The life of a small to medium sized building (SMB) owner or manager can be both difficult and rewarding. The hours are long, the risks are high and responsibilities are often divided among a small staff. In many ways, being in charge of a SMB can resemble raising a family – concerns around security and the well-being of employees and customers mimic those of a doting parent.
Believe it or not, one of the first places to start when it comes to evaluating the right security solution for your business is understanding your company’s culture and business risks. The way you approach building security and safety can speak volumes to both employees and customers about the type of company you want to be. Are security cameras, locked doors and mandatory ID badges too stifling, making your company appear over-monitored? Will the lack of any of those security measures signal a laissez-faire attitude toward securing business assets and personnel?
To know what level of security (both physical and digital) your business needs to consider, keep the classic risk analysis formula in mind: Risk = Probability x Consequences. Assess any incidents your business has had in the past 24 months, and then estimate the value of the potential loss or consequences to your business each threat had. Once you’ve completed this assessment, look for solutions that will decrease the probability of an incident occurring, reduce the impact and severity of the incident and enhance the recovery from an incident.
Once you’ve considered your culture and risk analysis, you’re ready to start thinking about your security strategy. Here are three ways SMB owners and managers can ensure that their properties are at their utmost secure – even when the boss is out of the office.
1) Implement both physical and digital security.
With recent data breaches shining a light on information security, there’s no doubt that it should be top of mind for SMBs. Part of having happy customers is keeping their personal information, including their name, address and credit card number, safe from prying hackers. Another way to maintain happy customers? Ensure their physical safety by implementing an access control system that is catered to fit your SMB needs.
Take a regional gym, for example – the facilities can remain open 24 hours a day (even without staff on hand overnight) with the right system that allows paying customers accessibility, but keeps unauthorized personnel out. Customers who choose to take advantage of the extended hours do not have to worry about their safety and business owners can rest easy at night knowing their facilities and customers are protected. Additional peace of mind can be achieved through video surveillance systems (from closed-circuit to live streaming) that can alert the staff to any suspicious activity.
Implementing these security systems should start with buy-in across the board – from executives to customers. Without everyone on board, it can be difficult to gain adoption from everyone who should be using the system. If customers are not comfortable scanning a membership card to enter the facility or executives have hold ups about video surveillance, inevitable road bumps will jeopardize the security strategy.
Facilities that require both physical and information security tend to be those that don’t have employees constantly monitoring customers, such as the gym mentioned above or an ATM for a bank. How do you know if your business fits into this category? Ask yourself – Do I need to have staff on premise 24 hours a day? Are all valuables (including machines, products and personnel) protected if someone were to break in through the front door? If you answered “no” to either question, then chances are you fit the mold.
2) Keep your security systems up-to-date (both through software and hardware).
If a security system isn’t fully up-to-date with the latest technologies it can be considered obsolete. Security is no longer just lock and key, it’s now comprised of hardware of impenetrable strength and software that can sense who is approaching and what level of clearance they have. There is no such thing as “almost” secure – if there is any sort of vulnerability, it compromises the integrity of the entire security system.
Many recent breaches resulted because system updates like patches and iterations were brushed aside as unnecessary. For a smaller organization, the scale of a breach is much smaller than those of major corporations, but it doesn’t mean that customers’ information is any less important. When looking for security systems, make sure you’re asking the right questions about how updates are handled for both software and hardware.
For many small businesses, cost is a huge factor when it comes to making business decisions. When it comes to security, there truly can’t be any cutting corners because that’s when vulnerabilities are exposed. Businesses that invest in the proper hardware from the beginning can scale that hardware (often through software updates) as their business advances. Take a look at the five- or ten-year plan for your company and determine if a stronger security system will eventually be needed, and make the investment now in a system that can be updated as your business grows.
Just as you would nurture a child to help them grow, embrace the cloud, always have the most up-to-date software in your systems and look to invest in hardware that can be retrofitted to adjust with technology updates.
3) Ensure access control 24/7, wherever you are.
SMB owners and managers are in constant motion, whether it’s within their physical location or on the road. The latest in access control systems can now allow them to operate the systems from wherever they are through a mobile device such as a smartphone or tablet.
For example, if a delivery driver stops by and needs to be let in through the main door, new technology allows you to grant temporary access to your facility and revoke that access as soon as the delivery is complete. It’s even possible to watch in real-time as the driver drops off the package and leaves. Consider it a baby monitor for your business!
If your business requires you to travel around to various locations or franchises, this sort of access control system is imperative in ensuring each location is secure, even when you’re not there. It allows the owner to remotely shut down a location for the night and double check that the doors are locked and secure once the last employee heads home.
Evaluate potential security solutions based not only on efficacy and cost, but also on their impact to your company culture. For example, if your highest risk comes from employee theft, having constant access control (including video surveillance) would help eliminate the need to lock up all valuable assets, which forces employees to sign them out from a trusted manager and takes away valuable time. This keeps the atmosphere more relaxed and allows the monitoring of employees without having a manager on duty.
There will always be forces that push your security system to the limits, both internal and external. It’s important to assess risks to your business and the potential consequences before implementing a security system, which will allow you to evaluate the costs of potential solutions against the consequences to your bottom line and your company’s culture. To ensure your SMB has the best level of security possible, follow the three guidelines outlined above and be ready to make improvements throughout the security journey.
Lee Odess is Vice President of Marketing and Enterprise Sales, Brivo, reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.