What to consider when evaluating a visitor management system
In a word, the future of work –– and the workplace technology that powers it –– is integration. In particular, there’s an emerging trend in the way that the physical and virtual workplace is managed. The people who control the physical workplace (think Head of Facilities and Head of Workplace) are working more closely with IT leaders and security teams to implement workplace technology solutions.
Why is this? While a facilities team may want to adopt a new application, like a visitor management system, for example, the project teams tasked with selecting, implementing, and managing these tools are increasingly cross-functional. It’s becoming much more common to see workplace technology project teams comprised of key stakeholders from all over the company: the Head of Physical Security, IT professionals, facilities managers, plus HR and People team members.
In the past, these roles wouldn’t frequently make buying decisions together. With evolving technology trends and end user expectations changing though, they are now working more closely and doing so more frequently. This is great news, of course, for alignment –– but there can certainly be tension between competing departmental priorities.
But guess what? Today’s workplace and the workplace of the future can be both forward-thinking and offer great experiences. You don’t have to sacrifice a high-quality, welcoming, and efficient visitor experience for tradeoffs in security. Here’s what to take into account and keep top-of-mind as you review visitor management system options for your workplace.
Past versus present: Why “old school” visitor management add-ons don’t keep pace with today’s workplace needs
How does your workplace manage visitor and physical access to the building? It’s likely access control is managed in an on-premise environment and you do not have a visitor management system or if you do it is an add on to a legacy system. There is much that has been written comparing on-premise and cloud-based technology; there are pros and cons to each solution, but the benefits of cloud-based tools are best for cultivating and maintaining an agile, forward-thinking workplace today.
What we’re hearing now from companies, even from Head of Security roles that you might not assume would care as much about the user experience of workplace technology, is that using add-ons to legacy on-premise software that was designed 10–15 years ago is not a good experience. This is true for visitors and the people that manage these systems day-to-day.
This unfortunately isn’t surprising, as in the past, most visitor management solutions were built as an add-on to other platforms like access control. From a functionality standpoint, visitor management was an afterthought. It’s likely not updated frequently, does not play well with new technology like Office 365, Aruba ClearPass, or Everbridge and it is generally hard to manage, too.
Because add-on visitor management software solutions usually aren’t cloud-based, they can’t work effortlessly with APIs and integrations that can keep your strategy current and secure with the latest bug fixes and improvements.
With cloud-based tools, the product roadmap, enhancements and speed of development is accelerated. Look for companies that can launch major updates to the system on a monthly, or even weekly, basis. You wouldn’t want to trust your visitor management to just any technology –– and luckily, you don’t have to.
Ready to invest in a cloud-based visitor management system? Look for these key features.
In addition to being more agile and easy to use, cloud-based platforms streamline many of the most important aspects of your visitor operations. These features are core components that workplaces need to weigh when evaluating a visitor management system:
- Digital visitor logs and global analytics that can be stored securely yet accessed quickly in the event of an internal or third-party audit or when making resource decisions.
- Pre-registration capabilities to better manage expectations for visitors ahead of an on-site interview, meeting, or event.
- Block list and third-party list functionality to discreetly and securely cross-check visitors. How long does it take to manually conduct a visitor approval check? What if you could do it instantly and have a digital log of the process?
- Global success and adoption of the specific application. How many customers actually use the visitor management system compared to the legacy system that the visitor management capabilities were added on to?
- Integration with your core productivity and workplace security apps like Office 365, Google Apps, Slack, OpenPath, Cisco Meraki, & Aruba ClearPass.
Integrations designed to keep your workplace safe and secure
There are a wide variety of integrations that will enhance your visitor management system, such as automated crisis communications that automatically notify everyone checked in to your digital visitor log the moment an event takes place.
For example, Everbridge allows you to send out emergency communication to everyone in your office. Once an office manager clicks a button, Everbridge sends a notification out with instructions to everyone in your visitor log currently in the office. This helps immensely with both employee and visitor safety.
Other crucial integrations that let you focus on workplace security and creating great experiences are:
- Visual compliance. This integration allows workplaces to automatically screen visitors and other invitees against specific watchlists without leaving your visitor management system workflow. This is crucial to meeting visitor management compliance regulations because it keeps better track of exactly who is in your workplace.
- Aruba ClearPass Wifi access. The Aruba ClearPass integration allows automated, individually-provisioned Wi-Fi network access to visitors and employees. After sign-in, visitors get an email or text message with username and password information for Wi-Fi access. And that’s it –– they’re happily on WiFi without compromising your network.
The bottom line? With the availability of secure, cloud-based technology, workplace leaders no longer have to choose between workplace experience and the security of their networks, employees, intellectual property, and physical spaces. You need access control as much as you need visitor management; these are separate but equally vital functions that your business and workplace can’t do without.