10 Tips to Selecting the Right Security Consultant

To find the right person or organization for your project, check references, create a good request for proposal and learn whether or not they will be contracting out some of the work.

6. Should a consultant specialize in one type of campus?
If, for example, you currently manage security for a hospital, should your consultant specialize only in hospitals? Too much emphasis on specificity is reasonable but may also serve to eliminate the strongest contenders. Hospitals, high rise buildings, university campuses and K-12 schools all have unique security requirements. It is beneficial to choose consultants who have worked with and understand these requirements. 

On the other hand, consultants who also have experience outside that specific client type of institution may bring a greater breadth of ideas and experience.

Related Article: 5 Tips for Writing Effective RFPs

7. What should I know about my consultant?
There are many things you will need to know about your consultant before signing the contract, including:

  • Their reputation by talking directly to their clients
  • The types of projects they work on, particularly those with similar complexity to yours
  • The strengths of all team members who will be assigned to your project
  • That the team will be committed to your project.
  • If they have the breadth to understand your overall security needs, and where and how a specific countermeasure must fit within the overall security program
  • If they have the depth of knowledge to write detailed specifications that will avoid extra construction period charges
  • Whether or not they have the capacity to handle your project without unreasonable delays. Companies with too many existing projects can result in delays or shortcuts that result in cost overruns.
  • Whether the contractor has any direct relationship with or receives compensation from any product or service that might relate to your project

8. What should I know about outsourcing and partnerships?
Some consulting organizations rely on partnerships to complete their tasks. This can be normal and beneficial to your project. Consultants who lack the required depth of knowledge in some area of your project can reach out to another consulting organization that has the requisite skill set.

It is critical that all partnerships and outsourced work be given the same scrutiny as the primary contractor. You will need to know their reputation, t
alk to their clients and have all team members listed along with their background and expertise.

9. How can I learn about a consultant’s reputation?

There are several things that can help in selecting the right consulting firm:

  • Develop in-house security knowledge. The broader your understanding of security, security countermeasures and how they fit together, the better you will be at selecting the right consultant.
  • Talk directly to former clients. Determine how close their project is to the one you anticipate. Ask about problems with their overall performance, including unanticipated cost overruns and delays in their service delivery. Ask how satisfied they are with the final result.
  • Get detailed information on all individuals who will be assigned to your project
  • Check the Better Business Bureau for complaints regarding the consultant
  • Check the company on the Internet for potential problems or conflicts

10. How do I improve my chances in finding the right consultant?

  • Construct a well written request for proposal (RFP)
  • Take all prospective members on a job walk at least two weeks prior to the submittal due date 
  • Give them a good feel for your needs, areas of concern and project details 
  • Allow a period for them to submit questions prior to the proposal due date. The questions they ask may hint at their expertise. Share questions and answers with all potential vendors.
  • Have all competing vendors give a presentation on their approach and areas of emphasis that they would use in handling your project. Ensure that all evaluators fully understand the details of the RFP. 
  • The RFP should include mandatory disclosure of any monetary or other link between the consultant and any vendor that may be considered for the proposed work
  • Look beyond the low bid to your confidence in the organization and its ability to deliver what you need.

James L. Grayson, CPP is a senior security consultant for Summers Associates LLC, and he can be reached at jimgrayson@mindspring.com.

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Jim Grayson is a senior security consultant. His career spans more than 35 years in law enforcement and security consulting. He worked for UCLA on a workplace violence study involving hospitals, schools and small retail environments and consulted with NIOSH on a retail violence prevention study.Grayson’s diverse project experience includes schools, universities, hospitals, municipal buildings, high-rise structures and downtown revitalization projects. He holds a degree in criminal justice and a CPP security management credential from ASIS. He is a nationally recognized speaker and trainer on a wide range of security topics.He can be reached at jimgrayson@mindspring.com. Note: The views expressed by guest bloggers and contributors are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, Campus Safety magazine.

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