There are two elements for small businesses’ security: firstly, information technology (IT) security, and secondly, physical security. Securing IT infrastructure in Pakistan is quite easy.
Off-the-shelf systems and even capable vendors are readily available. However, what’s important to understand is how your online presence impacts your physical security.
Systems and software are only as good as the physical audit of the inventory which should be conducted regularly. This reduces the chances of pilferage.
Smart tips to ensure that your business is safe and secure
Knowing who works for you
It’s essential to make sure the people you hire are trustworthy — so background checks are very important. The process starts even before you even hire someone. However, if you’ve already hired your workers, then it’s still not too late to run a background check on them. References are important. Call them and do not assume that they will only speak well about the individual. Conduct online research on the information provided by your employees or potential employees (name, email, phone and the last job). Make sure to go beyond the first page of listings in the browser.
Always ask for original identity documents and driving licenses for verification of the address provided to you. There are online apps available to quickly verify the validity of such documents. While the above is helpful to have, professional services are also available for detailed background checks.
The plan to physically secure the workplace depends on the size of your inventory, whether your business handles a lot of cash, if there is an excessive movement of customers and employees, and the area you’re operating from (high crime area or not).
A key element of a security plan is placing guards around the workplace. How many guards should be hired and where they should be placed depends on the factors discussed above.
Windows should be physically secured. However, at least one should be designed to serve as an emergency exit if needed. If physical reinforcement is not possible then the windows should be electronically wired with an alarm. It may also be feasible to reinforce the part of the facility where valuables are housed.
Round-the-clock video surveillance can ward off any potential robbers. In addition, in case of an incident, video evidence can help in identifying the cause or culprit(s), and can make it easier to claim insurance. However, it is important to understand what your insurance coverage is protecting you against and you must ensure that you meet the conditions to qualify for it. For instance, certain security measures are mandated by insurers in case of inventory storage.
Make sure that you can track whoever is managing the locks at your workplace. Keypad digital locks work well whereas manual locks must be managed by someone who can be held accountable and is knowledgeable enough to report any missing keys or unusual activity.
If cash is involved, have a safe installed. Deposit the bulk of the funds in a bank daily. Set a cut-off time for your team to ensure that the funds are deposited. Remember to discuss with your insurer what sums they will insure and what documentary proof is needed to support the claim. Choose a bank closest to your location and also consider online transactions to transfer large amounts. It is important to ensure that your employees travel the minimum distance possible to the bank with the cash. Make sure a pattern (time and route) for depositing funds is not set by staff.
If cash on delivery is your means of sale, have the employees deposit the cash at the nearest bank branch as soon as a certain threshold is reached. All employees handling cash should be taught how to check the authenticity of a currency note. The State Bank has developed mobile apps and information on currency notes’ security features is also available on their website.
The measures suggested above are by no means the only elements of a security plan. They do, however, enable you to set up a good base.
Norbert Almeida is a security advisor
Published in Dawn, Sunday Magazine, October 16th, 2016