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Preparing VMS for a multi-site rollout

Preparing VMS for a multi-site rollout Photo

Visitor management systems (VMS) are often implemented to solve a pressing problem at a specific site within an enterprise. This means that VMS at different locations within the same enterprise are often uniquely configured. This often leads to a tension: efficiencies are driven at individual sites, but overall impact across an organization suffers due to a lack of consistency. 

Here’s how this dynamic often plays out:

A department encounters an issue that it can’t ignore at one site. This could be an overwhelming manual process, a distressing compliance audit or a physical security incident. Whatever the issue, the need for a secure and reliable automated solution becomes apparent. The team evaluates VMS options, chooses one and configures the system to elegantly handle the problem. 

Then two things occur:

  • Other departments realize that they have a stake in the system
  • VMS adoption expands throughout the enterprise, but through local implementations without consideration of corporate impact

The first means that VMS owners spend a lot of time accommodating new stakeholders as requests for features roll in from all directions. The second means that many sites create workflows and feature sets uniquely suited to their situations, making later attempts to standardize incredibly time-intensive.

These are the pains that come as VMS scales throughout the enterprise. The good news is that these pains can be anticipated and avoided with smart actions that start on the very first implementation. 

In this article, we’ll walk through these problems in detail, describe the best practices involved in preparing VMS to scale throughout the organization, and explain how Traction Guest support and adoption services can ensure an enterprise VMS implementation starts off on the right foot.

Challenge #1:

More departments have a stake in VMS than first appear

VMS sits at the nexus of several departments. Security, IT, legal, facilities, and more each have a stake in VMS functionality. While VMS is often first sought by security departments, the software isn’t merely a security solution. Its versatility means that it can satisfy the priorities of several groups at once. 

For instance:

  • Security may use the VMS to fulfill badging requirements and identify restricted persons
  • Legal may use it to ensure non-disclosure agreements and liability waivers are signed
  • IT may use it to streamline processes by integrating it into existing tools and workflows

We’ve written in depth about the various stakeholders and their interests before.

The point is: When a department first implements VMS, it often prioritizes configuration to solve its own needs without realizing other departments will soon be making requests. This understandable oversight leads to hours of back-and-forth communication, feature adjustment and patchwork reconfiguration down the road.

Challenge #2:

Local focus ≠ optimal when VMS scales

Once VMS is up and running at one site, people from other sites eventually learn about it. Impressed by the elegant interface and time-saving potential, they invariably initiate implementations of their own. This see-and-adopt dynamic repeats and VMS use organically grows throughout the enterprise.

Eventually, a tipping point occurs. 

Once VMS becomes widespread in one facility, region, or enterprise, a push to standardize certain elements like branding, security processes, compliance elements, or crucial aspects of the guest experience begins. It then becomes a major undertaking to reconfigure each existing VMS implementation while still accounting for site-specific needs and stakeholders.

A better approach: Set the stage for scale at the start

The key to avoiding these challenges is to look beyond local use cases and proactively account for the needs of various stakeholders and the corporate impact of the system from the beginning. In other words, approach the initial implementation as a foundation for standardization and scale.

At Traction Guest, we’ve designed our support and adoption services to help customers address enterprise-level needs from their very first deployment, even if that deployment relates to a single site with a single use case. We’ve distilled our experience into actions that plant the seeds for smooth long-term implementation and scale. Here are three:

  • Appoint an internal VMS champion and identify a group of key stakeholders
  • Develop a forward-looking feature set based on your core use and stakeholder use cases
  • Create a VMS Centre of Excellence and a vision for long-term implementation

Appoint an internal VMS champion

The internal VMS champion usually comes from the team initiating the first implementation within the enterprise. This individual proactively identifies stakeholders, informs them about VMS benefits and accounts for their priorities in the visitor experience. 

At Traction Guest, our award-winning support team works closely with this champion to get input that shapes configuration in a way that’s conducive to smooth adoption. That input comes from questions such as:

  • What do different departments need to know about visitors at this site and others?
  • What documents need to be signed by visitors?
  • What compliance requirements does the organization have?
  • What is the process for inviting guests?
  • What is the ideal visitor experience upon arrival?

By posing these questions and others to stakeholders, the internal champion builds support for the implementation, ensures key features are included at the outset and saves time down the line.

Develop a forward-looking feature set

The internal champion and Traction Guest’s adoption team work together to ensure that a set of high-impact features aren’t overlooked. This set is designed to provide functionality that we know various stakeholders find extremely valuable — even if they don’t know it yet themselves.

Some of these high-impact features include:

Watchlists: Watchlists enable users to automatically cross-reference visitors against internal and external lists of restricted individuals. This functionality provides an additional, automated layer of security and helps to satisfy compliance requirements. Read more on watchlists here.

Permission bundles:Permission bundles allow administrators to customize exactly who in the organization gets access to specific features and data. By creating and assigning permission bundles, an administrator can provide specific users with the ability to use, access or customize features and information pertinent to their site and work. Read more on permission bundles here.

Integrations:Integrations support adoption by inserting tasks into existing user workflows and tools. For instance, with an Outlook integration, users can send customized invitations directly from their Outlook interface. A Salesforce integration enables visitor data to inform contacts, leads, opportunities, accounts and campaign fields in sales and marketing CRM software. Read more on integrations here.

Setting these up according to best practices not only supports adoption, but ensures that the organization is prepared to leverage VMS functionality to its fullest degree from the very start.

Create a VMS Centre of Excellence

Expanding VMS throughout a facility, region or enterprise is done most effectively when decisions are made at high levels with alignment among VMS stakeholders. Whatever the scale, assembling a management group to oversee implementation and design a vision for the system will help ensure that the VMS provides maximum security, compliance and branding value. We call this group the VMS Centre of Excellence.

The VMS Centre of Excellence should collaborate to determine:

  • how to effectively communicate system and process details to users
  • what documentation is required for legal, security and compliance purposes
  • how user training programs will be conducted
  • what elements need standardization across the enterprise
  • what elements should be adjusted at local levels.

Traction Guest’s support and adoption teams know the most important questions to ask and can help inform the development and execution of VMS Centre of Excellence activities.

Anticipate challenges, employ pre-emptive solutions and enjoy smooth VMS expansion

Begin with the end in mind, so the saying goes. Addressing potential stakeholder and scale challenges when first deploying a VMS solution will put your enterprise on the road to smooth adoption and maximum VMS utility.

If you’re undertaking an implementation, Traction Guest’s teams would love the opportunity to be a partner in the process.