Tips & Tricks Industry Expertise

What are SOPs? How to Standardize Response for Your GSOC

Security teams handle a lot of incoming data and information related to potentially life-threatening events and emergencies. Whether you’re working with seasoned professionals or new trainees, having a step-by-step plan for how to handle specific situations consistently is essential for meeting the goal of keeping people and assets safe. 

That’s where standard operating procedures (SOPs) come in. 

Here, we talk about what SOPs are, their function and benefit, what’s included, and how you can develop your own SOPs.

What are SOPs?

SOPs are detailed, written instructions designed to achieve uniformity when performing security-related functions. While they are used across various industries, for security teams, they’re designed to ensure that all processes are carried out consistently and correctly, minimizing errors and improving efficiency and safety.

What's included in an SOP?

While specifics included in an SOP will vary from company to company based on the needs of the organization, there are several key aspects of an SOP that should be considered:

  • Purpose and scope: The purpose included describes why the SOP is needed and what it aims to achieve. The scope outlines the boundaries of the SOP, including which tasks and processes it covers and who it applies to. Both give users the ability to understand why the SOP is in place. 
  • Responsibilities: SOPs clearly outline who is responsible for carrying out each part of the process and specifies the roles and duties of individuals or teams involved in the process. For example, the role of internal (GSOC operators or field resources) versus external (police or fire department first responders) stakeholders during an emergency or incident. 
  • Procedures: This includes step-by-step instructions on how to handle any given situation. This might include details about safety precautions, when to involve first responders, how to respond to specific alarms, and more. 
  • Documentation: The SOP also includes how to document the response correctly and consistently, which gives security leaders the opportunity to review and use the information to create additional best practices or amend steps in the SOP.

Why are SOPs important?

SOPs are an essential and vital component of any security plan. They provide a clear and concise set of guidelines to help your security team understand their roles and responsibilities no matter how long they have been on the job.

What are the benefits of SOPs for security teams?

  • Quickly train and onboard employees: SOPs can be used as training materials for operators and guards to understand what to do in case of specific events. Employees can get up to speed quickly and speed up their time to value. 
  • Expansion and scalability: Quickly enable your team at new locations, or onboard more employees. 
  • Increase productivity: When everything is documented, there is no question as to what needs to be done. 
  • Gain more efficiency: SOPs help streamline processes, reducing wasted time and resources to respond to incoming events. 
  • Meet compliance standards: Many verticals require consistent, documented procedures to meet regulatory and legal requirements.

SOPs are an essential and vital component of any security plan. They provide a clear and concise set of guidelines to help your security team understand their roles and responsibilities no matter how long they have been on the job.

How can I develop an SOP?

Whether you’re spearheading a new security program or providing additional processes through SOPs for your security team, developing an SOP can take time and the involvement of multiple stakeholders. Here are some steps you can take: 

  1. Identify the process: Determine which process or incident type needs an SOP. 
  2. Gather information: Collect all the necessary information, including insights from operators who will be asked to perform the task. 
  3. Draft the SOP: Write a draft in clear, concise language with detailed, step-by-step instructions.
  4. Review and test: Ensure the proper stakeholders (like GSOC operators and analysts) are able to review the draft and provide feedback. This is essential for making sure the steps taken are practical and applicable. 
  5. Approve and implement: Finalize the SOP and gain approval from all relevant stakeholders before implementing. Within the HiveWatch platforms, upload the SOP and tie it to the relevant locations where it will be used. 
  6. Train staff: Make sure operators are aware of the new SOP and how it’s triggered. 
  7. Monitor and revise: As the SOP is used, a critical piece of the puzzle is ensuring it makes sense and works for the location and teams using it. Take time to review and revise as necessary. 

What are embedded SOPs?

The best way to use SOPs is to get them out of paper binders sitting in your GSOC and embed them into your security operations platform. 

The HiveWatch® GSOC Operating System and HiveWatch® Command Center offer users the ability to create and upload SOPs within the system, allowing operators to access customized SOPs in a centralized, easily accessible location within the platform. 

The outcomes can include: 

  • Improved efficiency and response times while accessing the SOPs within the same platform used to manage security incidents
  • Limiting context switching between multiple systems during an incident
  • Increased training effectiveness by streamlining next steps within the HiveWatch platforms for operators to follow 

HiveWatch has created a starter pack of SOPs aimed at creating better response for your GSOC operators. Download them here.

Topics: Program Manager Tips

Jenna Hardie
Jenna Hardie

Jenna Hardie is senior manager, content and PR, for HiveWatch, a physical security software company reimagining how organizations keep their people and assets safe. Hardie has worked in the physical security, cybersecurity, and high-tech space for the last nine years, driving brand awareness, media relations, marketing, and communications initiatives.


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