Monitoring. In addition, G4S is the point of contact when we need to arrange anything from close protection assignments to investigative support in complex, cross-geographic investigations. These arrangements are made on an as-needed basis. For all of these services, I have a real-time “dashboard” view of my functional costs, and we maintain a change order process flow to ensure that we are able to show why we are above or below budget at any given point in time.
One reason the partnership with G4S has worked so well is that they truly are our strategic partners, rather than just another company we are contracting with for security. Ron Oberem, director of international accounts for G4S, is my lead contact. I also have an internal manager assigned to each of our three geographic regions of the world, and they have counterparts in the G4S organization who participate in our functional meetings, held monthly, and in developing investigative strategies.
These G4S personnel suggest tactical and investigative strategies, and they share goals with Agilent. G4S has also been able to make technology recommendations that have helped to keep costs down for Agilent. For example, we have made improvements in our usage of existing systems, including consolidation of our security operations centers in the United States; we have also increased remote monitoring capabilities, and used our technology to focus our manned patrols on higher-risk areas.
Oberem says the partnership has been successful in part because Agilent regards the G4S team as the security experts. “Agilent has kind of handed us the keys to their facilities. So we take the ownership [in] how we provide the security to Agilent, and that translates down to all the security personnel at G4S. So there is a sense of ownership at all levels within this account,” he says.
The most challenging part of the process was the change in management, going from using companies near Agilent locations to just one supplier. It was also important to shift reliance from internal resources to G4S resources.
For example, historically Agilent HR would work with an in-house security manager to resolve HR issues that had a security-related element. As we’ve transitioned into a strategic supplier model, we’ve had to help functions such as HR understand that they may not have an internal security resource at the table. Instead, this resource could very well be an external provider who would be working on the security department’s behalf. The same sort of issues applied with our travel partners, legal, internal audit, and so forth. That’s a challenge that any security department must anticipate if it is going to make this type of change.
Another challenge in bringing in a supplier for key positions is that it can create a situation where we may be tempted to exercise more control than we should. It’s important to stay focused on measuring the outcomes, not the methods. That is why performance measures are so important.
Key performance indicators (KPIs) and quarterly business reviews (QBRs) are increasingly used to assess suppliers’ administrative and tactical effectiveness, and we value these tools at Agilent. In fact, when we were finalizing our contract terms, we included KPI’s as part of the agreement and tied compensation to their achievement.
For example, we stipulated that some functions, such as response to an emergency, were key performance indicators, and we included a “fee-at-risk” clause whereby negative performance in any of these categories would trigger a potential “rebate” from the supplier. Likewise, we agreed that the supplier should benefit from any cost-saving measure that it initiated and that was ultimately implemented by Agilent.
We do both monthly and quarterly business reviews. Our monthly KPI reviews provide a worldwide roll-up view of the supplier’s global performance, and the QBRs provide the same on a quarterly basis. For the QBRs, we have senior vice president-level participation on both sides. While we are reviewing past performance, our focus is always forward-looking, with the emphasis on continuous improvement.
The model has worked better than we had hoped. Now, with only one call, I have responsive experts in the security field available to me at any location in the world where Agilent operates. I have a provider that partners with our internal IT folks and watches over the health and functionality of our worldwide security systems. I have professional staff in our security operations centers and at many of our lobbies. I have a partner whose performance is measured against the same metrics that I am measured against. I have a model that provides the right balance of risk in protecting a global company while adhering to forecast costs.
Moreover, we achieved a 10 percent reduction in worldwide costs for security services within the first 90 days of making the switch. Overall, the return in both dollars and quality of service has more than compensated for the challenges entailed in making the change.
Barry Gentry, CPP, is the global security manager and chief privacy officer at Agilent Technologies where he oversees various corporate security programs, including contracted guarding services, world- wide security systems deployment, travel security, and investigative functions. He is also a former assistant regional vice president for ASIS, Region 4. Prior to his career at Agilent, he worked as an information technology manager, and he spent 10 years in the criminal justice field.