Marginal Gains in Mobile Security Patrols: Banishing the Paper Trail
04 December 2020
MANUAL PROCESSES such as using spreadsheets to design run-sheets, passing paper run-sheets to drivers and crossing off the jobs by hand as they’re completed in the Control Room, could be costing security companies dear. Using technology to streamline these tasks can save hours each week in administration, enable firms to provide a better service to customers and keep members of staff happy. Paul Ridden explains how local and regional security businesses can make use of tech to improve many aspects of their operation.
There are countless examples in the sporting world about the power of marginal gains. Saving one or two per cent doesn’t sound much, but when you make those gains across several different areas, you’re soon into improvements of double digits and that makes a positive difference to any business.
An obvious example of this is automating run-sheets, making them easy to replicate each day and each week, and then to make changes ‘on the fly’. This alone could be saving hours each week, but the benefits are so much more than just time savings for the Control Room (although that in itself is worthwhile).
Once run-sheets are generated digitally, they can then be sent to officers in the field on a digital basis. There are now apps that can be installed on most smart phones (iOS and Android) such that, when an officer starts work, they receive their run-sheet automatically. They can also receive any assignment instructions or other special instructions at the same time.
Using an app, they can tick off jobs as they go, taking photos if required, and attach them to the log for the job. As jobs are completed, the Control Room operatives can see exactly what’s happening on the ground. The Control Room can also be alerted of any missed check-in calls, in turn helping with Duty of Care responsibilities. This makes life a lot smoother for the security officers, as well as for the Control Room team.
An example of marginal gain here would be one extra activity per day, because officers will spend less time on administration tasks or travelling to the office to collect/drop off paperwork.
Streamline alarm response
Visibility of operations on the ground in real-time enables Control Room operators to streamline alarm responses. When an alarm call comes in, the controllers can see where all of their officers are located and organise a response much more efficiently. Directions and assignment instructions can be sent to the smart phones of those officers required to attend the incident. After the alarm response has been dealt with, it’s then much easier to provide the customer with full details of all services provided.
In terms of the marginal gain aspect, officers are on site quicker and providing a more effective service for the customer. Officers can then resume their patrols and other activities.
Managing key holding and alarm response contracts more efficiently enables businesses to prove their ongoing compliance with BS 7984-3:2020. Paper-based systems can be used to track where keys are held and who has had access to them and when, but this is prone to error and takes a lot longer than using software designed for the purpose. Using the tech-based approach will realise faster and less stressful Security Industry Authority audits.
With a digital system, the Accounts Department is no longer reliant on paper time sheets that can be difficult to read, in turn leading to potential mistakes when re-keying or if they simply happen to be lost. Software provides an easily accessible and complete audit trail of what services were provided for each alarm response, ensuring that nothing’s forgotten. Businesses can invoice for all of the services provided.
It’s worth thinking about how much one invoice for an extra call-out per day would add to the bottom line.
Improve customer service
Automating systems not only saves time in many areas of the business, but also enables firms to focus on providing a better service to customers. As well as more detailed customer information, they benefit from a faster and more efficient service which in turn helps the security business to attract and retain more customers. Providing the latest technology for members of staff is also a great way in which to attract and retain the best talent.
When you add up all of the improvements to be made from harnessing technology for staff, customers and the business as a whole, there’s a very compelling case for marginal gains.
Paul Ridden is CEO of SmartTask