There is no question that the days of paper logins and handwritten name badges are coming to an end. The advantages of electronic visitor management systems have made these outdated methods obsolete, dramatically boosting building security, increasing staff efficiency, and improving record keeping. However, with a number of these systems on the market today, how can you select the right product for your school?
In general, there are two types of visitor management systems available today: 1) The self-serve kiosk version and; 2) Assisted software-only solutions that are driven by your staff.
Start with a Needs Assessment
Like most products, a visitor management system should be selected based on the needs of your facility. While all schools have similar needs when it comes to keeping students and staff safe, and making visitor management more efficient, there is no “one size fits all” solution. Determining your specific requirements is the first step in the process.
First, its important to understand what type of visitors come to your facility and how they interact with your staff. Then determine what elements are essential for your school. Some questions to consider:
- How do we currently admit visitors? Where are the bottlenecks or problems with this system?
- How many visitors do we handle in a typical day?
- How many front desk staff do we have? How busy are they? Would a self-service kiosk save our staff time and free them up to do other tasks?
- Do we want a system that quickly and easily scans a visitor’s ID, instantly confirming that they are who they say they are, as well as checking their identity against national registered sex offender lists?
- Do we need a system that compares identities to school records to protect against custody issues and other banned individuals?
- Is it necessary to have different badge templates by category of visitor?
- Is it important to create electronic records that are accessible on or off-site in case of an emergency or evacuation?
- Do we want the system to print badges with a photo, date and time?
- Would an electronic visitor management system help us adhere to our school’s policies and procedures for handling visitors?
- Do we want to send a message to parents, staff and the community that our school takes safety seriously?
- Would an automated visitor system help our record-keeping process by importing data into our Student Information System?
- Do we want the convenience of mobile apps or frequent visitor keytags?
- Do we have existing hardware that can be used with visitor management software, or do we need a complete system?
- Can we use grant money set aside for school security to help pay for an automated visitor management system? (Read “Use Grant Money to Boost Security with a Visitor Management System”)
Overall, what do you want the visitor experience to be like? And, what impression do you want the system to leave on the visitor?
Research the Options
Once you’ve determined what features you want, you can begin researching options. There may not be a system that offers every feature you’re looking for, so it’s important to prioritize the functions you want. When researching vendors, some important things to consider include:
- Do they begin the consultation by asking for your “wish list” and take the time to learn about your specific needs?
- Do they offer a free consultation and product demonstration?
- Is the system easy to install and user friendly?
- Can the system be customized to meet your needs?
- Do they provide training for your staff and continued support?
- How do they handle future upgrades in technology?
- How long has the system been on the market? Is it tested and approved?
- Can they provide references from other schools who are using the system?
Consider an Industry Leader
If you’re wondering where to start your search, consider LobbyGuard, a leader in visitor management and front office automation systems. LobbyGuard software and products are designed to increase building security and reduce workload on front desk personnel by using the self-service convenience of kiosk and smartphone-based applications. Visitors can be checked and tracked through the LobbyGuard visitor management system, resulting in a safer and more efficient school environment.
Our products, which are installed in public and private schools around the U.S. (along with a wide variety of corporations, hospitals, entertainment venues and government facilities) offer the flexibility to fit your specific requirements and budget. LobbyGuard products include all-in-one kiosk solutions, software that can be installed on your existing hardware, and mobile apps for smartphones and tablets. All our products include web-access to visitor records, reports and configuration settings, as well as no-cost instant background checks and unlimited data storage on the LobbyGuard Cloud Services platform.
To learn more about LobbyGuard and hear what schools around the country have to say about our electronic visitor management systems, visit lobbyguard.com or call 866-905-6229 for a free consultation and product demonstration.