|  5 min read

How to choose a visitor management system

How to choose a visitor management system Photo

With 92% of professionals stating that physical security is of greater strategic importance than ever before, a visitor management system has become essential for businesses everywhere.

A visitor management system allows you to sign visitors, contractors and employees in and out as well as know who’s on premise at all times. In the event of a fire drill, an evacuation, or the need for an audit log for compliance reasons (like ITAR), you can ensure all personnel coming in and out of the facility are accounted for.

The visitor management solutions range from the lobby sign-in point solutions, to integrated access control elements to enterprise visitor management platforms, how do you choose the visitor management system that’s best for you? 
Before you start shortlisting visitor management system vendors – or reevaluating your current system – ensure you take the time to identify and map out your business requirements. This should include near term goals as well as mid-term planning for office locations, compliance attestations and any future acquisition plans. Take the time to build the use cases around the immediate need for the solution (eg. tracking visitor sign-ins) as well as other departmental needs (legal, health and safety, HR, facilities, IT). Once those needs are identified, prioritize what features your visitor management system would need to tick all those checkboxes. Here’s what you need to be considering.

Visitor management features

Whether you’re thinking of implementing a visitor management system throughout multiple facilities of your global operations or starting off with just a couple of iPads in the reception area of your HQ, you’ll need to understand what features you need for different aspects of the experience. We’ve broken down each use case according to features so you can choose the visitor management system provider that best meets your organization’s needs.

Visitor Experience
  • Pre-register with email invites
  • Outlook invite integration
  • Securely sign and upload legal documents pre-visit
  • Store and recall first sign-in visitor data
  • Digitally sign documents at check-in (Waivers, Nondisclosure Agreements, Legal Documents, H&S)
  • Stream Videos (Onboarding videos, site orientation, safety videos)
  • Customizable ID badge printing with visitor image
  • Multiple language options
  • QR-Code easy check-in
  • Temporary WIFI login credentials

Admin / Host Experience
  • Central administration system
  • Custom badge and email design
  • Experience Editor UI
  • Arrival and reminder alert notification scheduling
  • Watchlist integration with conditional workflows
  • Flagged visitor categories
  • Customizable branding (Sign-in interface, emails, notifications)
  • Visual/facial identification and matching
  • Pre-registration guest lists
  • Search and download visitor history records
  • Configure user system permissions (Admins and Hosts)
  • Software Integrations (Salesforce, Slack, Active Directory, Google Drive, Outlook, et al.)
  • Emergency guest checklists
  • Pre-assigned/on-site parking stalls
  • High volume, airport-grade ID scanning

Implementation considerations

Work with a visitor management system provider that can help you discover more about your product and collaborate with you to best optimize your service for your business goals/objectives. Your choice of visitor management system should help you meet the unique requirements of your business.

Compliance
  • Comply with PCI DSS, GMP, ITAR, GDPR, FSMA and more
  • Watchlist integration: Visual Compliance, ITA, FinScan, Contractor Compliance and more
  • Download detailed visitor records for any company location
  • Real-time audit-readiness
  • Push data directly to compliance partners
  • Standardize protocols to visitor categories
  • Integrate with existing security processes
  • Localized data residency
  • Time-sensitive data retention

Financial Cost
  • What is the software licensing cost?
  • What is the variable cost per employee or visit?
  • What is the hardware cost?
  • What is the implementation cost?
  • What is the post implementation cost?
  • What are additional software integration costs?
  • Cost for 24/7 customer support?
  • Cost for transitioning from a legacy system to a VMS?
  • What is the data hosting cost?
  • What is the Text/SMS notification cost?

Support & Services
  • Are there any consulting and professional services?
  • What training is available?
  • Is there a dedicated customer success manager? Paid or non-paid?
  • Is there Live Chat access?
  • Is there email support?
  • Remote system diagnostic capability?
  • FAQ database and instruction pages/videos?
  • Dedicated Account Executive for enterprise?

System Security
  • SOC 2 attestation
  • Infrastructure host and management
  • Local data residency
  • Data Protection Officer and Dev Opps
  • Annual third-party penetration tests
  • Additional firewall protection
  • Safe data migration

Vendor Profile
  • Do your values align with those of the vendor?
  • Positive unaided software review ratings?
  • An informative and easy to navigate website?
  • Credible and active social media presence?
  • Expanding features and add-ons releases?

System integrations

A visitor management system relies strongly on how easily it can connect to software applications already active in your company’s operational ecosystem. The system should be able to effortlessly capture data and push it to the digital partners’ software. Here are some examples of what system integrations can be most useful for your visitor operations needs:

  • Salesforce – allowing you to manage visitors by sales leads or customer contacts.
  • Google Drive – store your visitor’s digitally signed legal documents in the ‘king of clouds’ for easy, rapid access.
  • DocuSign – capture a visitor’s signature on formal documentation in a confidential manner, during the sign-in process.
  • Eventbrite – allow visitors to check-in, in tandem, with their Eventbrite-organized event.
  • Slack – keep your employees aware of the exact moment their guest checks in, by tying their arrival into Slack’s automatic office IM capabilities.
  • Visual Compliance/ITA/Contractor Compliance/FinScan – run guests’ verified identities against sanctioned watchlists and prevent high-risk individuals from entering company premises.

Branding and customizations

A visitor management system is one of the first points of contact for partners, job applicants, vendors, media, and investors with your company and thus should be fully aligned with your brand and leveraged as an opportunity to strengthen your brand’s impact.

  • Guest invitations, pre-registration forms, check in experience and other visitor operations features should be customized to reflect the brand and built to improve the efficiency of the visit and overall experience with your company.
  • Look for a visitor management system that allows you to configure language, welcome screen, full branding including colors and images, media, visitor journey steps to the needs of specific regions, locations, and facility types.
  • Brand updates are a reality for every organization, whether they are on a company-wide or project-based level. With a cloud-based visitor management system, you can easily change up logos, messaging, taglines, and corporate verbiage, in real time.
  • Keeping historical data from your visitors firmly in place while still being able to make changes to your account’s look and feel. WIFI out? No problem. Visitors should still be able to sign in to facilities with their data syncing to the system once the device comes back online.

The support you want, whenever you need it

As discussed in “Why your facility needs a Visitor Management System Today”, on-paper sign-ins no longer provide the security and safety that today’s modern businesses require. More than that, they limit the ability of companies to leverage key data-, archival- and information-based features for managing their guests. But if you’re going to adopt a cloud-based visitor management system, then you need to ensure that there is a robust support team behind-the-scenes.

Don’t get caught off guard, make sure you have an open line of communication with your off-site support team. Don’t partner with anyone that can’t back up their product with a high level of verified service excellence.

Ultimately, it’s important to partner with a visitor management system provider that sees you not as a numbered client, but as a unique customer – with your set of individual needs and wants.