Justifying a Life-Safety and Security Budget
The current economic conditions worldwide are full of disturbances – the pandemic, war, and other factors have led to supply chain disruptions, a labor shortage, and high rates of inflation, to name a few issues.
Amid all these conditions, budget cuts might become more imminent as organizations try to tighten their belt and cut corners to improve the bottom line or simply keep the business afloat.
How would we, as security professionals, justify the life and safety budget? Executive management is often focused on numbers and bottom-line results – they may not always recognize how the security department can bring value to the business as a whole as they try to contain expenses and drive revenue.
As such, gaining their “buy-in” for budget approvals may involve difficult conversations in order to get the funds needed to keep the organization safe and secure. Even if you have an approved budget for this year and the following years, it does not necessarily mean that you will get all of the budgeted money when it comes time for it to be released.
Here are a few points that will help you prepare for productive conversations to establish and maintain your life-safety and security budget.
1. Articulate your security strategy and how it solves real business problems.
If you can articulate what the strategy is and why this is the approach you are taking, it’s easier to highlight what needs to be done next and explain the investments you are looking to make.
- Try to put security into language that’s compelling and credible enough so that the people making decisions can acknowledge that there are threats and the risks are real.
Translating your strategy into something tangible for leadership can illustrate the specific threats in a way that ensures they understand the value security provides.
For example, for a distribution company, having a video surveillance system means being able to visually verify that the right parts went out to the correct customer. This has the potential to result in savings from false claims of missing items. It is far less expensive to review digital video than to ship the same product twice or harm customer loyalty.
- Use metrics to justify funding.
Senior management is also more likely to respond to facts and figures – something concrete to base their decisions on. Try to leverage metrics and show where the potential savings are to show how the security strategies can enable business success.
2. Show the importance of having and following a security master plan.
Having a master plan allows you to build a security system with clearly defined objectives that are aligned with the organization’s overall business goals. Upgrades, maintenance, and further developments are often already planned out over budget cycles to ensure feasibility.
Cutting the budget or reallocating it to projects that “put out fires” may lead to a patchwork of security systems that significantly vary in quality and capabilities. Some programs that are ongoing might be dropped when the budget is cut or new fires arise, leaving incomplete and ineffective security measures in place.
3. Optimize costs and prioritize spending.
Certain sacrifices, or cost optimizations, have to be made in times of economic uncertainty. Security plans must stay adaptable, with different budget scenarios in mind ranging from the best case – where the budget won’t be cut regardless of the current economic environment, to the worst case – where drastic actions must be taken to ensure business survival.
- Prioritize spending by understanding the risk landscape.
In order to better align the available budget to outcomes, it’s important to assess and discover areas of disproportionate risk. Starting with a risk assessment enables you to prioritize spending and quickly introduce risk reduction programs to where they are most needed.
- Find areas where concessions can be made without sacrificing quality.
Find opportunities to reduce or eliminate baseline costs. This could be anything from outsourcing operational capabilities to a third party to automating tasks and manual processes to reduce staffing needs.
Providing rationale for the life-safety and security budget often has more to do with a lack of knowing the real issues and how to solve them than it does with the dollars being spent. If organizations truly understand what is at stake, there is often more budget available to solve real issues than would otherwise be reluctantly spent.
Our job as security leaders is to use our extensive knowledge to solve the challenges of protecting our facilities and personnel and also provide a potential return on the investment that we are asking to be made.
If you need assistance with this or would like to discuss possibilities or problems, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org for a consultation with a member of our executive team. You can also contact us at email@example.com or 1-800-705-1857 for any feedback, questions, or service needs.