From Access Control to Visitor Management – What Super Enterprises Want

Electronic access control systems do a great job of restricting access through openings that are designed to be used by your employees and vendors.  No valid card, no entry.  But, for many organizations, that is not where most people enter their facility.  It’s the main lobby or other public entrances where the majority of human threats will access a targeted building.  A visitor management system is needed to address those threats, but that’s where things can get tricky.  You want your visitors to experience a frictionless and even enjoyable process of getting into your building to see your employees.  At the same time, you need to provide safety and security for everyone in the building by screening for potential bad actors. Many access control system manufacturers have, with varying degrees of success, ventured a foray into the visitor management field.  Sometimes this has been done by building integration to an existing visitor management platform – with or without rebranding.  Sometimes it is done by expanding the software capabilities of their access control system to include visitor management functionality – again, with varying degrees of success.  For the Super Enterprise, defined as those very large organizations with a worldwide reach and facilities around the globe, both of these solutions often fall short.

Back in 1989, Time Data Security (TDS) was a small company operating mostly in Ireland where they are headquartered.  Their primary focus back then was electronic access control systems but has since expanded to include a visitor management system designed specifically as a SaaS for Super Enterprises.  They expanded across the UK and now can boast 20 million users in 89 countries.  Brilliance Security Magazine spoke with Owen Pagan, CEO at TDS, to better understand what Super Enterprises need from their visitor management system.

Unless your organization has the luxury of a perimeter fence with guards, bollards, and cameras, it is likely that your visitor management system is your first line of defense.  For that reason, visitor management needs to be done correctly.  The safety of your employees, your intellectual property, and even your network and critical data are all at risk if you don’t know who is in your building.

It is apparent that two factors contributing to TDS’ success are market diversity and customization.  TDS caters to a variety of industries including aviation, government, pharmaceutical, retail, multinationals, and education.  Their systems are tailored to meet the varying requirements of their clients, attracting customers such as Google.  In fact, they claim that every Google office around the globe, including sites such as LA, New York, Shanghai, Mumbai & Seoul use their visitor management system, TDS Visitor.

Owen explained that some of the features for TDS Visitor include an automatic email or SMS notification to the employee when their visitor arrives, the use of a QR code for quick visitor check-in, and meeting location details sent to the visitor when they arrive.  You can print custom designed visitor badges and even let your guests sign an NDA, if needed, before the meeting.  The reporting features allow administrators to monitor who is in or has been in the facility, complete with a reason for the visit.

Robust reporting functionality is essential to assist administrators in identifying policies that may need to be reinforced or modified to meet the balance between convenience and security.

The Super Enterprise understands that you can’t enforce policy or modify employee behavior unless you can measure how your visitor management system is being used.  Sometimes a security policy relating to visitors may just not make sense seen in the light of how employees need to interact with their visitors.  Sometimes employees may just find it more convenient to circumvent a security policy.  The visitor management software must be able to provide timely – even real-time –  statistics on how the system is being used.  From this information, constant tweaks to the system will provide that combination of ease of use as well as security that these organizations require.  Owen explained that “a visitor management system needs to provide a global view of what is going on within the enterprise.”

An effective visitor management system must be easy to use. Employees will resist a cumbersome process of registering their guests. Fast and easy to use is a key for Super Enterprises.

Super Enterprises understand the value of their employee’s time.  A frictionless experience is not only necessary for arriving guests, but also – and maybe even more so – for the employees that will set up the appointments in the visitor management system.  An intuitive interface with built-in integration with services such as LinkedIn and other relevant systems will facilitate better user adoption.  Owen said that TDS’ system will even schedule to have a car pick up your guests using their Uber integration.  A large organization can not afford to deploy a system that finds so much resistance among their employees that it is eventually abandoned.

Making it fast and easy for visitors to check-in will pay off in both employee productivity and brand reputation as someone that others want to do business with.

Super Enterprises recognize the value of treating their visitors as guests.  Vendors, contractors, and business associates of all types want to do business with an enterprise that values their time and helps them be more efficient and effective.  An elegant visitor check-in process leaves a lasting impression and elevates the entire meeting atmosphere.  The Super Enterprise will not make the mistake of providing a big beautiful building for their employees and guests then manage the visitor process with a paper log.

First and foremost the visitor management system for a Super Enterprise must be a security system designed to ensure that managers know who is in their building and why.  Ultimately, however, this system should provide value to the enterprise beyond security, in areas such as productivity, efficiency, and image.

By: Steven Bowcut, CPP, PSP, Brilliance Security Magazine Editor-in-Chief.