By Joe Liguori
Decisions. Decisions. Sometimes there are too many of them to make when you are managing a business. Who should you hire to provide IT support if you don’t have an IT person on staff? Which vendor should you use to provide office supplies? And, should you use a Mac or PC? These are just a few of the questions faced by business owners on a regular basis.
Another question that may come up when it comes to security and managing facility access is how to select the right access control system, one that meets your business’ specific needs. There are many different types of access control systems available in the market today, such as standalone systems for one to four doors, mid-size systems that use single-factor authentication such as a keypad or proximity card, or large-scale systems that enable corporations to provide access to employees at multiple facilities in different states while using a single credential.
Unfortunately there is not one easy answer to this question of how best to manage facility access, as many different factors come into play when determining which access control system is right for your business. Here are a few things to ask yourself to guide your decision making process:
Is it Easy to Use and Manage?
Next to price, ease of use is typically the most important factor to take into consideration when looking to implement an access control system. Who is going to manage the system on the back end and add a new cardholder or revoke privileges when someone leaves the company? Do you need a system that offers a web-based interface so that you can remotely manage this task on your own, or do you plan to hire your systems integrator to oversee that service?
Before you implement any access control system, it’s important to answer this question, otherwise the system can become compromised quickly if access rights are not updated on a regular basis.
What Kind of Access Control Functionality Does Your Facility Need?
It’s important to select an access control system that aligns with your business needs. Do you have a lot of employees that require access to an office or facility during the weekend or evening hours? Or do you need to keep a few key rooms, such as an IT server room or supply closet, under lock and key and only accessible to a few select employees?
Also, will you need to monitor who comes and goes into the facility and need to create a detailed report on access times and who entered the facility? In some instances, a keypad can provide adequate security for a small business or to limit access to a specific area within a secure building. However, a keypad is not an ideal solution for high security areas because pins can be easily shared with other people. Instead, it is better to use a keypad and card reader combination to ensure multi-factor authentication.
What Does It Need to Integrate With?
Another thing to remember is that many entry-level access control systems do not offer third party integration. This means that if you plan to integrate video, elevator controls or an HR system in the future, it’s important to look beyond an entry-level system to future proof your system.
While you might not need these exact integrations today, be sure to look out five years or longer as to what your access control needs may look like. If you expect to add more employees, for example, then an access control system with future capabilities may be the best option. An access control system that can integrate with Active Directory or PeopleSoft, for example, will enable you to integrate security functionality with human resources, so that when you onboard a new employee it becomes a single process to get them access to the building when they are entered into the HR system as a new employee. The same is true if that employee leaves the company – HR can deactivate their access privileges while changing the employee’s employment status.
How Much Are You Willing To Spend?
Price is always a challenging component because projects often are driven by a set budget, but many businesses also require a quality system that is reliable. Because the access control market offers numerous solutions, from standalone systems to IP-based systems, customers have numerous options from which to choose at a variety of price points.
A keypad-based system may be more economical for businesses with only a few access points to secure. These type of systems eliminate the added expense associated with purchasing and replacing proximity cards, for example. However, a business that has multiple access points to secure, requires detailed after hours building access reporting or has a large number of employees may need to deploy a software based system, which is generally more expensive.
No matter the size of your business or your budget, the security market offers many different access control systems from which end users can choose. The challenge is, of course, deciding which one.