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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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Pro's and Con's of an Electronic Visitor Management System

by Paul Kazlauskas

Electronic Visitor Management Systems are complex purchases. Learn the Pro's and Con's before making a decision.
Before you choose a visitor management system, think about what you want your system to do — such as identify visitors, track visitors, access background information, and/or issue reports. Electronic visitor management systems (VMS) are used to sign-in and track visitors who come to visit a facility. They are the electronic version of the traditional visitor sign-in book. There are numerous Pro's and Con's to having an electronic visitor management system and each list should be considered before making a decision.

Here is a list of PRO’s to having an electronic visitor management system…

  • Accuracy: Visitor information is recorded more uniformly and correctly when using a VMS. Most of the time, a driver’s license reader or business card scanner is being used to record the information. Having an electronic way to capture the visitor information ensures accuracy for all types of visitors since the content doesn’t have to be manually typed in.
  • Reporting: The visitor information is stored in a computer database, which allows the ability to search, sort, analyze, and retrieve data. Working with a database lets you spot trends or pinpoint the whereabouts of any visitor at any particular time. 
  • Speed of processing visitors: Productivity is improved with an electronic visitor management system. A driver’s license reader or business card scanner will shorten the time it takes to sign a visitor in. A quick scan of either card is all it takes to collect the necessary information to record their visit to the facility. Typing or hand-writing all that information would take much longer. 
  • Pre-registration of visitors: If you know a particular visitor or group of visitors are coming in for a meeting, their information can be added to the system ahead of time. This process allows visitors to sign-in quickly and eliminates lobby lines.
  • Enhance company image: A professional VMS shows that your facility is serious about security. A VMS can easily print a badge (sometimes in color, depending on the printer being used) that is clean, easily read, and projects professionalism. A speedy, streamlined visitor sign-in process also communicates to your visitors that their time is valuable and won’t be wasted.
  • Add a photo: If a camera is in use, a photo can be added to the visitor badge for further identification while the visitor is in the facility. Electronic visitor management system photos can also be used in investigating security breaches, even used to compare with security camera footage to further identify any person. 
  • Control emergency response: In the instance of an evacuation or other emergency, reports can be printed with the touch of a button. This lets you know all non-employees on the premises and can be passed to Fire/Police personnel so they know who is still in the building.


Here is a list of CON’s to having an electronic visitor management system…

  • High cost: Electronic visitor management systems come with a higher expense than their manual counterparts. They both require badges. However, the electronic visitor management system needs at least software and a printer to function. Additional items such as cameras, driver’s license readers, and business card scanners only add to the expense. In addition, there may be annual fees for using certain functionality or hardware.
  • Training of security personnel, building staff, and visitors: Instructing visitors to fill out a manual sign-in book isn’t too hard. However, learning how to operate a software program is a little more complex. Setting up the entire system and training staff is a time consuming exercise that you wouldn’t have to do with a manual sign-in system. 
  • More pieces to malfunction (hardware, software): Occasionally electronic visitor management systems go down. They are complicated tools that aren’t immune to outages. A piece of the hardware may break. The software may contain a bug or virus that slows it’s productivity or stops it from working all together. When there are many electronic components in use, there is a greater chance that one of those parts may break.
  • Possible need for technical support: As mentioned in the previous bullet, occasionally electronic visitor management systems go down. Odds are there isn’t anyone in your office who specializes in fixing a VMS software issue. That means you’ll need to contact VMS support to get your issue addressed. A manual sign-in book wouldn’t ever require technical support.
  • Visitor’s information privacy/security in question: Visitor data is sensitive information. If a visitor’s driver’s license is scanned, their identity can be stolen if the data isn’t protected. Cloud storage must be encrypted. Data must be backed up as well. The facility is liable for protecting the information obtained from visitors.


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Posted on 3/17/2015

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