“You know us well,” said the Global Chief Security Officer. “We’ve got significant supply chain risk and exposure to international terrorism. We’re acutely focused on the possibility that explosives or WMDs could be introduced into our global manufacturing, transportation and distribution networks at any moment of the day or stage in our operating processes. We’re committed to being experts in explosives detection.”

She paused and looked around the room for effect. “Right now – as a routine but continuous upgrade in our security capabilities – I want your team to assess six distribution depots in Mexico from a security risk perspective and give me your recommendations on how to equip these facilities with the best counter-measures available in explosives detection and screening.”

The Hillard Heintze Solution: Explosives Detection and Monitoring

As the client’s strategic security advisor, Hillard Heintze’s role over several years has been to help ensure that the enterprise’s core operations are appropriately supported by the most effective security risk management processes and technologies in the world.  And that has included explosive detection and prevention, among many other measures. The client had recently acted upon Hillard Heintze’s recommendation to implement some of the world-class solutions advanced by an industry leader in high-consequence technical threat protection systems. On this engagement, the joint team in Mexico analyzed and evaluated each of the designated facilities with respect to many factors.  These included, for example, security risk management priorities, feasibility issues and parameters, and technical requirements supporting the rapid and effective planned deployment of several high-performance explosive screening solutions. Based on this analysis, the team recommended the deployment of explosive detection canine teams and leading screening technology that enables high-speed, real-time contact with certified bomb technicians in 24/7 emergency operations centers.

Impact on the Client’s Business

After one week in Mexico, the Hillard Heintze team submitted its report and convened for a post-action teleconference with the client. “Mexico is done,” said the CSO. “Let’s keep moving. I need two of you in Rio on Monday. And the rest of you need to clear our Mumbai facilities by Tuesday the following week. Then we need the whole team in Dakar by noon on April 1st. That’s Senegal time.”

Unplugged: The Project Manager’s Perspective

“Unfortunately, many global enterprises implement security-related technology and process-based solutions without looking at the broader picture.  They’ll spend the first few million to ‘check the technology box’ – and next several on post-integration crises. We’re often called in when an expensive solution doesn’t work and the root cause is tracked back to a nest of issues that the client’s in-house team can’t unwind quickly enough. But the clients who gain the greatest value from us are those like this one. They’re the ones that take a top-down, risk-driven, strategy-directed approach to security risk management. The enterprise operating environment is too complex not to.”

The ACTION WEDNESDAY Tool Box: Two Key Take-Aways

  1. Don’t Just Lock in on the Technology First: In this case, we went into this project anticipating the application of a particular technology that, for many reasons, appeared promising.  Within hours of being on the ground in Mexico, we encountered local circumstances that placed some pretty heavy constraints on the risk security solutions we had intended to recommend.  We ended up recommending an integrated set of solutions that were highly integrated with one another – and well supported by key process and organizational components.  That’s the ticket. You have to get that mix right.
  2. Be Ready to Balance Global Requirements with Local Needs: Sometimes the decision driver is the global requirement – like the need for standardization worldwide, or the promise of procurement synergies.  And other times, on-the-ground priorities should prevail.  Get the vision and strategy right first.  Then make sure you have the right voices contributing to the decision.

(What’s it like on the front line supporting the firm’s clients?  What are the challenges the firm’s experts help senior business executives, general counsel, board members and other decision-makers address?  Welcome to ACTION WEDNESDAY.  Every Wednesday, the Front Line Blog publishes a new case study.)