The ACS: Five years of continual improvement

The SIA’s Approved Contractor Scheme celebrated five years of successful operation in March this year. Underpinning this success is the long-term improvement achieved by approved contractors. SIA assistant director of the ACS Andrew Shephard explains.

Information on the latest scores achieved during ACS assessments has today been published by the SIA. Each approved contractor is assessed annually, receiving a score   that indicates the extent to which it has exceeded the good practice standards required by the ACS. Measures of good practice are detailed in the ACS self-assessment workbook, allowing approved contractors and assessors to determine a score based on the number of good practice elements in place.

Continual improvement is central to the ACS and using scoring in the assessment encourages contractors to strive to improve. Approved contractors may use their score to track and measure progress against the ACS standard and to compare their overall performance with others.

With more than 3,000 ACS assessments now conducted, the SIA has consistently refined and added to the statistical information published. Most recently we have calculated separate figures for each size of organisation (micro, small, medium and large) to enable approved contractors to make a more meaningful comparison of their score to help plan further improvements.

Performance above the required level results in a +1, +2 or higher score. Performance below the required achievement level results in a -1, -2 or lower score. The minimum overall score that a company can achieve and still be approved is zero. Zero is a satisfactory score, as it demonstrates that the company is meeting the ACS standard and following recognised industry good practice.

Over the past year approved contractors have again demonstrated their commitment to raising standards with an average increase in score of 12 – roughly equating to 12 new good practice elements implemented and independently recognised. Assessment scores have increased every year since the launch of the ACS in 2006. Each approved contractor has, on average, improved their score by 26 since first becoming approved. This achievement is  all the more impressive when it is considered that the ACS standard itself has been raised over time, meaning  improvement is required simply to maintain the same score.

The information published today gives an insight into the highest levels of scoring as well as into the rates of improvement. Almost 10 per cent of approved contractors have now achieved a score of 100 or above. Whilst no approved contractor has yet recorded the current maximum possible score of 159, some have come close.

There is evidence that buyers of security services are increasingly paying attention to assessment scores. 85% of buyers who responded to a recent SIA online survey required their security provider to be an approved contractor, with the most frequently identified reason being that ACS “provides reassurance on quality and management.” More than 60% of respondents indicated that assessment score was an important factor in selection of a supplier. Given the commitment shown by approved contractors and the attention from buyers we expect that improvement in assessment scores will continue and as a result standards will continue to be raised.

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