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What Is Total Security Management?

By Mark Wollacott
Updated May 16, 2024
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Total security management is a holistic approach to business security. Sometimes shortened to TSM, it is a risk management system developed to improve security while reducing costs. The purpose of TSM is to put security at the forefront of business operations and procedures instead of relegating it to add-on status. Like with other risk management techniques, total security management seeks to identify, assess and deal with security risks.

The idea was developed under the US Department of Homeland Security’s first Secretary, Tom Ridge. It owes its development to the similar principle of Total Quality Management, or TQM, which sought to put product quality above all other business concerns. The methodology and concept first appeared in the 2006 book, "Securing Global Transportation Networks: A Total Security Management Approach," which was introduced by Tom Ridge.

Security aims for TSM look toward maximizing and reducing certain elements of a company’s procedures. It seeks to reduce threats and costs such as theft. It also seeks to improve elements such as due process and asset management. Finally, it aims to improve the value and goodwill associated with the company’s brand.

Value chains and supply chains are the main focus of total security management. The idea of value chains was introduced by Michael Porter in 1985. It focuses on all the activities within a company, most of which fall into two main areas. The first are primary activities such as sales, logistics, marketing and services. The second are support activities including human resources, management and procurement.

Supply chain management applies the weakest link theory. A chain of supply is only as good as its weakest link. The logistics of a supply chain vary from company to company, but can be vast and complicated. A company importing goods from another continent will need to organize the transportation method, how the cargo is stored and sealed, and which contractors to use. The transported goods will be subject to international laws, tariffs and inspections.

Total security management seeks to improve security and reduce costs in a number of ways. First, the entire supply chain is inspected. The origin of goods, the route taken and the transportation method are compared for cost and security. The ideal methods employ low costs and high security; most of the time, there is a balance.

Secondly, the company employing total supply management will carefully inspect the contractors it uses in other countries. Staff screening will reduce security threats such as theft, fraud and terrorism. The company researches all relevant laws and tariffs along the supply route. Alternate routes could be safer or could offer lower tariffs.

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