Hundreds, if not thousands, of visitors pay visits to premises like offices, hospitals, construction sites, and schools on a daily basis, making it difficult for such institutions to keep track of everyone. As a result, a lot of companies these days are aiming to move from traditional register-based records to digital platforms to monitor such visits. Visitor management systems are digital systems specially designed to ensure the safety and security of employees by managing workplace visitors.
What is visitor management?
Visitor management is the process of tracking and managing people who enter and exit a building on any given day and can include protocols such as visitor information logging, biometric verification, badge printing, etc. These systems electronically record and monitor basic information about visitors, enhance the security of the staff and the visitor, provide tools that track guest entries, and notify stakeholders about the dates and times of such visits.
Types of visitor management systems
Visitor management software is rapidly becoming a common method of managing visitors at sites and workplaces. According to research conducted by ResearchAndMarkets.com, the global visitor management system market is expected to grow from US$1.1 billion to US$2.3 billion by 2026. Several reasons are driving this expansion, including greater awareness of security risks, the demand for paperless administration, and the growing requirement to store acquired visitor data in accordance with legal requirements. There are essentially two types of visitor management systems to choose from:
On-premise visitor management
In comparison to its pen and paper counterpart, on-premise software is an advancement towards a digital repository of visitor data. To use on-premise software, companies must acquire a licence or a copy of the software. Contrary to cloud-based systems which are hosted in the cloud, on-premise software runs on local networks like local area network (LAN) and wide area network (WAN) and stores data and applications on the organisation’s computer. As a result, they offer greater security because the chances of data breaches are lower when data is stored in internal servers.
Cloud-based visitor management
In this type of system, the data gathered is securely hosted in the cloud and can be accessed anywhere by people on the other side of the screen through a synchronized interface. This type of software also potentially involves less maintenance, since system upgrades may be handled remotely by the provider. Moreover, some cloud-based visitor management solutions facilitate integration with third-party platforms —such as customer relationship management software (CRM software) or marketing tools— to streamline processes and sync data.
Advantages of a visitor management system
These systems were created with the goal of removing the issues that a business may experience while accepting entries into physical registers. A sophisticated system comes with myriad benefits, five of which are listed below:
1. Smooth sign-ins and registrations:
Whenever a person visits a site, a visitor management system collects and processes their personal information which can then be synchronised with database systems. Visitors can simply feed their information into desktops or tablets (also called self-service kiosks), proceed with a contactless entry, and even register remotely in some cases. This not only makes the process of welcoming a visitor smoother, it also leaves a good impression and enhances the brand reputation, especially during the pandemic, when safety concerns are paramount.
2. Enhanced security:
Staff security, data privacy, and compliance-related problems are some of the issues that a visitor management system aims to solve. Even when a visitor leaves the premises, they can be easily identified and traced in the future, if required. Moreover, some systems can also match the government ID provided at the time of registration with government records to stop a potential threat from entering the site. Such systems may also help restrict visitor access to certain sections of the office building, thereby adding an extra layer of security.
3. Instant notifications:
Whenever a visitor enters the premises, some visitor management systems have the capability to send a confirmation to the receiver to let them know their guest has arrived and provide any additional information. These notifications might be in the form of an email, in-app notification, or SMS. In addition, hosts may also be able to send visitors crucial information about the exact location and time of the meeting or raise an emergency alarm, in case of unwanted visitors.
4. Compliance management:
The Privacy Act 1988 in Australia restricts companies from misusing visitors’ personal data. This covers both the federal government and the commercial sector’s acquisition, consumption, storage, and exposure of personal information and requires organisations to ensure strict compliance with the law. To meet these norms, companies should collect visitor information cautiously in their systems to prevent abuse of data, and visitor management systems help facilitate this by keeping visitor data secure, in line with legal requirements. Having a digital repository of data also prevents visitors from glancing at other visitors’ personal information in physical registers and ledgers, thereby reducing the possibility of data breaches.
5. Visitor badge creation:
Another helpful aspect of some visitor management systems is the production and printing of visitor badges. Scanning visitor IDs and creating custom tags to provide access to specific areas is a useful feature of such systems. Some of these visitor badges have custom fields and come with a bar code or QR code to check their validity and authenticity. Physical visitor badges also ensure that unauthorised visitors do not enter the premises.
The future of visitor management systems
In the times of the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies around the globe are working on a hybrid work model. As such, companies are having to reconsider their previously implemented security protocols for all workers and visitors entering and departing the premises. A visitor management system provides a detailed picture of who is on the premises at any given time and enforces visitor restrictions. It also helps the company track people who have visited their sites in a given time period, thereby helping conduct contact tracing if a positive COVID-19 case is detected, making it a fairly useful solution.