A visitor management system is a system designed to help manage the flow of visitors. Modern visitor management is usually carried out via digital means, using software and interactive kiosks, but they can be as simple as a pen and paper log.
The primary purpose of a visitor management system depends heavily on the needs of the organization deploying it. For example, large corporations require advanced visitor management systems that offer greater functionality, such as kiosks with integrated printers for visitor badges, virtual concierge software, and building access management. Smaller organizations, such as elementary schools, may only need a simple counter-mounted tablet to allow parents and guardians to check students in and out of the building securely.
At their simplest, visitor management systems are important as they allow businesses to keep track of who is in the building at any given time. Paper logs do this buy requiring visitors to sign in when they arrive and sign out when they depart. Advanced visitor management kiosks go beyond the basics with software that can capture visitor photos and print them directly onto temporary badges, and add access controls so that the badges must be scanned in order for visitors to enter certain areas of a building or campus. For organizations with greater security needs, these extra layers of protection are crucial as it helps keep both employees and intellectual property safe.
Beyond security, these systems also help organizations like museums understand their own facility management needs better. For example, knowing which areas of the building generate the most interest from visitors can help them better identify potential staffing needs in high-traffic exhibit halls, or learn which types of displays are most popular so that they can create similar content in the future.
As mentioned previously, visitor management systems range from very simple to incredibly complex, but as long as everyone follows the system, almost anything can work.
Here are a few of the features and benefits that make up an effective visitor management system:
Whether it is via pen or paper or computer system, visitors should be able to quickly and easily input their information and be on their way without much hassle. Essentially, anyone should be able to use the system without training or prior knowledge.
The key component of any visitor management system is the ability to keep an accurate record of who has entered the building or premises. Visitor logs should be kept and saved for set periods of time in order to keep staff informed regarding who has or hasn’t left the premises.
Visitor management systems can be equipped with the ability to send electronic notifications via email or text. These notifications may be intended for any number of purposes: informing security or receptionists that a new visitor has arrived, alerting employees that they have a guest, or to communicate emergency information to anyone on the premises, including fires, security threats, or severe weather information.
Companies that handle sensitive data or intellectual property often require additional security measures to be put in place so that certain classes of visitors are under a binding legal agreement during their visit, such as a non-disclosure agreement (NDA). Visitor management systems can seamlessly integrate the signing of these documents during the check-in process, simplifying the process and creating a digital record of the agreement for both parties.
Visitor badge generation and printing can be another useful feature of visitor management systems. Badges provide a clear way for staff to identify visitors, and can be as simple as a name tag, or more complex, including a visitor photo, e-signature, and scannable building access codes to limit movement or allow access to areas that may house sensitive information.
Companies with greater-than-average security needs can integrate their visitor management kiosk system with features that create even more layers of protection, like biometrics. Fingerprint scanners and retina scanners are two types of biometrics that are commonly integrated into these kiosks for added security.
It's important to know that the visitor management system selected will properly integrate with other systems, including security systems, databases/record-keeping software, and operating systems to avoid problems post-installation.
The COVID-19 pandemic has made visitor management more important than ever when it comes to keeping visitors and staff safe. Visitor management systems can be integrated with touchless temperature scanning and monitoring software and hardware in order to track or limit access to those displaying or reporting COVID-19 symptoms.
The primary benefit of a digital visitor management system is to alleviate the need to manually register and track visitors. The system should simplify the process for both visitors and staff.
How to Choose the Best Visitor Management Solution
Choosing the right solution can seem complicated, but it can be simplified when you know exactly what you need your visitor management system to do, and then balance that with any necessary budget constraints. Below are some things to consider before purchasing a system:
Digital visitor management systems are commonplace in many successful businesses today, and with their benefits, it’s not hard to see why. They provide a streamlined means of tracking new visitors and employees and above all, keep them safe while on your organization's premises.