(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.)

“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.”

Explosives Detection Becomes a Top Priority

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 and give me your recommendations on how to equip these facilities with the best counter-measures available in explosive detection and screening.”

A Long-Standing Advisory Relationship

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 processes and technologies in the world.

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 factors such as 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. These included 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.

Accolades, Deadlines, and Client Pressure to Expand Protection Quickly

After one week in Mexico, the Hillard Heintze team submitted its report and convened for a post-action teleconference with the client. “Nice job,” 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. Then we need the whole team in Dakar for breakfast by Thursday morning. That’s GMT. Senegal time.”

Unplugged: The Perspective of the Project Manager

“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 inhouse 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 Wait for an Event to Occur.  Anticipate It. Prevention costs far less then a high-stakes, crisis-triggered response.  View – and measure – your risk as a continuously changing function of threat, vulnerability, and consequence.  Then align your spending priorities accordingly.

2.  Develop Foresight.  Transforming an enterprise security program from a reactive  organization to an agile, forward-facing, risk-driven one requires a fairly sophisticated level of planning. Define your security strategy – and make sure that monitoring, intelligence, and liaison with international, domestic and regional homeland security, intelligence and law enforcement third-party organizations is deeply embedded in  your approach.