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We write articles mainly about visitor management, which helps you to know who is (or has been) in your facility. It is just part of an organization’s physical security processes that protect people and property within and around a building or campus.

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How to get approval for buying a visitor management system

by Paul Kazlauskas

visitor management software, visitor badges

Electronic visitor management systems (VMS) are a computerized version of the visitor sign-in sheet (or visitor log book) used in buildings for years and are being implemented more frequently in all types of facilities. While more expensive than a traditional log book, the VMS offers a more efficient and full-proof sign-in process. It is the most secure way to sign in visitors that come to your facility and a relatively affordable way to improve the security of your building.

Let’s say you’ve been tasked with building a case for implementing a VMS, researching options, and providing your recommendation. Those steps are just the start of the process. You also need to get the appropriate people to agree on the decision. Here are some things to consider as you navigate the process and tips for being prepared along the way.

1. Know the product offerings completely
Make sure you understand all the pertinent features of the product (that is, what it does). Visitor management systems range in security function complexity performing such tasks as signing-in, accessing data, reporting, and ease of implementing once purchased. In addition to the features, make sure you can articulate each of the benefits (that is, what it allows your organization to do). Be sure to think about the challenges of your current system/protocol and how the new visitor management system is a better solution.

2. Establish who in the organization needs to be convinced
Determine which people in your facility need to buy into this idea. Who are the decision makers? They often vary between businesses, to hospitals, and to schools. You need to identify who are the most influential people in your facility capable of making this type of decision. It could be the President, the CEO, the Security Director, the Principal, or someone in Risk Management.

In addition to the decision-makers, you’ll need to speak with the people who will ultimately be responsible for integration, upkeep, and support. Before speaking with them, think about answers to the following questions:

  • What are their care-abouts?
  • How will this change in facility operation affect their team/department?
  • Consider the cost of your staff manning the visitor management station. Do you have enough manpower?
  • Will the new visitor management software save time?
  • Will this change in procedure increase security?

Understanding your internal team and their needs will help you in getting the project approved. When you show you took the time to understand them, fear of change or any other objection will be easier to overcome.

3. Develop the presentation
When developing the presentation for your visitor management system recommendation, think about it in terms business goals and what success looks like (including the types of data that will be tracked). The main question that should be answered is “what are the overall benefits of implementing this visitor management system”? The answer needs to be a clear, concise rationale for implementing the selection. Factors can include how security is increased, speed of sign-in, and efficiency of the front desk receptionist.

As with any change of policy or procedure, there will be some risk involved. You need to take an honest look at any potential pitfalls of implementation and think about how to address them. How are these risks going to be mitigated? If you are struggling at all answering that question, reach out to the company that sells the product. Most likely, it’s salespeople have heard every possible objection and could provide you with the right arguments to overcome them.

4. Have a meeting to present the idea and start the conversations
After you’ve done the research, identified the people affected, thought about your internal team’s needs, and prepared for answers to any risks, it’s time to start conversations with all the people you identified above. Be prepared and don’t give up. There are bound to be bumps along the way to approval, no matter how prepared you are. Face-to-face meetings and quick team huddles to gauge feedback will be more effective at advancing your agenda than an email or printed memo. Digital and print communications are necessary, but overall success greatly increases when you are physically present to hear feedback, thoughts, and objections.

5. Be ready for continuous follow-up after implementation
Changes in a facility’s security culture don’t happen overnight. After receiving approval for the purchase, conducting the correct training for each stakeholder in the process, and ultimately implementing the VMS, you should be ready to follow-up moving forward.

As I mentioned in a previous blog post, following up on new security procedures is as important as the procedures themselves. This includes:

  • Making sure the training for each stakeholder was conducted and everyone involved completely understands the new policies.
  • Checking-in on how your security policies are being carried out:
    • Are all visitors being recorded in the visitor management system and wearing a visitor badge while on facility grounds?
    • Are there any unidentified people walking around the building without visitor badges?
    • Have there been any technical support issues since the system was introduced? 
  • Revisiting "what success looks like" from earlier in the process. Is time being saved? Is the front desk more efficient? What metrics can be measured to determine this was a good decision?

You don't want to find out the new security policies/procedures are not being followed, or worse, an incident takes place that your policies were intended to prevent. Effort and communication are key to making sure a new visitor management system implementation is successful for your facility.

What other ideas can you think of to help get a new visitor management system purchase approved, implemented, and ultimately be successful in increasing facility security? Join the conversation and add your thoughts in the “Comments” section below.

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Posted on 11/20/2017

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