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Three Phases of Scaling your Physical Security Program

By Northland Controls, Jun 27, 2023

The need to scale your security program can be driven by several factors.

Most often, an expansion of corporate footprint, employee count, or business operations can require the need for a shift. But keeping your program modern and adapting to significant paradigm shifts can also be a driving force. Whatever the driving factors, physical security professionals face unique challenges when scaling their security programs in an increasingly complex and interconnected world.

Whether you are starting from scratch or adding capabilities and resources to a current program, successfully scaling your program means that no matter how big your physical footprint becomes, your team can continue safeguarding the organization's assets and personnel.

However, scaling a security program can be an overwhelming understanding. With considerations from both a policy and a technology perspective, we’ve broken down three phases to focus on when the need to scale your program arises.

Phase One: Building a Strong Foundation
One of the first steps to take when scaling your program is to identify the types of threats you are trying to protect against. While this may seem obvious, the depth and breadth of those threats will evolve as your business does. For example, adding offices in new regions or markets may bring with it a new slew of vulnerabilities you have never had to consider before – crime, weather, geo-political conflicts. Whether it is through security assessments or another type of analysis, it’s important to remain vigilant and up to date on the current threat landscape.

With a better understanding of potential threats and vulnerabilities, it’s important to get buy-in from key stakeholders to increase your chances of success. First, identify the key stakeholders who could potentially benefit and impact your decisions down the line. This should include C-Suite executives but can also include leaders in risk, safety, IT, HR, legal, and facilities.

By involving these stakeholders early on and understanding how their goals can be met through comprehensive security, you can create a more collaborative and cross-functional program that provides value above and beyond safety (like leveraging access control data to support larger business decisions). When scaling your program, whether today or in the future, having this buy in will make a big impact on your ability to reach long-term goals.

Phase Two: Planning for the Future
While these two steps will lay the groundwork for scaling your security program, you need to make sure that your foundation upon which it will be built is solid. This includes fine tuning and updating your written directives, including corporate policies, standard operating procedures, and security standards that everything else will take direction from. Whether through individual components or a comprehensive master plan, these documents should align with existing corporate policies and incorporate best practices, relevant restrictions, and requirements to promote understanding and compliance among key stakeholders. With system standards, for example, adding new buildings to your existing infrastructure becomes much more streamlined, supporting a unified approach to security no matter where in the world it may reside.

One critical component to this foundation is the physical security systems that will propel your program forward. Including access contro, video management, visitor management, intrusion detection, and key management systems, identifying the right fit for your current and future needs will avoid headaches and frustration as you begin to scale your program.

Access control systems, for example, should be carefully chosen, considering factors such as badge versus mobile credential usage and real-time monitoring capabilities. Cameras should be selected based on specific needs, whether fixed, environmental, or PTZ cameras, and their integration with other security systems should be considered. Visitor management systems should facilitate efficient screening and tracking of visitors, while intrusion detection and electronic key control systems can provide additional layers of security for critical areas. All of these decisions will matter as you continue to grow and scale your program.

By prioritizing a unified and scalable approach to your security technology, programs are better situated for future success. Evaluate your one, five, and ten-year plans to see if your current technology will still be relevant. This may include system capabilities, ability to integrate into other systems, pricing, system architecture, available dashboards to track metrics, and configurations. If you find that your current systems aren’t suitable for long-term scalability, it’s better to replace or augment them before scaling your program, as it will save you time, money, and resources down the line.

Phase Three: Implementation and Resourcing
As you begin thinking about where to take your security program, the question of available resources will no doubt creep into the conversation. For some, you may be adding global offices while others may be adding new technology such as AI or analytics to augment data. Wherever your program takes you, being able to monitor, manage, and maintain your systems is imperative to long-term success. For companies with the available internal resources, that may necessitate a 24/7 security operations center for around-the-clock monitoring of your systems or the hiring of internal experts to oversee key system support.

However, not all organizations are able to meet that demand head on. Growing your program requires advocating for people, budget, and resources – but they may not all be available at once. For those who may need additional support when growing, an outsourced model may be a good option. Gaining access to a levy of resources without having to invest in internal personnel, training, and infrastructure allows teams to continue focusing on the growth of the program without dealing with the day-to-day concerns of alarm monitoring, risk assessments, system upgrades, or preventative maintenance.

Regardless of if you are supporting these new initiatives in house or through an outsourced model, finding a partner to support you throughout this important stage of your program is vital. Whether it be security audits, installation of new technology, system maintenance, or guidance on “what’s next,” selecting the right integrator and technology partner will better support your long-term goals and overall success.

At the end of the day, scaling your program can be a complex, yet rewarding, opportunity. By taking these key considerations into account, physical security professionals can build scalable security programs that effectively protect the organization's assets and personnel. It is important to regularly review and update these security measures as the organization continues to grow and evolve. But, by having a proactive approach to physical security and a comprehensive understanding of systems, technology, and policy, you can create a safe and secure environment for your company.

For companies in a period of rapid growth and scalability, Northland’s team of security experts is here to help. Contact us by emailing