Metrics for Success: What Story Would You Tell?

I trust everyone reading this has some sort of business plan each year that sets some stretch goals in addition to adding up the cost of the standard line items you have always included the past many years. Typically, we are given a budget target, but if you have been using your metrics effectively, you will have an opportunity to demonstrate results and advertise specific value for security’s programs.

It may appear that the security manager in the example graphic has fully appreciated the fact that metrics are bi-directional — they can counter the best laid plans. Now this security manager has to explain to the boss what is going on with these six initiatives.

There are some obvious issues at the heart of this story:


Nuisance alarms

Non-valid intrusion alarms are wasting time and reducing confidence of responders in alarm-related calls. Moreover, many of these alarms are within classified spaces and require posting of a guard until the resident arrives to confirm secure status. This is most often resident error, but identifying and eliminating invalid alarms can be a challenge.

The plan: A 20-percent reduction over these two quarters. The nuisance alarms actually increased by 9% in Q2, so the 3-percent reduction in Q3 still leaves the goal short by 14%. The explanation is that 40% of these alarms came from 3% of the spaces containing intrusion alarms. Resident attitude adjustment needs to be cranked up several notches.


Overtime and Fixed Post Reductions

The reduction in entry-based security posts will partially be met by business unit assignment of a receptionist. This company has adopted a “gatekeeper” model that emphasizes a focused security set of tasks in a concierge role. Security has succeeded in getting business units to assume some receptionist entry control duties, but the overtime budget was out of control in Q1.

The plan: Our manager has committed to a reduction in guard force overtime by 15% while reducing and/or re-deploying 30% of the fixed posts on campus. These posts have been reduced to 20%, but delays in receptionist assignments slowed that program. Q2 saw another spike in overtime due to campus construction and shareholder events and Q3 has only yielded a 3-percent repair to that 5-percent increase. These events were known and should have been factored into the plan. Additionally, a 20-percent increase for Q2/3 gatekeeper training has been planned; unfortunately, security officers provide this training and all of these shortfalls in initiatives have impacted them most severely. The good news is that business unit delays in reception assignments relieved this plan to an excusable degree.


Parking Lot Break-ins

 This campus is within a large urban area with large open employee and visitor parking lots and easy access to several major highways. Vehicle break-ins and thefts spiked in Q1 and were major concerns requiring this commitment.

The plan: A 20-percent reduction was initially met with a continued increase but as tactics were revised, lighting improved and an agreement was reached with the local police to do casual patrols, Q3 saw real progress that has continued into Q4.


Background investigations

Hiring has spiked and the number of candidates being submitted for vetting has caused delays to the 10 day cycle time SLA.

The plan: Several temps were hired in Q2 to increase output but failed to impact the backlog until the beginning of Q3. This is now on target and recent completion cycle times are meeting the SLA.

This is not a “be careful what you ask for” story — this is how our plans so often unfold. The point on metrics is to understand the why and how about the data being conveyed. There were a lot of moving parts in these initiatives that impacted our manager’s best efforts.


George Campbell is emeritus faculty of the Security Executive Council (SEC) and former CSO of Fidelity Investments. His book, Measures and Metrics in Corporate Security, may be purchased at The SEC draws on the knowledge of security practitioners, experts and strategic partners to help other security leaders initiate, enhance or innovate security programs and build leadership skills.