One of the most valuable contributions a director of security can provide to his company’s executive management is assistance in determining the appropriate “man-machine” mix for their facilities and operations. This guidance should be an essential component of the company’s budgeting process, to be integrated into its ROI calculations for investing in security programs for facilities, vessels, and their operations.

The focus of any program for the acquisition and integration of systems and equipment into a company or vessel security program should be to achieve the optimal “man-machine mix” in order to:

1. Enhance the effectiveness of the security program;
2. Increase the efficiency of security personnel across the entire spectrum of enterprise operations;
3. Reduce the enterprise’s exposure to risk of legal, financial, or possible criminal liability in the event of a security incident; and
4. Reduce and amortize the cost of recurring security operations across the life of the systems procured.

Please note that the long-term cost savings objective is the last one I have identified. Well meaning company executive are often view security systems and equipment as a means of reducing recurring operating costs for security, which are often viewed as “expenses’ rather than an investment. They are willing to commit to sizable capital expenditures to procure, install, and integrate security systems, with the expectation of achieving an immediate return on their investment through the reduction of recurring costs for security personnel.

However, in order for security systems to function effectively the security staff must, at the very least, be as smart as the machines they operate. Selection of security systems as a means of reducing the cost of security operations through the elimination of well-trained and proficient security practitioners is short-sighted.

The ROI calculations should give due consideration to the very necessary cost for providing appropriate initial and recurring training for the people responsible for the effective use and field maintenance of the selected systems. Failing to do so may actually increase the company’s exposure to risks of financial, legal, and criminal liability in the event of a security incident that is traced back to the inability of security staff to effectively operate or maintain the security system, or adjust to effectively address an evolving security situation.

In short, the optimal “man-machine mix” MUST include an appropriate balance of trained and proficient personnel to effectively operate and maintain the security systems.

– By Ronald Thomason, Vice President, Strategic Programs, MSC

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