Customers continuously ask us, “What is the return on investment (ROI) of a Visitor Management System (VMS)?’. The objective answer is that it depends on the company’s unique requirements and visitor management objectives. A generic ROI template would not provide a full picture. But that does not stop management teams and procurement from asking for a clear ROI on the project, even when the majority of the benefits are intangible or preventative in nature. So, the question becomes: how do you accurately measure the impact?
What is the impact of having a VMS?
Rather than asking what is the impact of the intangible benefits, what should rather be asked is, what would it cost not having one? What is the cost of maintaining multiple disparate systems compared to having it all automated from one central cloud-based visitor management system?
The most common reasons for companies to purchase a VMS are cost saving, meeting compliance demands and upgrading legacy security systems.
Where do I start with my ROI?
Organizations’ visitor management requirements vary greatly, depending on industry type and operation size. For a chemical plant or refinery, having compliance procedures in place is essential while a tech firm with an open campus might simply want unmanned sign-in stations visitors can use to register and sign NDAs.
- Immediate savings - outline quantifiable savings benefits such as administrative cost savings, headcount reduction, audit preparation in terms of savings in labor hours, translated into the cost of work.
- Long term impact – risk reduction that can be quantified in terms of compliance violation penalties
- Supporting resources – is there a cost to specialized IT or facility resources that support existing systems across multiple locations? Is there a high number of support tickets associated with legacy systems?
Once quantifiable benefits are captured, make sure to align non-quantifiable process improvements or efficiencies and align them with your organizational goals.
Make sure that the full investment into the initiative is understood.
This may include a specific license level that includes your organization’s must-haves or API access. The level of onboarding, support and project implementation services and any costs associated with it. Any hardware required for the project implementation. Any additional modules or functionalities – such as scanners, badge printers, parking management or watchlists integrations.
A VMS vendor should be able to provide a clear outline of the yearly investment as part of the project proposal.
Major benefits of a Visitor Management System include:
- Reduction in administrative costs
- Operational efficiencies
- Reduction of visitor security risks
- Access to centralized visitor data
Measuring these benefits is the first step towards calculating your ROI.
1. Administrative cost reduction
(# of monthly visitors) x (manual check-in & data entry time in hours) x (work days in a month) x (hourly pay rate) x (#of locations)
Eg. 100 x 0.1hr x 22 x $15 x 3 = $9,900/month
3 locations with a receptionist in each location earning $15/hour, with 100 visitors/month, taking up 6 minutes/check-in will save $3,300/month per location or $9,900/month across the company.
A visitor management system takes the manual processes associated with visitor sign-in tasks and automates them. These include pre-registration, data entry, issuing visitor badges, notifying hosts, digitally signing documents, to name but an essential few.
Visitor information and forms previously filled out are remembered on follow-up visits, which result in sign-in times being reduced even further. High volume guest registrations can be managed easily by scanning pre-generated QR-Codes.
Visitor data is centralized and integrated into other systems, reducing manual data capture, data processing and audit preparation times.
The cost of time spent collating and compiling reports from guest data – potentially having to employ the services of an expensive third-party service - is redundant as all data is consolidated and downloadable from a single platform.
2. Operational efficiencies
“Human interactions and data capture are the most time-consuming business processes. Data entry/selection and decision making are most sensitive to errors.”
Visitor protocols can be standardized to industry or location compliance requirements and customized to the unique needs of a specific facility. This rules out any gaps in conforming to policy-aligned practices implemented to deal with specific classes of visitors.
With only 10 visitors/day, 220 visitors/month, an hour of work is taken away from other business-critical functions each day.
This amounts to:
That comes to a total of 30 working days a year spent on assisting visitors sign in, tracking down hosts, filing documentation and issuing visitor badges if your business is not using a VMS.
Having verified visitor records prevent contractors from submitting incorrect time sheets for services rendered.
3. The cost of non-compliance
Increasingly, customers are faced with ever-changing regulatory compliance around visitor management.
- The newest California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), coming into effect Jan 1, 2020, will incur fines of $2,500 per infraction of unauthorized use of customers’ confidential information.
- This new privacy protection legislation is similar to the EU’s GDPR that has fines of up to €4 million or 20% of annual turnover, whichever is higher.
- ITAR - $1 million/10 years in prison
- PCI DSS – Up to $100,000/month
- FSMA – Court actions, seizures, suspension of facility’s food registration
- $3.86 million – Global Average cost of a data breach, $1 million – amount saved if companies contain a breach within 30 days.
How does VMS address compliance requirements?
- VMS automates privacy permissions protocols and offers local data hosting, in accordance with regional laws.
