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Quick Guide to Business Security Systems

Business security systems help ensure employee safety, protect your company assets, and scare burglars aware after entering. The system will alert local police to dispatch authorities if the device detects unauthorized intruders and send a message to a designated owner. Systems can be fairly complex including control panels, keypads, motion detectors, window and door panels, and wires.

The first step to design the best security system for your business is to sit down with security companies and discuss the nature of your business operations. An enterprise focused on reselling high-value goods will need a greater emphasis placed on guarding against burglars; an enterprise focused on product development will need a greater emphasis placed on preventing employee theft. Naturally, there is a bunch of overlap and certain security strategies that apply to virtually any business, but the best systems tend to be the ones that are custom designed to guard against your particular business risks.

Key Elements for Basic Commercial Security Systems
As nuanced as commercial security has become, most strategies still involve employing conventional security systems. Here are the key elements that comprise most of these systems. Again, be sure to sit down with a prospective security company representative and discuss these elements before signing a contract.
  •  A Secure Power Source: You don't want a security system connected to a power source that can be easy accessed and shut down. Many power source control panels are placed in the roof or a secure server closet.
  • Limited Access to Control Pads: You want someone on the premises at all times who can readily arm or disarm the system, but you probably want to limit the number of employees with this type of access
  • Intruder Detection: From motion-activated sensors, acoustic receivers that detect breaking glass, and magnetic contacts for door and window jambs, if there's a weak link a professional burglar will find it.
  • Response System: If the system is breached, you want all proverbial hell to break loose including interior and exterior sirens, strobe lights, and a remote monitoring service to dispatch law enforcement to the scene.
Security Systems and Employee Theft/Fraud
According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, one-third of all business failures can be traced back to employee theft. U.S. businesses lose $40 billion a year to theft and fraud, and "some experts believe as much as 40 percent of the losses are internal," according to Tim Zehring, Executive Director of the International Crime Free Association. The three factors that precipitate employee theft/fraud are financial need, opportunity, and an ability to rationalize their behavior. When it comes to the different types of business security, this triangle is harder to navigate that it might seem: If you're not generating revenues to justify salary increases, little can be done to reduce financial need. And while security systems can definitely reduce opportunity, the best systems must do so without providing additional rationalizations for fraudulent behavior. Unfortunately, for many employees, it's much easier to steal from a company that is perceived as "Big Brother."
Tips for Monitoring Employees
  • Create a Limited Use Policy: Clearly inform employees that the monitoring equipment is used solely for the purposes of catching and eliminating employee fraud. You may not approve of time-wasters, such as computer games and online news sites, but when an employee feels he or she is always being watched, morale and trust are sacrificed.
  • Know Your Rights and Your Employees' Rights: So long as it's company equipment, you hold most of the cards when it comes to surveillance, but laws including the Civil Rights Act, National Labor Relations Act, Fair Labor Standards Act, Electronic Communications Privacy Act, not to mention various state laws, carve out a number of exceptions to your leverage as a business owner.
  • Designate Monitoring Authority: A security company or IT firm are the best ways to design and set up an employee monitoring system, but the monitoring itself should be done by management or human resources.
  • Pursue other Means of Theft/Fraud Control: Don't rely on employee monitoring equipment as your primary means to fight employee fraud. Improving hiring practices, work environment, education and awareness programs, and a clear and confidential whistleblower policy are all important steps to fighting employee fraud.
How to Choose a Security Company for Your Business
Choosing a security company for your business should be handled much like any other purchase: Competition is your best advantage. Speak to multiple security firms and see which firms have the best ideas and the best value with their security services. If you would like to read more about choosing a vendor, read our Business Security System Buyer Guide.