Seven Observations of Security Consultation from the Perspective of the Facility Department

Because the facilities department has such an intimate understanding of how buildings work they tend to be seen as a natural partner with security. But it can be a tightrope walk for the facility personnel. See how to avoid potential issues.

Because the facilities department has such an intimate understanding of how buildings work they tend to be seen as a natural partner with security.  From the perspective of SFM, this can be a tightrope act for facilities personnel. Our managers have a natural instinct to protect the buildings and grounds but are simply not security experts.  One typical measure taken by SFM customers is to hire a security consulting firm. Since SFM has worked closely with so many consultants I wanted to make the most of this opportunity and share some insight we have gained on security consulting through the lens of facility management.

  • Understanding the industry-  Reputable consulting firms appear to recognize and acknowledge that for the most part, they work in an unregulated industry.  Successful consultants respond by increasing transparency.  This includes communicating openly about their background, what products they deliver, and relationship with previous customers.
  • Start with a risk assessment-  For building owners the concept of risk is broad.  We tend to think of risk it terms security such as protection from an active shooter.  But, there is a much greater chance that a pipe will freeze and cause thousands of dollars of damage.  Make sure the consultant you hire is able to assess and plan for all possible risk factors.
  • Lots of choices- There appear to be a lot of consultant agencies trying to capture an ever-expanding market.  After tragedies like Sandy Hook, there was a high demand for individuals to develop risk assessments. It brought a lot of consultants to the industry who may be very familiar with law enforcement and security measures, but not necessarily risk assessment.
  • Get what you need-  As one consultant I spoke to noted, conducting a risk assessment is a very sophisticated and complicated process.  Do not simply hire a security guard and expect a security model will evolve.  A security guard will not likely have the experience and expertise to create a sophisticated security plan.
  • Making a final decision-  An effective method for starting a consulting search is to form an internal security committee.  It only makes sense to first utilize the knowledge and expertise of your constituents first.  Even with a supportive work group, this tends to be an exhaustive process.  
  • Culture is key- In one example, members of a church security committee decided on using a consultant with more militaristic approach.  At the same time, they recognized the rest of the congregation might not agree that all security measures. The security team worked closely with the consultant to focus on educating the congregation and used a slow rollout of more advanced security measures.  They found it was important to maintain communication with the congregation regarding security efforts. They noted an effort to invite new church members to participate in the committee. As one security consultant simply stated, “the security committee could not be viewed as the church gun club.”
  • Post-assessment- The consulting process will not have the desired long-term effect if the relationship ends with a final report.  Most comprehensive consulting firms will be able to offer some level of training and professional development. In fact, one of our customers is very complimentary of their consultant who is always available via phone and email.  The consultant come to campus every other year review the risk assessment and complete a walkthrough.

Six questions to ask a potential security consultant-

  1. Ask if they have experience with private schools or churches?  There are enough security related consultants that working with a specialist can be expected.  They should also have referenced and security models prepared to meet your individual needs.
  2. Where did you get your training?  We have learned that the best training source of risk assessment tools are high-level government agencies such as the Department of Defense or Department of Energy.
  3. Do they seem to have a complete understanding of the full scope of risk they are trying to assess?  There are many types of risk, the should be able to explain and assess them all.
  4. How long have they been in business?  What is their organizational chart? In our region, there was a large increase in security firms with varied backgrounds in security.  Make sure the firm you are considering has the experience and know-how you require.
  5. Ask them what they are planning to include in their security assessment.  Will the consultation only address risks like active shooters or will they also look at risks that may impact facilities such as an aging mechanical system.  
  6. Determine their contact with you after the assessment is completed.  Do they conduct training courses? Are they available for follow up conversations?

To learn more about the SFM facility management at maintenance model please visit our website,  

About SFM

Since 1998, the mission of SFM is to be the preeminent model of facility management and maintenance for schools, churches, and other non-profits. The SFM model sets us apart from other facility management companies. SFM has developed a unique and systematic approach to managing in-house and outsource services.

The strength of SFM is formed from the diversity of skills, collective knowledge, and the shared network of our facility management team. All members of our team are constantly striving to meet the unique needs of our customers. This blog offers an opportunity to share some of the collective conversations and learning experiences taking place every day at SFM.