- Incorporating custom badges in visitor management protocols as part of the check-in process creates consistency around visual visitor identification, satisfying regulatory requirements for ITAR, PCI DSS, FSMA and C-TPAT.
- Proactive visitor identification is enabled by scanning guests against custom and third-party watchlists, preventing unwanted persons from entering facilities.
- Emergency preparedness - real-time log of all signed-in guests during emergency evacuations drastically reduces the chances of companies held liable.
- Legal documents - The costs of penalties and legal fees incurred for getting sued can be significant when a clerical oversight happens or legal documents are misplaced. Electronically signed waivers, H&S protocols and other legal documents are signed on entry and stored on a central cloud-based location
- Data collected of guests in the form of visitor logs are evidence that visitor policies and risk assessment procedures had been carried out as defined by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). Downloadable data from VMS qualifies as audit-ready records.
“The ability to save visitors logs ensure we maintain our PCI compliance and our office security.”
4. Supporting Resources
Outdated Legacy Systems
“Businesses spend as much as 80% of their IT budgets on supporting legacy applications.”
A standardized SaaS cloud system eliminates the costs of hardware updates and IT support costs compared to a legacy system.
Deploying changes to security procedures are labor intensive and slow. With a VMS, protocols are hosted as replicable journeys on a centralized platform. They are designed and implemented by administrators with first-hand knowledge and access to the newest policy standards – all done remotely.
5. Preserving company value
Data and business intelligence around facility operations and contractor logistics.
With a VMS, you will know more about your visitors and facility usage than ever before. The Who, Where, When, Why and How of visitor activity is accessible at any time.
An increase in the quality, accuracy and volume of data centralized across multiple locations allows companies to spot trends and analyze patterns in visitor traffic. This leads to an increased ability for capacity and resource planning.
6. Brand perception
Companies invest millions of dollars into managing their brand perception online. When potential employees, investors, partners or local community visit a corporate facility, their impression of the brand is either strengthened or destroyed. A company claiming innovation as its value using paper logs at check-in diminishes their brand perception of a leading edge.
“It makes us look like a progressive company with some tech savvy, instead of signing in guests on a clipboard and looking like we’re stuck in the 1980s.”
VMS offers many possibilities to strengthen brand perception throughout visitor experience – before, during and after their visit. Branded invitations with maps, directions, host information and legal documents can be sent ahead of the visit. Gate check-in can be expedited with ID scanners, transferring the information before a visitor hits the lobby. Check-in experiences can be personalized to the visitor type with a video introduction, statement of values and on-brand login screen design.
Brand perception extends to having good privacy policies, dictating how personal information is handled. The process of being presented with waivers and personal information usage agreements at sign-in is evidence of awareness of its wider repercussions. Companies show that they go that extra mile to protect information and ensure a visitor’s anonymity. Establishing trust is key to customer relationship management. In our hyper-connected world, being branded as non-compliant to privacy regulations could cause irreparable reputational damage.
Before you finalize your decision, it’s important you fully understand the costs involved. We will focus solely on Software as a Service (SaaS) for this article; where the tangible costs of hardware management, IT backups, upgrades, and software infrastructure are covered by the VMS service provider and therefore not the responsibility of the buyer (as they are with on-premise solutions).
Align license level with your requirements
Ensure that license fees include all must-haves on your requirement lists, or if additional charges are being added. Sometimes the costs of SMS, text and email notifications as well as other add-ons. If you have specific data residency or data ownership requirements like single tenant set-up, are there costs associated with that? Make sure you ask providers to outline costs. Also, think of any potential use cases that could benefit from the project. Are there visitor centers, additional locations or on-site events that would benefit from centralized visitor tracking?
Consider how much time it will take to introduce and roll out a visitor management system. Establish the support mechanisms the VMS vendor has to provide to ensure your success. Are onboarding and training included in the level of license? What levels of support are included? Do they satisfy your organization’s SLA requirements? Is there an on-demand training knowledge base and is support documentation available? Is there a customer success team and a well-documented project plan?
Ask your VMS provider to share a project plan and ask which steps typically take the longest to complete. This will allow you to set expectations and get the right people involved before even getting started.
Some vendors limit support access based on the package you purchase. Consider the degree of assistance your team will need before you choose a price tier. If you believe you’ll need access to phone, chat and email, make sure that you budget for the tier that includes those options.
A VMS typically requires a stand, printer, and iPad (or tablet) to run. Entry level hardware will come to a combined cost of around $700 USD.
Download "The Evolution of Visitor Management Report" for a comprehensive overview of how VMS technology impacts an organization’s security, efficiency, data richness, and brand perception.