In close protection operations, there is always room for changes in schedules. However, proficient executive protection companies make use of planning and scheduling to enhance their workflows and tackle the unexpected. And yet, that is easier said than done. So, in this article, we examine how and why to make planning and scheduling an integral part of everyday assignments.
We often hear the catchphrase that something can still go wrong no matter the amount of preparation. Although that seems true at face value, there is more to it. For example, one can conduct assignments in one of three ways:
- Efficiently, or
- Both at the same time.
Still, not all EP operations are cheap, to begin with. While it is correct to say that cost savings can occur where possible, financial restrictions should be avoided if they impede protective efforts.
Firstly, effectiveness entails doing something in a useful manner that produces the desired result. Secondly, efficiency is all about doing something well but with the least amount of wasted resources, such as money, time, and effort.
For the most part, executive protection teams aim for effectiveness in their assignments. But still, they are not unfamiliar with limited resources when working with specific clients. That is why the only limit to security may be either financial means or one’s imagination.
To get back to our point on why timely planning and scheduling benefits both the principal and the protective agents, it is vital to consider that plans:
- Identify clear goals of the assignment,
- Anticipate contingencies to sidestep avoidable issues,
- Mitigate risk to threats,
- Deploy and use staffing and resources effectively, and
- Decrease the likelihood of unplanned events.
To keep everyone safe in the process, let us consider how to prepare for close protection operations in more detail.
Communications can be the backbone of effective planning. This refers primarily to transmitting information within the EP team but also with the principal and other protectees. No matter the environment — hostile or friendly — it is paramount to establish clear, robust communication channels.
We discourage the use of messenger services such as Facebook Messenger or plain text messaging. Conversely, the protective agents should consider safer alternatives like:
- Wickr, or
Moreover, a secure app should possess qualities like end-to-end encryption and self-destructing messages, to mention a few. And yet, some of these may not be useful while escorting a client to a desert race like Australia’s Finke.
In our experience, satellite phones are the way to go while travelling to areas with poor reception. That way, protective agents decrease the chances of losing contact with one another
Furthermore, the frequency and type of information make all the difference. For example, suppose the security team establishes that malicious actors are surveilling the principal. In that case, giving a running commentary while monitoring the potential attacker is deemed essential. In other cases, however, providing regular check-ins while grocery shopping with the client may suffice.
Similarly, some executive protection teams may be in charge of securing the principal’s office building and their residence simultaneously. Again, such cases warrant more thorough communication considerations in an assignment’s planning and scheduling phase.
In the end, it all depends on the circumstances surrounding the principal and their entourage. Nevertheless, all team members must be able to communicate with one another at all times while conducting the task.
Looking at the process that precedes and accompanies planning, the security detail must collect relevant information. The reason is that data informs setting up schedules. Without the correct information, planning and scheduling resemble a mess of guesswork. And guesswork is the arch-nemesis of any properly implemented protective assignment.
Thus, some of the information that the security team should collect beforehand include details like:
Suppose the principal’s personal assistant or they themselves provide the team leader with the relevant information. In that case, the protective agents must scrutinise the timetables and other elements provided. That is especially vital when considering that secretaries and principals are busy individuals. Hence, they may not have the time to share all relevant information with the executive protection team. But most importantly, they may forget to mention important points.
In such an instance, we recommend always maintaining close contact with household and staff members. These may include house managers, nannies, pilots, and chauffeurs. In fact, the protective agents frequently come last on the so-called information dissemination list. Expectedly, this can hinder security efforts.
In other words, the process of gathering information follows the sequence:
- Collecting and receiving data,
- Assessing threats, vulnerabilities, and risks, and
- Implementing safeguards in line with approved budgets.
The operational process we outlined above remains identical for every function or trip. In short, the team leader is ultimately the one in charge of conducting the plan. This person needs to assign goals and specific responsibilities to every team member. However, even this is subject to change.
For example, suppose a malicious actor tries to block a particular route. In this case, the EP team should modify the plan on the go.
Planning and Scheduling for Unplanned Events
The actual value of a thoroughly composed plan is in preparing for worst-case scenarios. Of course, it cannot predict what will happen. Yet, a plan can anticipate certain risks and establish detailed responses. The best possible outcomes are what the close protection operatives should always have in mind.
Moreover, some security experts even go so far as to say that Murphy’s Law applies even to planning and scheduling in EP. Simply put, the stated rule posits that “anything that can go wrong will go wrong.” That is why the team leader must be a flexible individual, quickly thinking all the time. Doing so will make the entire team better equipped to adapt to unplanned events, as it is the team leader who decides on what happens next.
- Should the principal change vehicles?
- What are alternative routes to the destination?
- Are medical facilities nearby?
The plan should account for these and any other questions.
In addition, if an unplanned event were to occur abroad, such circumstances may imply coming into conflict with local law enforcement. That is an exceptionally touchy subject as many corners of the world have corrupt police officers. In fact, they may try to make the principal’s life difficult to earn their livelihoods.
In this circumstance, it is paramount to have local support in countries with more volatile areas, including Indonesia.
Companies like Panoptic Solutions support individuals and organisations in enhancing productivity and peace of mind by offering unmatched close protection services.