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Help to achieve ACS Accreditation using the ACS Self Assessment Workbook Guide – Processes: part 1

the acs accreditation self assessmentIn this series of nine blogs I am attempting to simplify and suggest ways to help your company meet the requirements as laid out in the Self Assessment Workbook Guide. In my opinion the more companies achieve and maintain ACS Accreditation the better. The guide details what you, your company, your staff and clients need to do in order for your company to gain or maintain ACS Accreditation.

This week my PARiM Workforce Management Software blog continues to look at the SIA’s ACS Self Assessment Workbook Guide and achieving ACS Accreditation and deals with the 2nd Section which is all about PROCESSES.

Click here to access the ACS Accreditation blog on Strategy.

Section 2 of the Workbook Guide is all about your PROCESSES and your understanding of them:-

  • Your service delivery processes
  • Your business continuity or disaster recovery plans
  • Your process for agreeing contracts with new and potential clients
  • Your process for agreeing Service Level Agreements with new and existing clients
  • Your process for recording and monitoring incidents
  • Your process for interaction with your clients including feedback and service requests
  • Your Company’s process for reviewing your service and staff

So key and fundamental to getting to grips with Criteria #2 The Processes section is that an accredited security provider or a company aspiring to accreditation can demonstrate that the management and staff have identified and understood the company’s key service delivery processes and can readily demonstrate not only their understanding but that there is an audit trail to back up each of the processes outlined above.

When it comes to understanding your company’s service process, WHAT YOU NEED for every aspect is to keep things SIMPLE (as complicated does not always equal better) and:

  • To imagine you are your client and what service level criteria would you set
  • To then set your company a reasonable performance target and
  • To put a system in place to monitor your service and
  • To measure its performance.
  • Regularly review how you are doing against target
  • To benchmark your quality of service against industry standard or rivals

You therefore need to set the criteria or aspects of your service that you can measure or want measured and then say “I realistically expect to deliver an 8 out of 10” service as XYZ Security.

Client Feedback

Create a feedback form for your clients, load it up on their portal, if the system you are using has one and then wait for those completed forms to fly back in. Nudge the client every month or after every event using an email package such as Mailchimp.

Keep ALL of them. Negative feedback should be considered as a positive experience and an OPPORTUNITY to highlight areas where you can improve what you are doing!! Challenge yourself and keep putting yourself in the shoes of your customer and thinking how you would feel?

You can learn much more from making the odd mistake and then improving the quality of your service. Keep your systems simple and manageable, so that information is easy to find and your mistakes or incidents are highlighted. If the incident or mistake highlights a weakness in your systems CHANGE them .Doing this and working to increase your client satisfaction levels can only lead to one thing – more business, more revenue and more profit! I could launch down the whole continual improvement cycle here but that’s probably for another blog!

Test your service

As well as putting yourself in your client’s shoes, act as a “mystery shopper” and test your service yourself. You must test your service and these tests must be done outside of your normal site inspections. For example if you provide security services, you must test the effectiveness of that security service. Get a friend or family member to try and compromise your service and document what happens.

Document and collate evidence that your systems are being followed and procedures are being checked e.g Staff clock in/out is being watched and monitored or that lone worker checks under BS8484:2011 are being done. One of the ways to make this easier to do, is to use a system that allows you to load up documents or job/ site/ client specifications against the site or staff doing the work. That way there is an easy reference should they have a question or query.

Help yourself

One aspect of the ACS Accreditation is proving that you and your staff always follow your systems and procedures. This can be quite a laborious process especially if you are still using paper systems, paper timesheets and a manual payroll. If you want to make life easier for yourself, save time money and effort, never lose documentation or relevant paperwork. Pick a cloud based system that allows you to store all the key documentation, copies of SIA badges, copies of Visa, training records, sickness and holidays and reminds you when VITAL certificates or visas are about to expire. As they say “prevention is the best remedy!”

Contingency or Disaster Recovery Plans

You need to make sure that your business contingency plans, or disaster recovery plans, are regularly tested and reviewed. A standard framework for one of these can be found on the internet with a provider like Simply-docs and my advice would be to take a template and amend it to your business, your business needs and situation and that of your clients. If you are using a cloud based, workforce management package and your office burns down or is flooded, your service the interaction with staff and clients could be completely unaffected and your management can carry on scheduling their guards and supervisors wherever they end up whenever. This ability has to be a massive plus when a company is being assess for accreditation!

Other questions you should ask yourself in terms of contingency planning would be:-

What happens if you have an IT systems failure, a power surge or lose lots of data

  • How frequently are back-ups done, is a copy kept off site or is it cloud based?
  • How would you quickly identify alternative office accommodation?
  • How do you store key files, equipment and clients keys if you provide key-holding
  • How would you record staff hours and pay them if you had a payroll system failure?
  • How do your management or staff respond to threats against your organisation or your sites?
  • How would you cope with the loss of key personnel?

A reliable, secure cloud based system, which automatically backs up data more than once a day would be a good solution to the first few points. Some form of Key man insurance is a good idea for securing funding to replace key personnel should the worst happen and can also provide some security to their families for loss of earnings.

Keeping copies of your essential insurance documents and key contacts on your central workforce management system means you decide who has access but if they are needed in an emergency they are instantly accessible.

Conclusion

The above gives you a flavour of what is expected by the PROCESS Section of the workbook. In order to try and keep these blogs brief, informative and useful I have left the detail of the sections until next week when I will cover 2.3.1 to 2.5.2 of this section. Keep things simple and easy to understand. I cannot emphasise enough the value of using the right type of technology in terms of meeting these criteria. Pick one that does all the mundane administrative functions automatically and leaves you time to concentrate on the other key elements of evidence gathering for your accreditation.

Go straight to the second part!

You may also find useful the following blogs:

ACS Accreditation criteria #3 Commercial Management

Acs Accreditation Criteria #4 Financial Management

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