There are many visitor management systems, each offering different levels of features and integrations. At the very least, an electronic visitor management system captures the visitor name and host, takes a picture of the visitor, prints a visitor badge, and sends notification of visitor arrival to the host. Below is a list of the common and more advanced features and integrations that should be reviewed to ensure you purchase the solution that meets the needs of your organization.
Scan Government Issued ID – ability to capture visitor information by scanning a government issued ID, such as a driver’s license or passport to eliminate manual data entry of visitor data.
Agreements – presenting a document for visitors signature, such as a company policy or non-disclosure agreement. More advanced systems can also track the expiration of the agreements and alert when a visitor has to renew the agreement.
Pre-Registration – the ability for employees to pre-register their visitors via a web page. More advanced systems allow for the visitors to pre-register themselves and have an approval process for pre-registered visitors.
Internal Watch Lists – screening a visitor against an internal watch list – otherwise known as a BOLO (be on the lookout). The organization can add people that require attention – whether it be good attention, a VIP visitor, or bad attention, an unwanted visitor.
Reporting – The type and number of reports will vary depending on the type of visitor management system. Some systems offer a few standard reports, others offer more standard reports and the ability to create custom reports, and run activity and audit logs.
Kiosks – for visitor self-sign-in. The software runs in a kiosk mode on any kiosk form – laptops, tablets, PC’s, or a custom-built standing kiosk.
Access Control Integration – this gives visitors access to specific areas in the building via the access control system. With the access control system integration, you capture visitor information and access level in the visitor management system and seamlessly pass the information to the access control system. This way, you don’t have to ask the visitor to repeat the process at security to get their access card. The visitor badge can be printed with a bar code or QR code that can be scanned to gain access via the access system.
External Watch List Integration – screens visitors against government watch lists and sex offender registries. For example, schools and children’s hospitals benefit from screening visitors against sex offender registries. Companies that deal with international shipping or banking benefit from screening against the Government Denied Parties list from Visual Compliance or MK Data.
Property and Delivery Management – ability to log in and log out deliveries & packages and personal & company property for accountability and tracking reports.
Non-Proprietary Database – more advanced systems offer a choice of working with the internal default database or a SQL database, such as MS SQL Server or Oracle.
User Roles – the ability to restrict access to specific screens & features of the visitor management system. Some systems simply offer Administrator and Operator roles. Advanced systems let you define as many roles as you need and who has access to which features.
Multiple Visitor Types – basic systems are usually just for visitors. There is no capability to differentiate a visitor from a contractor, vendor, spouse, temp, ex-employee or any other specified category needed. More advanced systems are policy-based, meaning that they can act differently for each visitor type. The system can present a different screen to a contractor vs a visitor, print different badges and follow different policies for documents and other system features.
Enterprise Systems – this is for an organization that has many locations, sometimes in multiple countries. They include the ability to partition the system so that each location accesses only the information specific for that location.
Directory Link – to confirm the Host is a Valid Employee – the most advanced systems have a direct link to the host listing/database that confirms the host is indeed an employee and is allowed visitors.
Notifications – in addition to the notification to the host that a visitor is on-site, advanced systems includes many different alerts, including someone on the watch list is onsite, notification of matches to the external watch lists, a visitor has overstayed their visit, pre-registration confirmations, and evacuation reports to administrators.
Badge Customization – advanced systems include default badge templates and a custom badge designer to allow an organization to create/design badges that are different for each visitor type or each site. This includes the ability to print any visitor information gathered, visitor picture, and a QR or bar code of the visit for easy check out and access control integration on the badge.
HL7 Integration – Hospitals should look for a system that can integrate with their internal HL7 system so visitors can easily be sent to the proper patient location using this ADT (Admission/Discharge/Transfer) system data.
PIV Integration – Government agencies and contractors that want the ability for visitors to register using their PIV-compliant credentials, such as TWIC & CAC cards, should look for a solution that has this capability built-in.
Today there are visitor security systems at all price levels and with all levels of features from the most basic to the most advanced with all the bells and whistles. Don’t be penny wise and pound foolish, choose a system that meets your current needs, but also keep in mind that your needs will change and grow and choose a system that can grow with you organization.