The security manager of any business is one of the most important positions within the organization. They are usually a member of the executive management team with the primary duty of overseeing the security operations for their organization. The actual responsibilities will differ based on the type of business or organization they are in, and whether or not it is a private or government operation. Whatever the organization type, one of the key functions of the security manager is assessing the risks and vulnerabilities of the organization and creating plans to mitigate them. They are charged with creating a culture of safety and security and ensuring that the company’s exposure to liabilities is as little as possible. The plans that they create will generate policies and procedures that the security manager will formulate, implement, and monitor.
Although, their duties differ from organization to organization, the security manager’s responsibilities are essential to the daily operational success of the company. The differences between government security operations and security operations for private businesses have become harder to determine in recent years. This is due in part because government operations have, at times, contracted out some security functions to private firms. Although there are similarities between the two, differences still exist. Private security operations are funded through company profits, making it necessary for the security operation to add value to the company. Government security operations are tax supported, and they also must add value to the overall operation, but are not as concerned about the bottom line as private security. There are differences in the focus of public and private entities as well. Public administrations focus on public affairs and don’t have any competition. Private security is focused on accountability to private obligations and being competitive with others in their field.
There are distinct differences in the way government agencies and private firms hire personnel. Private companies have wider latitude and more freedom when hiring than government agencies do. Government agencies are bound by civil service rules and often have to work with unions when hiring. In the past, security managers were mainly concerned with loss prevention and physical plant security features for their company. While they still have to worry about those traditional responsibilities, in today’s environment their roles have expanded to include more functions than ever before. Over the past several years, security managers have seen their primary responsibilities expand to include; information security, overall personnel security, physical security, and having knowledge of applicable laws, health and safety regulations, fire prevention regulations and practices, business continuity planning, crisis and disaster management.
They are still responsible for the key functions of conducting security surveys and risk assessments. According to Ortmeier (2013) a security manager is expected to take on the role of an administrator, and a manager, as well as responsibilities in prevention and investigations. In the role of an administrator for their organization, the security manager will work with others from the management team to achieve the organizations vision for their security plan. They will decide the overall operational structure of the security program based on the approved risk management plan, and will also help to determine the mission, goals, and objectives, as they relate to safety and security. The organizational structure of the security department, and the complexity of the structure itself depends on the nature of the business and the size and complexity of the overall organization. A small organization may only necessitate a simple structure that doesn’t include many layers of management.
However, a large and complex organization will likely need a more complex management structure with several layers. Establishing a well-defined organization structure is necessary so that employees and managers understand their duties, responsibilities, and span of control. It will establish the communication structure and common terminology for the company, and ensure that those who are in positions of responsibility have the authority that goes with the position. Employees will know what organizational group they belong to, who supervises whom, and who is accountable for specific tasks. The organizational structure will also help the security manager decide if security services should be contracted out to private security firms, if in-house personnel will be used, or a combination both. When the organizational structure has been defined, and the security mitigations identified, security managers will determine how the mitigations are deployed, who will monitor them, and continuously evaluate their implementation and use. Security managers are responsible for the continuous management of the security infrastructure of their organization.
They are responsible for the detailed configuration and deployment of the plan and are often included in procuring and maintaining necessary equipment and supplies. They are responsible for the assessment and evaluation of security staff, and the maintenance of effective security operations for the organization. Their role of continuously evaluating and assessing the plan is vital to the overall operation of the organization because without it, risks and vulnerabilities would likely go unidentified, and the organization would suffer unnecessary losses. In the role of a manager, “The security manager is responsible for selecting, training, scheduling, supervising, and evaluating security personnel” (Ortmeier, 2013, pg. 19). The security manager works closely with the human resources department of their organization when planning to staff their department. Determining the personnel needs of the department is based on the risk assessment, security survey, and risk management plan.
Selecting staff is a vital function of the security manager because they will determine the number of personnel who are needed as well as the baseline knowledge that they should possess upon initial hiring. Workforce planning is difficult and time consuming, and it must be completed within the budgetary constraints of the security department. It is helpful to know what staff duties and responsibilities will be prior to beginning the hiring process. In addition, if the organization is a government agency, the hiring process must comply with the civil service rules. The security manager of an organization is regarded as the ‘primary prevention officer’ for their organization (Ortmeier, 2013, pg. 19). They have the key and vital responsibility for identifying and recognizing the risks and vulnerabilities of the organization, and developing mitigation to reduce or eliminate the risks.
When losses do occur, the security manager is responsible for investigating the cause of the loss and determining appropriate countermeasures for the newly identified risk. Security managers are in the business of asset protection whether the assets are personnel, physical structures or information; it is the security manager’s role to prevent the loss of any of the organizations assets. In private business, losses will affect the economic viability of the company and can lead to business failure. The security manager leads the organization in developing effective strategies for the development of a safe and secure work environment. They are responsible for the safety and security training for security personnel, as well as the security education of all staff of the organization.
Whatever the defined role and responsibilities of the security manager are for an organization, there are characteristics that are universal amongst all managers that they should possess. “These include planning, implementation, ethical leadership, and evaluation” (Ortmeier, 2013, pg. 182). They add value to the organization through ethical leadership, as well as risk management, protection of organization assets, providing safety and security training for the entire organization, the evaluation of personnel performances, and the risk management plan. Although, their duties differ from organization to organization, the security manager fills a vital role and executes key functions for the successful daily operation of their organization.
Ortmeier, P. J. (2013). Introduction to security: Operations and management (4th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Prentice Hall..
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