Three Pillars of Visitor Management

When identifying the need for a visitor management solution, there are three categories to consider

Every business, campus, facility and organization in a specialty vertical could benefit from some kind of visitor management system, whether on a small or large scale. In reality, these organizations or businesses already have some type of visitor management system in place, but it is often in the inefficient form of a receptionist or paper logbook.

In order for a company to identify the need for a system, they need to think about the three pillars of visitor management.

“We are always looking at the three pillars, or challenges, to solve: cost, risk and compliance,” said Jonathan Moore, Senior Director Enterprise Solutions Group at AMAG Technology.

COST

The first pillar of visitor management is cost—not the cost of the visitor management system, but the cost of not having a system in place at all.

“Cost is so important,” said Justin Wilmas, Sr., Director of Sales— North America at AMAG Technology. “In a lot of organizations, there are staff sitting at desks. When I ask them, ‘Why is someone sitting there?’ The answer they give me is: ‘What if a visitor shows up?’ The operational costs of having that person sitting there is so much more than introducing a system that can automate the process for them.”

Moore explained that most organizations hire people to solve problems that could be solved by an automated system.

“We are looking for customers that are already spending money in some way right now to deal with the challenges they already have,” Moore said. “Typically, those challenges are high visitor traffic, different locations an organization is trying to tie together or a lot of manual processes that could be automated. They are throwing people at the problem, and it is costing them more money than needed.”

Included in the cost pillar is the amount of data that a visitor management system can offer a company. AMAG Technology’s Guest SymmetryVisitor Management platform provides the user with reports from their system that can give them insights into their organization.

“You can take all that data and analyze it and get to know your facility a little better,” Wilmas said. “Now you know how to appropriately staff your facility because now you know what days will be slow and when you are to expect a high amount of visitor traffic.”

RISK

The second pillar of visitor management is risk. What could be at risk at a campus, health care facility or corporate campus if a visitor management system was not implemented?

“You also need to look at visitor management from a risk standpoint,” Moore said. “What is the risk of a visitor going somewhere they shouldn’t go? What is the organization trying to protect?”

It is essential to examine the risk factor in a hospital or health care facility, for example. There are certain access points that need to be heavily guarded in a hospital, such as pharmacy areas, maternity wards or children’s medical wings. If the wrong person gained access to one of these areas, there are many things that could go wrong.

“What a hospital does is identify and track you,” Wilmas said. “Depending on where in the hospital you are trying to get, the organization is going to have certain policies about pre-requisites you are going to have to fill before you can gain access to these areas.”

The biggest challenge when adopting security measures like visitor management systems at a hospital is balancing a friendly and open environment with security. Visitors at a health care facility like a hospital are already visiting the facility under stressful or tense circumstances; the last thing a visitor needs to do is jump through ten hoops before gaining access to a sick loved one.

“The challenge then becomes, how do you make a visitor management system easy enough for a customer to want to use it?” Wilmas said. “The minute it isn’t easy and helpful, they reject it and go right back to staffing a front desk or calling someone else to take care of it."

COMPLIANCE

The last pillar of visitor management is compliance. Compliance encompasses all the most important problems that these visitor management systems set out to solve. Each vertical, including campuses, energy facilities and health care organizations, has certain policies they need to follow and data that needs to be captured.

To return to the example of health care facilities: these hospitals and medical facilities are regularly audited by an organization called the Joint Commission. The Joint Commission audits these facilities and then gives them a score, which directly correlates to an amount of funding that the hospital then receives.

“One of the things that hospitals are graded on when they are audited is visitor management: how they track their visitors and how they manage their visitors,” Wilmas said. “These facilities are very much focused on how to do it in a cost-efficient manner that allows them to receive the best score possible because it relates back directly to the amount of funding they will receive.”

Separate of health care facilities, there are some organizations or corporate campuses that might require visitors to fill out forms or agree to a non-disclosure agreement when visiting a certain location. Symmetry Guest allows users to include these kinds of documents in the program so that when a visitor comes to a location, they are automatically greeted with any and all important documents that need to be signed before the meeting can proceed.

“When you are going through a check-in process, a lot of organizations have now adopted a sort of ‘terms and conditions’ that a visitor will need to check off,” Wilmas said. “That’s another problem that is usually paper-based, and technology can solve that very easily. That then begins to loop back around to our cost pillar, because now clients are reducing costs by not hiring someone to just collect signed papers.”

Whether you look at it in terms of cost, risk or compliance, visitor management systems are crucial to the overall security of an educational campus, health care or corporate facility. The benefits of the system far outweigh not introducing one to your organization.

This article originally appeared in the August 2018 issue of Campus Security Today.

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