toward technology use in Security. Tony went on to join the most significant security company in Indiana, managing more than 500 employees and 50 sites, including the Indiana Convention Center, Bankers Life Fieldhouse, and Ruoff Home Mortgage Music Center. Seeing a noticeable gap in technology use in the physical security sector, Tony created his first security software application, launched at the Super Bowl in 2012, and recognized twice for Excellence in Mobile Technology by Techpoint. Tony has also spoken on Tech in Physical Security on panels with ASIS and IAVM.

USING SMART SCHEDULING IN YOUR JOB COSTING STRATEGY

Gail Tutt, TEAM Software Business Consultant, Network Partner

Moving into the new year, it’s important to look at how you can strengthen your profit margins. Especially when other market factors (like ongoing labor and supply shortages) are carrying over into 2022. One tactic you can consider? Use scheduling, particularly smart scheduling, as a part of your job costing toolkit.

What’s smart scheduling?

In short, smart scheduling is a system that does the heavy lifting for you when it comes to your officer schedules. This means factoring in your contract needs against your available officers, so you can make data-backed decisions when posting officers to jobs based on criteria like qualifications or pay rate. 

One simple way to keep jobs profitable is to deploy smart scheduling early in the process. When scheduling, include a parameter search for available guards that fit within a job’s contract bill rate. That way, you know officers on shift are within the scope of what’s budgeted per job. (If you skip this step, wage creep could get ahead of you, and it can show in your expenses.) 

If this isn’t something you’re used to doing, start by using smart scheduling reports in your enterprise workforce management solution to examine your labor margin direct labor (DL) percentages. If you know a particular job should be performing at a DL of 60%, you can compare it against your actual percentages to see if a job’s material costs are performing higher or lower than budgeted. If it is higher, drill down into the report to identify the problem. Chances are, if there’s a problem with one job going over DL, it’s a problem across your business. Is a manager scheduling officers without factoring in pay scale? Are you scheduling officers for a shift when a different job is needing their certifications? Is wage creep pushing you over budget? 

If your job’s DL is lower than benchmarks, you can still dig into the data and see what processes you can repeat on other jobs. From there, it’s only a matter of adjusting and measuring outcomes. 

At TEAM, we recommend reviewing your DL percentages with regularity. Assuming schedules are updated daily, a good rule of thumb is to review at least weekly. That way, you can catch budget deviation before it comes a larger issue. 

Flexible scheduling to support smart scheduling. 

While software solutions can help automate your scheduling needs with smart scheduling, they improve scheduling in other ways, too.

Think of scheduling as a larger job costing strategy. Self-scheduling through a feature like a mobile job board can improve employee engagement. In turn, this can improve retention and even reduce high-cost activities like overtime.


Where smart scheduling helps identify officers who are the right fit for a given shift, self-scheduling helps empower officers to offer their shifts to others without needing to involve a scheduler or supervisor. Others can then pick up the open extra work, keeping shifts filled without needing to go back-and-forth with a manager.

Don’t forget to factor in compliance. If your scheduling solution allows it (and believe me, it should) configure criteria on your self-scheduling job board so only qualified employees can fill certain shifts. This helps support job costing by keeping direct labor expenses reasonable per job. 

Scheduling for profits — and retention.

Here’s a crazy idea: instead of filling gaps, consider creating them. I know — crazy — but hear me out.

Expand your current, labor-intensive scheduling processes to include self-scheduling. This reduces some of the manual work demands of your managerial staff and engages your officers to have a say in their own schedules.

I’ve heard of some security companies piloting scheduling programs that strategically leave a small percentage of the global work schedule unfilled. By hiring a portion of your workforce in a self-scheduling-only capacity, you can have a subset of officers set their own schedules by filling open shifts. This approaches the smart scheduling, and retention, strategy from a whole new angle.

For example, let’s examine an officer who’s decided to leave your company. They could be leaving to work a different job, but still be hoping to make some extra cash on the side. In the pilot program described above, that officer could choose to stay an active employee within the self-scheduling program, picking and choosing shifts that fit around their new work schedule.

Pros:

  • Your company doesn’t lose out on any investment you’ve put into their hiring.
  • The officer has a flexible avenue to earn extra money by choosing jobs from your available contracts.
  • If the officer ever chooses to return to working for you full-time, their employee records are still on file. This streamlines your rehire process and cuts out added hiring expenses.

 

Gail has spent over 35 years in the private sector as a senior level finance and operations manager across multiple industry. Most recently CFO of a regional security company in San Jose, CA, Gail now works providing invaluable insight and expertise as a business consultant with TEAM Software.  Her hobbies include breeding and showing standard wirehair dachshunds, hiking and spending time with her family.