Is Security a Cost, Or an Investment?
Put on your green eye shade, sharpen your pencils, and crack open that old textbook from Accounting 101. You remember the terms. Debits and credits, balance sheets, accounts receivable, profit and loss statements. For some businesses, careful accounting means a nice shoebox full of receipts, but most of us do our best to itemize and record transactions according to generally accepted accounting principles.
So where does security fit on the general ledger? We must freely acknowledge that in order to keep those bookkeepers happy, security is a cost center, plain and simple. But necessary and valuable though they may be, security gadgets, gates and guards don’t produce revenue and security doesn’t have an expected return on investment.
Or does it?
Business assets come in both current and fixed varieties. Current assets are those that will be converted to cash within one year, such as inventory. Fixed assets are long-term and will likely provide benefits to a company for more than one year, such as a real estate or machinery. A business relationship with MAGNAR is a fixed asset that can provide long term and recurring benefits.
Where do those long term benefits come from? We know that the FortifID reader is a rugged, portable, and easy to use TWIC reader that automates the tedious and error prone access control process. Security guards can concentrate on the behavior of the person presenting the TWIC, and on their surroundings, while allowing the FortifID reader to authenticate and validate the TWIC. That certainly has benefits, but in what way might we consider a business relationship with MAGNAR as an investment or long-term asset?
Let’s back up.
MAGNAR provides customized hardware and software security solutions for the maritime industry. There are a multitude of electronics companies, many of which include the marine industry in their profile. But MAGNAR is unique as a company that has earned the respect of Facility Security Officers and their colleges across the country. Everyone at MAGNAR is a certified FSO. As part of our partnership with Seebald & Associates, we have attended classes and security symposiums, visited working facilities, and met with FSOs to understand their operational and business concerns. Our CEO, Ian Wristbridge, even climbed to the top of a cargo crane to gain a better perspective on traffic flows and access control patterns. Rumors that he had to be brought down by the local fire department are greatly exaggerated.
We certainly enjoy our time on the waterfront. More importantly, this effort has made a tremendous difference in our ability to understand how waterfront facilities operate and what is important to them. And from that point we can understand how a simple TWIC reader can be designed to move beyond its basic function to being part of a system that brings unexpected but real benefits over time. In other words, long term value.
One way that MAGNAR provides our many unique clients with long term value is with a customizable information portal. One of the things we’ve learned at MAGNAR is the maxim that “if you’ve seen one port, you’ve seen one port”. At MAGNAR, we understand that every business is unique. With FortifID, security guards get a state-of-the-art tool. FSOs get a state-of-the-art information portal that enables them to customize the settings of each device, and the way the information that those devices provide is captured and displayed. That information, available in real time, enables the FSO to make data driven decisions. The precision that FortifID brings enables the FSO to have high confidence about exactly who is coming in the front gate every day. This in turn helps a facility to operate as a high reliability organization.
Another way to look at this is through the lens of the data-information-knowledge continuum. TWIC cards hold data, most of which can’t be accessed without a reader. The FortifID reader enables the guard to access that data and turn it into information – whether the TWIC is expired, or revoked, and if the individual should be subject to any additional screening. The FortifID Portal turns that information into knowledge the FSO and other leaders can use to make better business decisions and help the company thrive.
FortifID Readers, combined with MAGNAR’s information portal, also help brick and mortar facilities act with the speed and agility of an information age organization. For example, the FSO can customize the desired random screening rates, set the reader to verify Commercial Driver’s License data, or turn the name capture feature on or off, all with a click on a screen. Need to set up a temporary access point with specific access requirements? Or what if an FSO needs to use a FortifID reader at another facility altogether? No problem, and the FSO can even use readers to help with guard management, by assigning specific readers to individual guards.
FortifID Readers can also be used for purposes beyond security. For example, if you need to create an electronic record of who is present at a training session, or for a specific work activity, simply use the FortifID Reader to capture the data from each person’s TWIC. A simple search using the FSO’s Portal and the time/date in question will create an exportable list of everyone present. FortifID Readers can also capture egress data, which when compared with access logs, could provide vital information during evacuation and mustering after an incident.
Getting back to the return on investment and fixed asset discussion, FortifID is not just a simple security tool (although it is simple to operate). It is an asset for your facility that helps you build a positive security culture and establishes your company as one that takes the security of its customers, suppliers, business partners, and employees seriously. Coast Guard inspectors will certainly take note of your use of MAGNAR’s FortifID readers, even more so if you are not required by regulation to use electronic readers. Other regulators, such as those reviewing the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS), or U.S. Customs and Border Protection personnel reviewing compliance with their voluntary Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (CT-PAT) program will also be pleased to see your use of MAGNAR’s advanced technology.
Demonstrating your security commitment to regulators will likely result in short, stress free compliance inspections and an increased likelihood that those inspections will result in a “no deficiencies, well done” comment on the inspection report rather than a fine. This is one reason your bookkeepers may want to list MAGNAR in the fixed asset column of their spreadsheets. And by the way, MAGNAR offers a variety of short term lease, long term lease, and purchase options for our FortifID Readers.
Use of FortifID Readers is an excellent deterrent against any individual seeking to do you harm. This is true whether their intent is violence or sabotage, or simply to look for opportunities for theft or other illegal activities. Malicious actors will note your security procedures and look for easier targets.
FortifID’s Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) validation feature is an example of how MAGNAR reduces risks and brings you benefits. An unlicensed truck driver is an accident waiting to happen, and unfortunately, drivers with expired or fake CDLs are a problem on our highways and in our ports. But if your guards make even occasional use of the CDL feature while conducing routine access control activity, the word in the trucking community will spread.
Anyone without a valid CDL will stay away from your facility, knowing that they face heavy fines and other penalties if they are caught. Responsible truckers and trucking companies will recognize you as a reliable and desirable business partner. This places you in a competitive position, resulting in increased revenue and decreased costs. As your reputation goes up, the likelihood of accidents and security incidents goes down. Insurance rates may follow, saving you money, year after year.
And what is true for the low level threat of an unlicensed truck driver is equally true for more malicious and sophisticated actors. MAGNAR helps you make sure that any individual or organization with ill intent perceives you as a “hard target”. No security system can make a facility impenetrable to all possible threats, but partnership with MAGNAR reduces your vulnerability and increases the likelihood that malicious actors go elsewhere. Employees, investors, and business partners will also recognize the professional approach towards security.
At MAGNAR, we view our relationship with our clients as partnerships. We’re certainly proud of our technical expertise, but we know that clever gadgets are everywhere these days. We are a service-oriented company that listens to FSOs, learns from them, and works in partnership to solve problems and produce long term value. Our goal is that you see a business relationship with MAGNAR as transformative, not merely transactional. The FortifID Reader is a modern and versatile security tool. While it excels at its basic function of validating TWICs at access points, when linked with the information portal and supported by your fellow FSOs at MAGNAR, the small, portable reader acts like a fixed asset for your company, providing long term and recurring benefits. Talk to your bookkeeper.